The beginning for the MPA was an arduous and challenging journey. It started off with the first meeting called by Dr. M P Deva of the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Malaya, to discuss the formation of the Malaysian Psychiatric Association in November 1976. It was a strenuous time for the psychiatry fraternity in Malaysia, with about a dozen psychiatrists out of 25 – leaving or planning to leave for greener pastures down under. The psychiatric hospitals were overflowing with well over 8000 patients in disastrous conditions which would have been unimaginable today.
The two-year Masters in Psychological Medicine program of University of Malaya which started in 1973, produced its second batch of: a single psychiatrist while facing a bleak drought of new trainees. Perhaps, the greatest threat for the formation of MPA came from among a few in the same profession and many in the other specialties who felt that: the concept of MPA was not a wise one, as there was already a Neuro-psychiatric society of the Malaysian Medical Association.
Fortunately, the majority of the psychiatrists prevailed and the MPA was formally inaugurated by the Honorable Minister of Health Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew on 19th March 1977 at Hospital Bahagia, Ulu Kinta. Dato Seri M. Mahadevan was elected as the MPA’s First pro tempore President with Dr. M P Deva as pro tempore Hon Gen Secretary. The election was followed by a scientific session on: The Move to Community Psychiatry in Malaysia.
Activities of the MPA
The initial years saw the first monthly Scientific/Clinical meetings first held at the Nurses Lecture theatre of, GHKL and later held in UHKL, UKM and GHKL on rotation. It became more regular after 1981 until the introduction of the Quarterly Scientific meetings. This was initiated by Prof Ramli Hassan in 1993 and the 1st QSM was on Child Psychiatry held on 20/2/93 at the Institute of Paediatrics KL attended by 48 participants. This became a regular meeting discussing various topics of interest in psychiatry and Mental Health and held mainly in KL. On the 23rd Nov. 1996 the first QSM was held outside KL in Johor Bahru on care of the Elderly and the next one in February 1997 at GH Kota Bharu on Community Mental Health.
The MPA under the Chairmanship of Dato Seri Dr M. Mahadevan organised its first major conference in 1983 – the 4th ASEAN Forum on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Institute of Neurological Sciences Kuala Lumpur. The First Malaysian Conference on Psychological Medicine (MCPM) was initiated and organized by A. Prof Dr M. P. Deva at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya in 1988. The MPA under his leadership also organised the 2nd MCPM at the Ming Court Hotel Kuala Lumpur from 23rd to 25th February 1990. Since then the MCPM has become the premier biannual Scientific Meeting for Psychiatrist and Mental Health Workers in Malaysia. The MPA organized the 3rd Malaysian Conference on Psychological Medicine from the 17th – 19th January 1992 at Sri Bayu Beach Resort attended by 280 delegates with Dr Mohd Fadzil Man as organising chairman. The 4th MCPM organized by Prof Ramli Hassan as chairman on 14th – 16th January 1994 attended by 188 delegates. The 5th MCPM was held in Hotel Sofitel Johor Bahru from 8th – 10th March 1996 under the chairmanship of Dr S. Jeyarajah and attended by more than 200 delegates. The MCPM is now an annual conference, currently in its 12th Session in 2006.
In conjunction with the MCPM the MPA also introduced two awards since 1994. The Best Psychiatric Research Award for the 3 best papers are presented at the MCPM.
Joining ASEAN Federation for Psychiatry and Mental Health
In 1981, the 3rd Asean Forum on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry was held in Bangkok, Thailand. At a special session in February 11, 1981, the AFPMH was established and the MPA joined the AFPMH as a founder member with Dato Seri Dr. M Mahadevan representing the MPA and signing the Constitution on behalf of the MPA. The Founding of the AFPMH was attended by all the Presidents of the ASEAN National Psychiatric Associations. Prof Kusumanto Setyonogoro of Indonesia was elected Founder President for a 4 year term. In 1985 the Secretariat was transferred to Thailand with General Aroon Showanasai as the 2nd president of the AFPMH. The 3rd president of AFPMH was Prof Tsoi Wing Foo of Singapore from 1987 to 1989. The Malaysian Psychiatric Association took over the Secretariat in 1990 when A. Prof Dr M. P. Deva was the 4th President and Dr S. Jeyarajah was Secretary General. The MPA successfully organised the 3rd ASEAN Congress on Psychiatry and Mental Health (since called the AFPMH Congress) and the 7th Forum on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AFCAP) from 24th – 27th January, 1991 at the KL Hilton Hotel attended by 275 foreign, ASEAN and local delegates. At the 6th AFPMH Congress held in Bangkok in November, 1996, Dr S. Jeyarajah was elected to next President of the AFPMH and the Secretariat passed over to the MPA. The MPA organized the 7th AFPMH Congress and 11th AFCAP in December 1998. The 12th AFPM Congress celebrating the 25th Anniversary of AFPMH was held in Jakarta in July 2006 where Prof R Kusumanto Setyenegoro the Founder President was honoured with a special plaque and Prof. M P Deva gave the address honouring Prof Kusumanto’s pioneering work in forming Asia’s first Regional Psychiatric Association The Asean Journal of Psychiatry was first published by the Singapore Psychiatric Association and in 1996-1997 by MPA under the editorship of Prof Dr M. P. Deva.
Joining The World Psychiatric Association (WPA)
The MPA was from 1977 till 1981 a National Psychiatric Association and in 1981 when it joined the AFPMH, it had started to have international links and these have opened the doors to the wider world. In 1988 the MPA joined the WPA as a member This has led to wider links not only at WPA sponsored meetings but also at the General Assemblies of the WPA where the MPA has voting rights. The last General Assembly attracted over 100 country- delegates from all 6 continents MPA is in Zone XVI of the WPA in Region 4 that covers South Asia. MPA’s former president Prof M P Deva was the Zone XVI representative of WPA for 16 years from 1989 to 2005.
The MPA soon after its formation started to keep tabs with its far flung members in Sabah, Sarawak, and different parts of peninsular Malaysia through mimeographed copies of an MPA Newsletter printed and posted by the first Secretary with no funding – as there was no bank account or bank balance to support a newsletter. This went on for many years until with the growing availability of funds and support in 1992, a ‘Berita MPA’ was finally printed by Prof Maniam and colleagues in UKM. The Malaysian Psychiatry is now a Quarterly Newsletter of the MPA, which has undergone changes from the early MPA Newsletter in 1978 to ‘Berita MPA’ in 1992 and since 1995 as ‘Malaysian Psychiatry’. The Malaysian Journal of Psychiatry was first published in October 1993 under the editorship of A. Prof Dr K Saroja. It is a 6 monthly journal and although belated at times has been successfully continued as the ‘Orange Journal of Malaysian Psychiatry’. Assoc. Prof Dr Hatta Shaharom was appointed Editor in September 1996 followed by Prof Azhar Md. Zain. The current Editor-in-Chief is Prof Dr Nor Zuraida Zainal, who has managed the Journal since 2008. The Malaysian Journal of Psychiatry went online in June 2006 and has since been upgraded to include an online author submission and reviewer management system. MJP is available online at www.mjpsychiatry.org.
The strength of an association lies in its membership. From its initial membership of around 50 members (36 ordinary and 24 associate members) the membership on January 1997stands at over 200 with: Life members Ordinary members Life Associate members Associate members
Patron of the MPA
YAM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj the nations Founding Father was our 1st Patron and since his sad demise this position has not been filled. The MPA is still seeking a suitable eminent person.
MPA Past Presidents
Since then, the MPA has had several eminent psychiatrists leading the association, namely:
Tan Sri, Dato Seri, Dato, Dr. M Mahadevan Prof Syed M Haq
Prof Syed M Haq
Prof M Parameshvara Deva
Prof Ramli Hassan
Dr. S Jeyarajah
Dr. Chin Cheuk Ngen
Prof Hussain Habil
Prof T. Maniam (2006 – 2008)
Dr. Yen Teck Hoe (2008 – 2010)
Dr. Abdul Kadir Abu Bakar (2010 – 2014)
Professor Dr. Nor Zuraida Zainal (2014 – 2018)
Dr. Hazli Zakaria (2018 – 2020)
Dr. Hazli Zakaria (2021 – 2022 current)
The MPA holds its election for committee members every two years. In 2019, the then MPA President Prof Nor Zuraida Zainal proposed the setting up of the President-Elect.