Ms Emmy and Mr Ravi in Bali. Source: Facebook/M Ravi

SAMH abruptly withdrew from Bali plenary meeting due to Ministry of Foreign Affairs advisory on Lombok

In a Facebook post dated 26 Aug, lawyer M Ravi has expressed his dissatisfaction regarding the Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH)’s sudden decision to pull out only a day before a plenary on psychosocial issues that was held in Bali, Indonesia.

Mr Ravi highlighted that he and Ms Emmy Charissa, an activist who is heavily involved in legislative and policy advocacy, attended the plenary in their “private capacities” to contribute to the discourse, and were scheduled to present a joint report with SAMH as Singapore’s representatives. 

He expressed his frustration over the fact that “Singapore is losing out again on the international stage over such an important topic”, while highlighting that only Singapore withdrew its representatives from the conference.

TOC understands that Mr Ravi and Ms Emmy had written to SAMH prior to this in an effort to seek SAMH’s input regarding the joint report they were supposed to present at the meeting:

SAMH responded by saying that its representatives will not be able to attend as the association has chosen to heed the warning of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs issued on 6 Aug regarding the recent Lombok earthquake:

Noting that the accommodation is a 5-star facility, Mr Ravi said that the hotel could not offer any refunds for the rooms meant for the SAMH representatives, as the tremors were minor ones. He said that representatives from the other Asian countries such as, Japan, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hongkong and etc were present at the forum.

Mr Ravi added in a separate comment on his Facebook post:

Kudos to Emmy who has not slept for two days filling up the section on country report omitted by SAMH.

Selva Barathy responded to Mr Ravi’s post with the following comment:

If the tremor and earthquake alerts in the region has stopped you from attending this conference, well shame on you, SAMH! A true Singaporean who is standing there in place of you perhaps, is whom I admire most. A man who will fight this cause and many other causes against all odds, including ALERTS. Cheers my friend.

Siva Chandran commented:

I guess they pulled out because both Emmy and you are there. Guess they chickened out, since they won’t be able to answer any of your questions to them..

Ravi MRavi responded, saying:

We were looking forward to a great exchange. It’s a shame if they are shying away from a healthy debate.

Nicole Ling said:

But why only SAMH attending? What about psychology groups and associations? They should be invited and notified so that representatives can be present. Don’t get the toothless jokers. Get people who are willing to speak.