Bioethics in Multi-cultural and Multi-religious Malaysia
In Malaysia while there are guidelines for medical ethics there seems to be no clearphilosophy for bioethics. Medical ethics are narrower in their application and are morerelated to moral issues associated with the practice of medicine. Bioethics on the otherhand covers a much wider field and is concerned with the ethical questions that arise inthe relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, philosophy,and theology. Bioethics would therefore involve the study of ethics, morality and law.Basically bioethics is the study of ethical issues in the context of medical developments.One of the fundamental questions that concern us in the study of bioethics is – ‘whatought we to do?’ Stewart & Blocker
state that ethics is simply another term for ‘moralphilosophy’. It is that area of philosophy which investigates the principles governinghuman actions in terms of their ‘goodness, badness, rightness, and wrongness’. Theyfurther state that ethics is an extremely important branch of philosophy because it directsour attention not only to human morality but to values in general. They also raise thefollowing questions:
Are there standards that ought to govern all human behaviour?
If so, how can one know what they are?
Even if the ethical standard is known, why should it be followed especially, whenit does not seem to be in one’s self-interest?
In general, what makes something ‘good’ or ‘bad’?
Is there any common property, for example, that not only makes a chocolate cakegood but also has the same impact on a lawnmower?
Is ‘goodness’ just a feeling people have of liking or wanting something?
Ultimately, what is it that makes an action ‘right’ or ‘wrong’?
Are ‘rightness’ and ‘wrongness’ just arbitrary social conventions?A multi-cultural and multi-religious country such as Malaysia can have its own peculiarissues in attempting to formulate the ethics that can universally cover all research in thebiomedical field. Given Malaysia’s multi-cultural and multi-religious population themedical ethics adopted in Malaysia as stated in the Malaysian
Code of Medical Ethics
espouse a more multi-dimensional approach.
Code of Medical Ethics
Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-religious and culturally diverse nation with ‘belief in God’ beingthe first tenet of the country guiding principles (Rukunegara). There are many core values runningthrough the ethical beliefs of the various communities in Malaysia, which are worthy of emulation.
… Physicians may experience conflict between different ethical principles, betweenethical and legal or regulatory requirements, or between their own ethical convictions and thedemands of patients, proxy decision makers, other health professionals, employers or otherinvolved parties.
Malaysian writers on medical ethics have urged that not only must there be knowledge of medical codes but also of the philosophical and historical derivations of these codes.
The study of Malaysian medical ethics or bioethics is not without complications. As