Yesterday night the Law Society of Singapore issued a statement denying that their ban on popular human rights lawyer M Ravi’s practice was motivated by his decision to stand for election.
The Law Society was responding to a video uploaded by a supporter of M Ravi. M Ravi was filmed going to the Law Society premises with supporters to protest his ban. Mr Ravi said in the video that the ban was politically motivated and an attempt to stop his election bid. He also accused Lee Hsien Loong and Lee Kuan Yew of trying to “fix the opposition”.
Mr Ravi, 43, was told on Tuesday to stop practicising until his bipolar disorder has been examined by a psychiatrist. The society would review the psychiatrist’s report before deciding on whether to allow him to continue his practice.
Law society president, senior counsel Thio Shen Yi, told The Straits Times: “The council’s decision to issue a direction to Mr M. Ravi to temporarily cease practice is based solely on the council’s concerns that the present state of Mr Ravi’s mental condition impairs his fitness to practise law.”
“The Law Society is an independent body and does not engage in assisting or hindering any of its members in any political aspirations they may have,” Mr Thio added.
“The council owes a duty to the public and to its members to ensure that all practising lawyers in Singapore are not impaired by any physical or mental condition which affects their fitness to practise.”
Mr Thio said the society considered a range of legal options based on the information available.
“Council could have pursued more drastic measures but we felt that this direction to Mr Ravi, to cease practice pending a medical examination, best balances the interests of Mr Ravi’s clients, the integrity of the legal profession and Mr Ravi himself. In particular, council took into account the consideration that, subject to Mr Ravi satisfactorily addressing the issues that he faces, this option could allow him to continue practising law.”
Mr Ravi told Straits Times reporters yesterday that he would seek to challenge the Law Society’s move in court through an application for judicial review.