M. Ravi admits assaulting fellow lawyer

According to court documents, M. Ravi (left) broke into the People's Park Centre office of the Eugene Thuraisingam law firm, where he had been employed, with his friend, Lai Yew Thiam (right), whose case is still pending.
According to court documents, M. Ravi (left) broke into the People's Park Centre office of the Eugene Thuraisingam law firm, where he had been employed, with his friend, Lai Yew Thiam (right), whose case is still pending. ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

Rights activist also pleads guilty to causing hurt to another lawyer

Lawyer and human rights activist Ravi Madasamy, better known as M. Ravi, admitted in court yesterday that he had assaulted fellow lawyer and opposition politician Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss.

The 54-year-old fell to the ground when Ravi shoved her in the seventh-storey corridor of The Adelphi at around 11am on Aug 8. The attack left her with a bruised right hip.

Ravi pleaded guilty to a separate charge yesterday of causing hurt to a second lawyer, Mr Nakoorsha Abdul Kadir, 42, by performing a rash act at the same spot minutes later.

Ravi, who has been barred from practising for two years since October last year, also admitted to breaking into one of the offices of the Eugene Thuraisingam law firm on the fifth storey of People's Park Centre on June 27.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Sarah Ong said the law firm employed Ravi late last year and he worked in its People's Park Centre office.

But his employment was terminated and he was informed through a hand-delivered letter that he had to vacate the premises by June 16. Court papers did not reveal the reason for his termination.

According to court documents, Ravi broke into the office with his friend, Lai Yew Thiam, 56, whose case is still pending. They broke into the office twice, on June 17 and June 22, and police were notified on both occasions.

The firm changed the locks and hired a contractor to secure its shutter with screws. Undeterred, the duo went to the office again on June 27, armed with a screwdriver. Lai used it to remove the screws and they entered the premises.

On Aug 8, Ravi went to the law firm's office at The Adelphi and demanded to be allowed to enter. He was accompanied by three other men working for an organisation, the Lawyers Alliance for Human Rights Asia, which he founded.

Ravi's party was not allowed to enter and, as the men walked away, confronted Mrs Chong-Aruldoss who works at the firm. DPP Ong said: "Ravi stopped Jeannette abruptly and began questioning her aggressively... When Jeannette tried to walk away, Ravi forcefully pushed her, charged towards her and pushed her again... While Jeannette was on the ground, Ravi kicked and flung Jeannette's belongings, which were scattered on the ground, and also threw a shoe in Jeannette's direction while mocking her for being 'drama'."

When her colleague, Mr Nakoorsha, stepped in, Ravi picked up Mrs Chong-Aruldoss' handbag and flung it at his face.

Yesterday, Ravi's defence lawyer, Mr Shashi Nathan, told District Judge Brenda Tan that his client is well known for "championing the constitutional and human rights of his clients". He also said Ravi was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006 and has been taking medication following his arrest this August. As he stood in the dock, Ravi told the court he was "mortified" by his own behaviour.

Judge Tan has called for a report to access his suitability for a mandatory treatment order, where offenders have to undergo treatment in lieu of jail time. Ravi is now out on $20,000 bail and will be back in court on Jan 5.

Four other charges, including two of committing public nuisance at the Sri Mariamman Temple earlier this year, will be taken into consideration during his sentencing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2017, with the headline 'M. Ravi admits assaulting fellow lawyer'. Print Edition | Subscribe