13 November 2005

Did Mr Wang Get Ripped Off?

On capital punishment again, many of my regular readers noted the extremely strong resemblances between my post on 5 November and the Straits Times article on 11 November. These readers either emailed me about this matter, or wrote about it on their blogs, or left comments on blogs that they know I frequent.

What were my readers' reactions? Well, some congratulated me, saying that I had written so well that the Straits Times felt compelled to say the same things as I did. Others were outraged that the Straits Times had apparently plagiarised me without giving me any credit whatsoever. Everyone's favourite cat, Molly Meek, wrote a long post on her own blog analysing the powerful similarities between my article and the ST article. Check it out.

I was not very perturbed by the matter, but a little curious. So I forwarded one of my regular readers' emails to the ST journalist, saying something like, "Oh, you would be surprised by the number of such emails I have been receiving."

The ST journalist replied to me very shortly thereafter. She sounded very concerned (nervous?) and took pains to explain that she had not plagiarised me - although she also noted that there were some uncanny resemblances - down to sentence structure and choice of words - between my post and her article. To give you an idea about how seriously she took this matter - she copied two of the Straits Times editors on the email and said that she was willing to submit to investigations on this matter. Here's an excerpt:
I realise that since your posting was published earlier, it is much more difficult to prove that I did not copy you. I fully understand that words alone may not suffice for explanations. If you wish to press for further verification, please contact me or my editors. I will be more than willing to submit to investigations. Because we view allegations of plagiarism with total seriousness, I have cced this letter to Deputy Political Editor Paul Jacob, who supervised and edited this particular column, as well as Senior Political Correspondent Chua Mui Hoong, who helps run the Post-65ers column series and with whom I discussed the column idea over the past week.
Well, as I had said earlier, this matter does not disturb me very much, so I replied again saying something to the effect, "Oh don't worry, I'll take your word for it, let's treat it as case closed." And it really does not matter to me, and I will take her word for it. It is quite possible that two minds could independently come up with precisely the same idea at the same time - after all, this has previously happened to Mr Wang and Lee Kuan Yew.

Although some will say that Mr Wang is very cocky for saying so, Mr Wang will say so anyway - it would in fact be a good thing for Singapore if local journalists plagiarised Mr Wang frequently, or at least cultivated the habit of regularly reading Mr Wang's blog. Then they would learn to write articles that are more thoughtful, more insightful, more logical - instead of articles like this, this, this, this, this, and this.

3 comments:

Molly Meek said...

The only worry is that the plagiarism (if any) might not always be a straightfoward sort of act. I could imagine someone (not the ST journalist in question), co-opting Mr. Wang's ideas into a larger framework of propaganda.

stray cat said...

That, i agree. but ST should pay you. And i think you should have let her get back to you.

Beng said...

Fast move by our main stream reporters in covering axx again...