Kenji Gwee

Date of Award


Degree Type

Thesis - ECU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Forensic)


School of Computing, Health and Science


Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science

First Advisor

Professor Alfred Allan


Part 1of the Mental Disorders and Treatment Act (38 of 1952) of Singapore, was recently replaced by the Mental Capacity Act (22 of 2008). The latter Act introduces legal mechanisms, such as lasting powers of attorney and court-appointed deputies, in respect of people who lack legal capacity. In documents explaining the purpose of the legislation, the Ministry responsible for the administration of the legislation, the Ministry of Community, Youth and Sport, indicated that it is meant to enhance the personal and financial well being of people who lack the capacity to make legal decisions. This is a laudable aim, but a review of the scientific literature reveals that mental health legislation of this nature often, at best, fails to benefit those it is aimed to assist, and at worst, may even be to their detriment. It is therefore important to examine the Act to determine whether it will actually be beneficial to the target population. A review of the legal and scientific literature in Singapore revealed that no such investigation has to date taken place. The purpose of this study was to determine what the perceptions of three groups of stakeholders (patients, caregivers and psychiatrists) are about whether the Mental Capacity Act is likely to promote the personal well being of Singaporeans who lack legal capacity. A qualitative methodology was used and the research was guided by two theoretical frameworks: therapeutic jurisprudence and an interpretive constructive framework.