December 09, 2016

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Morality & Ethics

Khin Maung Myint

Morality
The morality defines a person’s moral standards or, in other words, the principles or the moral values that person upholds. It’s also an indicator of the character and mindset and is a measure of the level of dignity and respectability of a person. If you care to look up in any modern dictionary, you can find a variety of definitions in connection to morality, so I will not be unnecessarily reproducing them here. In this article I will attempt to analyze or evaluate the morality of some individuals.
The morality should not be confused with ethics or discipline. While ethics are guided by some sort of codes and disciplines are controlled by rules and regulations, the mortality is born out of a person’s inherent character and in the upbringing. Furthermore, the morality has nothing to do with professions. It is an attribute unique to each individual.
To clarify the above statements it would be necessary to give a few examples. Here, I would like to cite some recent incidents from the transport sector, which were noteworthy. The first was the news of an honest taxi driver who returned a bundle of precious stones worth over 100 million Kyats left behind in his car, to the rightful owner. The second was the driver and conductor of a bus transport who returned a wallet containing US $80,000 worth over 100 million Kyats to a foreigner. Such good deeds stemmed from the high morality of those persons and are very rare in this age of greed and dishonesty. They deserved the praises and citations bestowed on them by the State Counselor.
Contrary to the above mentioned deeds of decent morality there were many incidents of shameful acts committed by some taxi drivers who extorted or robbed the passengers. To save time and space I wouldn’t be detailing the various acts of indecent behaviours of some taxi drivers. Also there were frequent incidents of rude bus drivers and conductors who have no respect or regards to the commuters—insulting verbally and beating up even the elderlies. The latest incident of kicking a sixty year old man off the bus and continued beating him up once on the ground was totally unacceptable. Even foreigners were not spared from the wraths of the unruly bus conductors. Such behaviorisms tarnish the image of our nation.
Based on the above examples it is quite evident that the morality of a person has nothing to do with the profession. Thus we should not take it for granted that all taxi drivers, bus drivers and conductors are bad people. The morality also has nothing to do with wealth or status either. There are many crooked and rude wealthy persons everywhere in the world. In my opinion the morality of such wealthy persons are no better than the morality of the greedy and rude taxi drivers, bus drivers and conductors.
Ethic
Ethic can be defined as a system of accepted beliefs that controls the behaviours, especially such a system based on morals. The ethic is either a written or unwritten obligation that every professionals must observe. Every profession has it’s own code of ethics to observe. In the medical profession the doctors are required to acknowledge them by signing. As for the other professions they also have ethics to be observed, but I must admit I’m not sure whether it is necessary for their professionals to sign them. However, every professionals are expected to observe the ethics of their respective professions.
Though there may be certain ethics for certain professions, there are some who do not abide by them. As examples I would like to point out a few professions where there are disregards for professional ethics by some.
The medical profession is one of them. I don’t mean everyone in the medical profession, but only those few who are disgraces to the profession. Many people, like me, might have at one time or another encountered such unethical persons in the medical profession. I’ll not be stressing at length on the different ways they are disregarding their code of ethics. However, I will mention one example in case someone should challenge the authenticity of my statement. Some years ago at a certain private clinic, prescriptions were written in code numbers, which, only the sales clerk at that clinic’s pharmacy knew how to decipher. So, the patients had no choice but to buy the medicines from that clinic, where the prices were marked up way above the prices in other drug stores. I learned from some respectable doctors that such a practice is not in line with the ethics. This is just the tip of an iceberg; there are many more examples up my sleeve, but it would suffice for the purpose of this article.
The second example of disregard for professional ethics is found in the teaching profession. Most parents will agree with me if I say that favouritism is shown towards the students who took private tuitions, while neglecting or bullying of students who couldn’t or wouldn’t take tuitions are common in our schools for decades. These actions are the most unethical behaviours among some teachers in the primary, middle and high schools. In most cases even to get admission to a certain school had to be exorbitantly bribed. The worst were the recent news of male teachers molesting and seducing underage girl students under their charge. The morality of these people had plummeted to the lowest levels and their ethics are totally non-existent.
The last example I would like to cite is the journalistic ethics. The journalistic ethics are not only disregarded in our country. News of fake informations promulgated during the US presidential campaigns are emerging today. We are now witnessing, firsthand, the fabricated, false and unconfirmed news about our domestic affairs popping up in world renowned news agencies and broadcasting stations. Thus there is no wonder unethical journalists also exist in our country too. Now that the media has more freedom with the absence of censoring, instead of improving, it has become even more unethical. As some young rookie reporters and journalists in their enthusiasms to get scoops, unconfirmed news and even rumors and gossips are sent in and are being published without much scrutiny by the responsible persons.
Though I have avoided going into detail in the previous two examples, I would like to take some of the readers’ precious time to spotlight a few unethical actions in the media domain of our country. Fabrication of the news by a foreign journalist working for a prominent local English language paper, about the persecutions and burning down of houses belonging to the Bengali villagers, was an act of gross unethical journalism. However, credit should be given to that media group for taking drastic action by immediately firing that journalist.
Then, there was an editorial column, accusing a certain Chief Minister of a Regional Government of accepting a very expensive wrist watch from a wealthy ex-convict. It was the most outrageous breach of the journalistic ethics if the accusation couldn’t be proved. I don’t belong to any of the multitudes of political parties and I’ve no obligation what-so-ever to be advocating for any-body or any party. Criticism is one thing and defamation is another. It’s now for the court to decide whether the accusation has any concrete ground or just based on gossips and rumors. If it is found to be false, it would tantamount to defamation, which is unethical journalism and a criminal offence.
To sum up my discussions, the morality is an extension of a person’s character and dictates the behaviour or ethics of a professional. A person with high morality is respectable, honourable, creditable and would be held in high esteem regardless of status or wealth of that person. However, a person with low morality is a despicable, untrustworthy and lowdown person, like those rude drivers and conductors and unethical professionals. Thus it could be concluded that the morality is the measure of the degree of the moral values that a person possesses and also an indication of the level of his or her professional ethics.
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