Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Human Organ Trade - a nuanced approach

A colleague once referred to Minister Khaw as the 'teflon man', referring to is ability to extricate himself from all kinds of sticky situations. I personally think that was being very unfair. I think Minister Khaw has perhaps been better than other ministers in navigating out of difficult situations mainly because of his innate abilities to be more adaptable and nuanced when dealing with difficult situations.

There is no doubt the organ trade issues are very difficult to resolve. There will be no solution that will make everyone happy. Often in this kind of situation, the 'wise' approach may be just to sit on one's hands and do nothing. But having made a commitment to move forward on this, some reasonable solution now needs to be found. Personally I am prepared to give Minister the time and space to resolve this in the most appropriate way possible.

It is however critically important that we remain vigilant and mindful of the dangers ahead. For one thing, the gap between ethical and non-ethical has become a lot more narrow than it has ever been before, and it has clearly become so much easier to drift over the line (whatever this may be). Rimbursements to payments. Residents to foreigners. This is the intrinsic danger of being on the slippery slope.

Fundamental to all of this is the strength of our ethics environment. Minister Khaw is right to point to the strength of our ethics environment. But he may perhaps have overstated the case. Our ethics environment is good but maybe not as strong as he thinks. I will post more on this issue when I have a bit more time to collect my thoughts, but I think we still have a long way to go to lay claim to having an ethics environment that is robust enough to deal with complex situations like this.

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