Integrity should never be thrown out for expediency, pragmatism

The recent court judgment on the handling of money at City Harvest Church by its leaders emphasises a fundamental principle of decision-making by anyone - individuals and organisations: The ends never justify the means ("Six accused in City Harvest trial guilty of all charges"; Oct 22).

When ethics get thrown out the window in the name of expediency or pragmatism in order to get things done, no matter how noble the objective, we run the risk of becoming self-deceiving and of deceiving others.

Ultimately, what is being concealed will and must be revealed.

No one can hide forever to evade exposure and escape the consequences of pragmatic choices made without regard to basic morality - universal ethical principles that guide decent human behaviour.

The tragedy of hiding is that the perpetrator may escape facing the consequences in his lifetime, but those affected, including the children, the future generations, will inevitably be the victims and suffer the outcomes of the immoral decisions.

In a culture where pragmatism has been entrenched as a cardinal doctrine of governance, everyone has to take a long, hard look at the wisdom of continuing to believe and practise an unquestioning attitude towards pragmatism.

No one can guarantee the fidelity of an individual's integrity.

People will change, and not always for the better. Integrity can, sooner or later, be thrown out the window when we continue to live by the precept that the ends can justify the means.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)