Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pastor Kong Hee's Publisher Explains It's "Oversight"

The following report was published in yesterday's Shin Min Daily as part of the reporting on the news regarding CAD's probe into the financial affairs of CHC:

 城市丰收教会在今年首五个月,就有两起事件引起关注。

■2010年5月
康希新书被指抄袭

康希被指在新书里抄袭一名美国著名作家的作品,在网上引起争议。
网民Cheat Grace在博客上指出,康希牧师的一本新书《灵命更心第2本》(Renewing Your Spiritual Life)中,第99页的内容和美国著名传教士尼尔·安德森(Neil Anderson)的文章有很多相似之处。
该网民说,新书有许多段落与安德森的作品一模一样。他也声称,他怀疑康希是在抄袭,并说他不是第一次这么做。
负责出版此书的出版社总经理说,经调查后发现,这本书的350篇文章中,有约10篇的确与其他作家的文章有相似之处。但他说,康希都是在原作者的批准下,才引述他们的作品,不是抄袭。
他指出,他们的疏忽在于引用时没给予明确信息,让读者知道哪些部分是引用其他作家的。
 (source: http://news.omy.sg/News/Local%2BNews/Story/OMYStory201006010411-156278/3.html)
 (emphasis in red mine)

For those who have trouble understanding Chinese, the article says that anonymous blogger, Cheat Grace highlighted in his blog that the contents of page 99 of KH's new book, "Renewing Your Spiritual Life Vol.2", contains many similarities with an article by a famous American preacher, Neil Anderson, and Cheat Grace suspects that KH plagiarized and that it is not the first time he has done so.

The publisher of the book said that after investigation, they discovered that out of the 350 articles in the book, there were about 10 articles which contained similarities with other authors. However, the publisher asserted that KH had used their materials with the permission of the original authors, and therefore it is not a case of plagiarism. He also said that their oversight is in not clearly letting readers know which articles were written by other authors and reproduced with their permission.


Again, I may appear cynical here but the publisher's "explanation" is full of loopholes:

1. The publisher said "经调查后发现", ie. "he discovered after investigation" which means he DIDN'T KNOW AT FIRST that some of the articles were in fact works by other authors! He only discovered this AFTER investigating, and he investigated only AFTER allegations of plagiarism surfaced.

2. The publisher said KH received permission from the original authors to use those articles, yet he DIDN'T KNOW about those permissions BEFORE publishing the book! Didn't KH tell him about those articles? In fact, he DIDN'T KNOW about those permissions even AFTER publishing the book! He only found out AFTER INVESTIGATION due to Cheat Grace's allegation of plagiarism by KH!

3. BEFORE the book was put on sale, didn't KH scan through a copy and realize that there wasn't any acknowledgment made to the other authors? Ya, ya ... he's a busy man, I know but isn't the publication of a book meant to inspire Christians important enough for him to pay some proper attention?


I guess many people probably feel that the alleged plagiarism issue is no big deal now compared to the CAD probe into CHC's financial affairs.  But think a little bit deeper, it is often the little things that give us a clue to the bigger things.

12 June Update: (Take note of the different story which the publisher told the Straits Times)

18 comments:

Xtrocious said...

You are absolutely correct...

There's a lot that these little things can tell about a person - even for one who takes the trouble to portray himself/herself in a different light...

gweek said...

Also, permission being granted by others is one thing; going on to publish without acknowledging them is another. Worse, the copyrights page claims that these are his own works! Would anyone give such permission?

Sze Zeng said...

Good points, Stanley! :-)

Cheat Grace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jezebella said...

Plagiarism implies that the exerpts have not been given due credits... meaning no reference citations.

Seeing how this is a serious issue in so many ways, how can this simply be an “oversight”?

Cheat Grace said...

“Contained similarities”. That’s a good spin. Hello, it’s a word for word copy in practically all the articles.

There were 350 articles? Looks like even Attributes don’t know the contents of their publishing. The book is called “Renewing…. 90 days”, i.e. one day one article@90 articles/vol. Do the maths Duhhh!

The publisher “asserted”? Why not show hardcopy proof to CONFIRM rather than merely “assert”? If Kong Hee had permission to use the materials, its strange that Kong Hee did not mention this in his ‘clarification’. Its strange that he did not post a copy of photo of one written permission. That would have shut his detractors up.

Any self-respecting publisher would make sure the author proof-reads and approves the book contents. I know all publishers make their client author or his representative sign against the printed proofs? This is so that they avoid being blamed and sued by the author if there are any legal hassles in the book contents. Attributes did not bother to check and get Kong Hee to approve the contents? It is not their ‘oversight’. The onus is on Kong Hee to provide the material include the crediting of the external sources. So why are they willing to take the fall for Kong Hee’s ‘oversight’?

Cheat Grace said...

btw Stan, the books are still on sale. In English, Chinese and Malay as well. Check this out http://cheatgrace.blogspot.com/2010/06/plagiarised-articles-still-on-sale.html

Malcolm Loh said...

Jesus said he who is faithful in little things will also be faithful in big things.

The plagiarism was considered a little thing and dismissed off as an oversight. How do you think financial irregularities (which most would considered a big thing) would have been handled?

kelvintan73 said...

I agree with your comments.

Plagiarism is considered intellectual theft whether or not you plan to profit out of it. If you know jolly well the line of thinking is taken from an article or book you read sometime ago, you must acknowledge it one way or another.

Merely saying that it is meant for internal circulation is not an excuse for passing off someone's thinking as your own.

Stanley Wong said...

Hi kelvintan73,
It's more than just taking someone's thinking, this case involves taking someone's EXACT words/passages/articles.

JZ said...

I'm grace-based, hence I believe we should extend grace, especially to one in the same body of Christ. If we start finding fault with each other, we'd be worse than the heathen.

There are many out there who are just waiting for any small slip-up on our part on Ps JP's part so they can trumpet it to the whole world with a smug "i told u so". Just happened that Ps KH got "attacked" first. Let's all come together to protect each other instead of throwing the other to the wolves.

Whether it was an honest & unintentional mistake, an oversight or a deliberate act ... there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. In the family of Christ, surely there must be solace and refuge for those under attack.

If we say it's abt covering up of mistakes, then grace covers even that wrong, doesn't it? After all, we come to God with all our justifications and "carefully worded" confessions sometimes. And He still extends His forgiveness to us.

And they'll know we are Christians by our love.

Shalom.

Stanley Wong said...

Hi JZ,
How can we extend grace to a leader who has not owned up to his mistake but is trying to cover up with excuses full of loopholes?

When he comes clean and explains the whole situation truthfully and unambiguously, then that's the time we extend grace and forgiveness since he has admitted his wrongdoing.

I agree with you that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus but 1 Tim 3:8 says that leaders "must be well respected and have integrity" and in this case, the evidence cast doubts on this leader's integrity. The recent investigations by the CAD thus cast further doubts.

Stanley Wong said...

Hi again JZ,
You may wish to know that today's (4 Jun) devotional also contains plagiarized material. I suspect Pastor KH has plagiarized so much that he has lost count and is now having difficulty tracking all of them down.

Oh wait ... let's extend grace to him, after all he did say in his "apology" that "we have been in the process of properly crediting, to the best of our efforts, the original sources of the entries in question on the website edition of Daily Devotion".

JZ said...

hi Stanley.

I guess that's the same criticism being hurled at grace believers ... "How can God extend grace to you when you do not own up to your mistakes (confess,repent etc) When you come clean and admit your wrongdoings, then only God will extend His grace and forgiveness ..."

I just feel that this is the time for grace believers to really shine, rather than add to the judging and criticisms. One part of the body hurts, all of us hurt. Grace is after all undeserved!

Not to argue/disagree with you ... just wondering, that's all.

I've "adapted" other ppl's work/resources for church use before, not always giving credit because not normal practice where i am ;-) so I guess that's why i'm wary of casting the first stone ... haha.

Liu said...

I agree with JZ, just as Jesus said, he that is without sin cast the first stone. All of us fall short of the glory of God.

Like I have mentioned in my earlier comments, it's between him and God. Whether he comes clean or not, it's really between him & God. If he doesn't learn, just like Pastor Prince said, God has all the time, if anyone needs another 40 years to learn, God has all the time. However I truly believe when one's admission and forgiveness are truly received from God, one becomes truly humble in the process. That's what true transformation, I believe, is all about.

When we come to the end of ourselves, that we surrender to God, and say,"I can't, but You can." that's when He can work miracles in our life.

It's truly a humbling process, and it takes a lifetime, I believe, cause we are normally so insecure, restless, and wants to take over, wants to see results fast ... we forgot that we ought to let God be God, just when he said to the children of Israel, "Be still, and know that I am God."

Guess what, Pastor Kong Hee (let's address him properly. He is a man of God, ordained by God, we are in no position to bring him down. Just like David, who chose to honor Saul as king), may be a finger in the body of Christ. He was collecting precious pebbles (souls) for Jesus until he, for some reasons known only to him, found something he should not touch or collect. But he disobeyed nonetheless, and in the process one thing leads to another, this little finger of the body of Christ got burnt. Then instead of helping this little member of the body of Christ, the ears start listening to all the bad accusations hurled at the finger. Then the mouth also started to speak strongly against the finger. The other fingers on the same hand (his church members, those pebbles he has collected) could not really help him, though they tried to defend him (because these fingers can't apply cream or bandage to the burnt finger, they need the other hand). Besides some of these figners also got involved in the burning incident. Yet all the time Christ the Head of the Church did not condemn, cos He had already said in the Bible to all the members of the Church body,"Love one another." & "Neither do I condemn you, go & sin no more." But thank God for some members of the Church body who understood what Jesus said. These members are the fingers of the other hand. They decided to help this little burnt finger, cos he can't bandage himself, so he really need help from the other fingers from the other hand. Initially due to the pain from the wound, the burnt finger may seems repulsive to the bandage or cream the other fingers tried to apply on it. It's frustrating to the other hand cos they genuinely wanted to help but sometimes felt unappreciated. The wound would take time to heal. How long it takes depend on how receptive the finger is to the medicine being applied. The sooner it heals, the sooner it will become useful again for God, for Church of Jesus Christ.

Let us be the fingers on the helping hand, and not the mouth or ears. Let us use the other hand to help, not to slap and beat. Now that for a moment the other hand that got burnt may not be as effective, let us the "unburnt" hand shoulder the work that and help out so that the body of Christ can continue to be as effective.

It's all about Grace, Amen.

Shalom Shalom
William

I am so glad to be under Grace :)

Cheat Grace said...

I doubt I can agree with the above comments. Firstly grace does not mean overlooking or ignoring another’s wrongdoing. I agree that a good Christian should not be dancing with joy over Kong Hee being called out for wrong-doing. However, I cannot agree that we cannot point out his wrong-doing. And I’d rather we look at the Bible as our source of authority instead of using our own allegorical illustrations as proof. Yes, its all about grace but the unmerited favour of God also should compel us to glorify God and testify to his grace. Unmerited favour is also about keeping the body of Christ pure, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people”. Prov 14:34. Granted, we do not go around scrutinizing people for sin. Yet if wrong-doing is clearly seen, are we to keep quiet about it? Does not the Bible tell us that if we do not warn a man of his evil ways, we will be held accountable? Ezek 3:18-19. Did not Nathan warn David of his adultery? Was not Paul a well-respected Apostle and yet the Berean Church “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Acts 17:11. And they were called noble as well.

As a royal priesthood, every Christian should be careful about turning over his right to be taught by the Holy Spirit to another man, be it so even to a man of God. After all, when the Bible calls each of us a royal priest, then we are also called and chosen. If we look at church and cultic history, when the situation has been followers exercising blind faith and turning over reason and scriptural authority to one man at the top, disaster has always resulted. Read Jim Jones and David Koresh.

Plagiarism is deceit. When a man of God does it, he is claiming to do a work which he has not done. If CHC followers read expansively instead of clinging to their own pastors’ works, they would have discovered the plagiarism for themselves and corrected the matter internally. And when an external agency informed them, CHC ignored the matter until it reached tipping point. Its sad and the body of Christ is hurt by it. But such things happen when well-meaning Christians turn their reason over to their pastors. A pure-hearted pastor, whose strength is empowered by God’s grace, will never be afraid of being scrutinized on his understanding and interpretation of the scriptures. A pure-hearted pastor will not hide behind glib clichés like, “touch not mine anointed” and “let him without sin cast the first stone.” BTW Jesus also said, “go and sin no more” but as Stanley pointed out, he still continued his plagiarizing ways

I am so glad to be under grace too.

Grayson said...

Thank you, all of those who help defend Pastor Kong! For God says that as we love one another, truly we are the disciples of Christ.

Thank you those who pray and stand by him in these trying times. For those who are led by the Holy Spirit to make small cynical remarks, thank you for expressing your concerns.

With the same measure of mercy, let it be to you. Our God is greater than we all can imagine! God blessed!

Wendy Lam said...

Dear Brother William -- whatever you did at IKEA -- is a huge thing. God bless you.

Having lived under the freedom of Grace for so long, I am shocked to know that "targets" are alive and kicking in other cell groups and churches elsewhere.

People who criticise Grace as "cheap" and came against the message of Christ,,,,,are being slowly led, one by one, to discipline. People who lead by Grace, as in the case of Pastor Mark, have the wisdom to seek forgiveness and not stumble others who are not of the faith.

That pic of Pastor Mark hugging the Taoist Fed Head is a masterstroke of Wisdom that came by Love and Grace. We admit wrong, we seek reconciliation in love and we move on. Hip Hip Hurray.