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Greater Protection for the Mentally Ill – Email Feedback to moh-info@moh.gov.sg 14th March 2008

Feedback for the proposed bill

Firstly, the proposed Mental Health (Care & Treatment) Bill is not available on www.moh.gov.sg as claimed in the report.

Secondly, the proposed bill is not made readily available to the public as it should be if the government was genuine and sincere about soliciting feedback for the proposed changes.

Thirdly, in the light of limited information, my feedback is as follows:-

GREATER PROTECTION FOR THE MENTALLY ILL

The Straits Times report of February 21 2008 is referred to.

The proposal to empower more Government hospitals to “admit patients against their will”, detain them for “further treatment”, ensuring that “such patients may be treated without delay” so much so that they can be “given medical or surgical treatment without their consent, if needed” can only lead to more opportunities of arbitrary arrest and detention and profane abuse of establishment power.

Though the IMH may have claimed to have treated 33,000 people at its outpatient clinics, does the situation warrant empowering all other government hospitals the same and worse extended powers of which are currently available only to the IMH?

The public feedback process does little to inspire confidence when dissenting voices are not heard. Instead it is an exercise of rubber stamping, ball carrying and responsibility shifting by the people in government.

We for once do not know the track record of the IMH save for the fact that patients and accused persons can be arbitrarily detained against their will for long periods of time without much that Defence Counsel can do when the patients themselves are accused persons in the state prosecution processes.

What are the chances of a doctor detaining a patient who is not a danger to himself or to others or detains him for more than 6 months?

What are the chances of evidence of such a violation being made freely available by the hospital to the aggrieved party or person seeking redress for the aggrieved party?

It is common knowledge that our hospitals are obsessed with cost recovery, monetary gains and profit margins. Since violations would technically immediately attract civil and criminal liability which would affect the financial gains, what are the chances of a hospital deliberately covering up the mistakes of the doctors under its employment and which fall within its responsibility?

We are in an unusual age where Governmental departments seek high rewards for themselves, seek to hold more and more arbitrary power over the people and yet relinquish more and more responsibility for their actions.

In this day and age, Government hospitals no longer provide the truly affordable subsidized healthcare that should be part of a national healthcare system but yet they seek to have arbitrary powers of detention on persons whom “they think are a danger to themselves or to others”. These are extremely wide powers made available to and at the disposal of extremely subjective minds.

In this diasporic mismatch of reward, reality and responsibility and accountability as well as the growing risk of capriciousness of the establishment and people within, one wonders for whom the latest protection amendments are intended to benefit and for whom are the persons who are truly mentally ill.

I strongly object to any attempt to seek further arbitrary and unchecked powers over the people in Singapore, whether sane or insane.

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March 14, 2008 - Posted by | Politics

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