Thursday, April 7, 2011
The Dividing Line between Right and Wrong.
It seems to me that the dividing line between RIGHT and WRONG today depends entirely on where you stand and what you can do to hold your stand. People don't do things or abstain from doing them because it feels RIGHT or WRONG to do so but because there's much to be gained by doing them or the penalty is too high for doing them if found guilty when charged in a court of law.
As such the line between RIGHT and WRONG can be pushed to wherever you want it to be.
It means that there is no longer any moral, ethical or civil standard underlying all actions. There will only be a punitive or a monetary penalty to pay if you are caught, charged and found guilty for doing the wrong thing, even if you knew it was wrong from the beginning but decided to let your lawyers handle the matter once done. If the penalty is small and manageable (transmutable into cash payment), who cares. Pay and be damned.
This situation is most obvious in traffic offences. Millions of summons for traffic violations are issued and millions are collected as penalty, But the offence keeps increasing. The rich ( and even not so rich) can just pay and walk away with a smile, his self-pride not in the least affected. But what if there's no monitory penalty? Intead you'll be publicly scolded for your traffic offence and required to attend a day's lecture to be held at a selcted detention center, failing which a jail sentence will be imposed depending on the seriousness of the offence you committed. This might even be a better deterrent than a sentence to do some community work which a celebrity will accept with pleasure. He or she might even get more publicity.
What about the crimninal act of corruption which is bedevelling many governments. Has the fear of being caught, jailed and fined become a sufficient deterrent? No, especially since the chance of being caught when working with strong cables is most unlikely. Corruption charges take years to be brought up in court and more years for the legal battle to be fought. Yes, in Malaysia itself we have begun to see some big and powerful names being dragged to the court but the outcome is dubious for each case seems to drag in more and more big names that are not covered by the investigations. Only when small fries are involved will the charges easily stick . A new development in the battle against corruption in Malaysia is that people interrogated or called on to help investigation by the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission begin to disappear or meet unfortunate deaths. . On another front, in as far as political campaigning is cocerned, what offers are made to the electorate during an election campaign is not considered as corruption. No wonder offering money to get elected to a political post (also known as money politics) is not considered a serious crime and can just be subjected to disciplinary action by the political party concerned.
Again, a jail sentence, monetary penalty and a ban from politics, footbal, or other professional activities for a period of time following a conviction on a charge of corruption, is not going to stem out the crime. It must begin with us appreciating what is right and what is wrong at a conscious moral or ethical level. That appreciation is nurtured from family to school and later through our professional training.
When the members of society has no more sense of right and wrong, no more ethical and moral concern about doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong, corruptuion will continue to haunt the current human civilization. Maybe we have to reinvent society again, reinstating the mechanism for distinguishing between what is right and what is wrong which modern soceity has lost over the years.