KLANG: The Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) is recommending that people charged for bizarre public behaviour be held at a psychiatric facility, pending the outcome of their case.
MMHA president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said such individuals must also undergo psychiatric assessment while being held in custody.
The association’s stand comes following a recent incident in which a Philippine national, Kent Caburnay Acuin, was slapped with two charges for walking around nude and making lewd gestures.
The twenty-nine-year-old Kent, a transwoman, allegedly committed the offence on March 13 at Jalan Bukit Bintang and nearby Jalan Sultan Ismail.
Kent, who claimed trial to the charges, is currently under custody and believed to be held in prison.
According to Dr Andrew, Kent needed to undergo a psychiatric assessment prior to her upcoming hearing, as she could be suffering from a serious psychotic disorder.
“Walking around naked in public is not a socially acceptable behaviour, and would ordinarily indicate that the person is of unsound mind at the time of the incident," he said.
Given this, he added, it was incumbent upon the authorities to order a proper psychiatric evaluation, followed by necessary treatment.
In the event Kent’s conduct was due the influence of certain substance, this could possibly be caused by underlying mental health issues.
“Even if she was found to have been under the influence of an illicit substance, it could also be an attempt to self-medicate as a result of an underlying psychiatric disorder,” he said.
Dr Andrew reiterated that regardless of the cause, Kent’s bizarre behaviour warrants a serial psychiatric assessment, which must be presented accordingly at the hearing.
Kent was first charged under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955 that carries a maximum RM100 fine upon conviction and subsequently charged under Section 509 of the Penal Code, for using a word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a person, which carries a maximum jail term of five years, or a fine or both.
Magistrate Rahni Kartini Abd Karim ordered the accused to be remanded until the case was mentioned on April 22.