Straits Times Science Correspondent Chang Ai-Lien wrote a commentary today entitled "Speak up on science issues before it's too late" in which she bemoans the lack of a public voice with respect to new scientific developments.
A timely piece. And she's absolutely right. (I'm actually quite surprised that over the past less-than-a-year I have posted no less than 19 times on ethics.)
But yes, we are a nation that does not find it comfortable discussing ethics. We prefer things to be black and white. We would actually much prefer to be told what is ok and what not. To a large extent, I believe the gahment has been responsible for this malaise. For a long while, we were 'taught' to be pliant.... and to accept oracles from the Temple of Delphi. Oracles that will tell us what to do about abortion, the death penalty etc. How else could we have so successfully 'engineered' Singapore society, in such a short span of history?
So today, even as our society 'opens up', our people still wait to be told what is right and what not. We wait with bated breath for proclamations from the Ministry of Health about the rightness and wrongness of organ trade, of euthanasia, of embryonic stem cell research and cloning. If the National Medical Ethics Committee (who?) says it is OK, then it must be.
Our ethicists generally shy away from any public discussions where their ideas may be challenged or tested. Instead, they prefer to cloister in hallowed august bodies where they have safety in numbers, and can make wise (and politically correct) pronouncements (advisories).
The lack of a public voice on ethics is unhealthy. It may however, be convenient for the government, because it allows for a relatively unhindered implementation of policies which may be 'gray' with respect to ethics. But this silence is without doubt, unhealthy for the development of our civic society.
So thank you, Ms Chang, for your commentary. But sadly, the cynical in me believes it will likely fall on deaf ears.
5 years ago