SINGAPORE - Lawyer and human rights activist Ravi Madasamy, better known as M. Ravi, was sentenced to an 18-month mandatory treatment order on Friday (Jan 5) after assaulting fellow lawyer and opposition politician Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss last year.
This means that Ravi, 48, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006, has to undergo treatment to address his mental condition, in lieu of jail time.
On Nov 27 last year, he also admitted that he performed a rash act and caused hurt to a second lawyer, Mr Nakoorsha Abdul Kadir, 42, in a seventh-storey corridor of The Adelphi at around 11am last August.
Ravi, who has been barred from practising for two years since October 2016, also pleaded guilty to a housebreaking charge. He broke into one of the offices of the Eugene Thuraisingam law firm on the fifth storey of People’s Park Centre on June 27 last year.
After his sentencing, Ravi told reporters that he thinks the court and the prosecution have come up with a fair resolution.
When The Straits Times asked him what he would like to say to Mrs Chong-Aruldoss, Mr Nakoorsha and Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, who runs the law firm that bears his name, Ravi replied: “I was quite mortified... of the things that I did and it must have been very distressful for them. It was also quite hurtful for me to know that I’ve hurt them, people who were quite close to me and cared for me.”
Ravi also said that he joined former National Solidarity Party secretary-general Lim Tean’s law firm Carson Law Chambers this month as its head of knowledge management and strategic alliance.
Ravi also said he would continue with his human rights work. He added: “During this period of time, I’ve got the opportunity to work as an international human rights lawyer, away from Singapore... training young lawyers in Myanmar and also participating in legal teams around the world.”
Ravi pleaded guilty to three charges. Four others, including two of committing public nuisance at the Sri Mariamman Temple last year, were taken into consideration during sentencing.
His conditions for the mandatory treatment order include attending sessions at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). He must also agree to allow his private psychiatrist, Dr Munidasa Winslow, to share information about him with IMH.
The three other conditions are: He has to go for blood tests when required to determine the level of medication in his body; he must not create nuisance or cause harassment to others – in particular at religious institutions; and he must not post videos of himself on social media except for professional or commercial purposes.
The order can be revoked if Ravi reoffends or fails to comply with these conditions.
The Eugene Thuraisingam law firm employed Ravi in late 2016 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 last year. Court papers did not reveal the reason for his termination.
Ravi and his friend, Lai Yew Thiam, 56, broke into the office three times between June 17 and 27 last year. Lai, who works with his brother-in-law in their family business, was sentenced to four weeks' jail on Dec 7 last year, after pleading guilty to two counts of housebreaking. A third charge for a similar offence was taken into consideration.
On Aug 8 last year, 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 Lawyers Alliance for Human Rights Asia, an organisation which he founded.
Ravi's party was not allowed to enter, and, as the men walked away, Ravi confronted Mrs Chong-Aruldoss, who works at the firm. The 54-year-old fell to the ground when Ravi shoved her and the attack left her with a bruised right hip.
When her colleague, Mr Nakoorsha, stepped in, Ravi picked up Mrs Chong-Aruldoss' handbag and flung it at his face.
For assault, Ravi could have been jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.
On Friday, Ravi said: “I just hope, with these conditions imposed and with my compliance, that I can move forward with my career as well as my good relationships that I have always enjoyed with others.”