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Academic on Chen Show Mao’s ‘plagiarism’: Failure to attribute source of ideas is in itself plagiarism

Posted by temasektimes on March 8, 2012

Dear all,

Posting on Mr Chen’s wall was never an easy decision on my part, partly because of my fondness of the Workers Party. I admire Mr Low Thia Khiang and Ms Sylvia Lim’s performance in Parliament and what they stood for. That admiration did cause me to vote against the PAP in my own GRC (even though PAP won in the end). Hence, by going onto Mr Chen’s work and saying that he plagiarised was never an easy decision. Nevertheless, I went ahead with it.

I did ask myself if it was worth the trouble having to scrutinise the post as it will (and indeed it did) incur the wrath of Mr Chen’s sizable following. However, I remember what I told my friends who questioned my faith in the opposition – that I will apply the same standard to an opposition MP compared to a PAP MP. If a PAP MP had made the same mistake today, I will also not hesitate in posting the same thing.

Going onto the topic of plagiarism, many people have mentioned that it is not plagiarism because the author has already given permission. To me, that is besides the point. The failure to attribute the source of ideas is in itself plagiarism, whether the author has given permission or not. Recently, I had the privilege on sitting on my university’s board of discipline and I have seen many students being fined and reprimanded because of failure to attribute, regardless of whether the original author has given permission.

However, I understand that it could have been an honest mistake by Mr Chen. Besides, I did acknowledge in my first post that he did mention it was from feedback he aggregated. However, looking at the first few comments left on his status, it seems that quite a few people got the misconception that it was Mr Chen’s own idea. That is wrong. Having read Mr Donald Low’s note prior to reading Mr Chen’s status, alarm bells did ring. Nevertheless, after Mr Donald Low clarified the situation, I did not bother to pursue the matter further.

If you have some questions or comments that you wish to direct to me, you can contact me directly at shermon dot ong at gmail dot com. I will be happy to engage you.



Shermon Ong


12 Responses to “Academic on Chen Show Mao’s ‘plagiarism’: Failure to attribute source of ideas is in itself plagiarism”

  1. said

    Plain nonsense, Shermon, if I may. Attribution is in relation to copyright. Copyright is about the protection of original expression of ideas. If the author EXPRESSLY waived his right to the original statements, the recipients of the statements are FREE to use the original statements WITHOUT attribution.

  2. Clown said


    1. When Prof in Uni did their research paper, alot of parts are done by the undergrads. Did they attribute it to each and every student ?
    2. When you submit work to your boss, your boss put his name to your draft and submit to his boss. will he credit your name ?
    3. When minister said $1000 can afford a HDB flat, obviously someone did the calculation so did he give the person credit ?
    4. When MP voice concern of their residents, do they thanks the individual citizen ?

    Hence I think its ok if u just read from article without giving credit (esp in parliment)
    Its also ok if u read digest and vomit

    But i think if u just copy and paste, LSB then should give credit.
    So hopefully someone did not just copy from Donald, submit as his own to CSM .. lol

  3. Gail Lee said

    NONSENSE. The MPs job is to relay the feedback and responses from the ground back to parliament.


    Now go back to your classroom boy and write me an essay on why this is bullshit. And do include all references and sources, APA-style.

  4. octopi said

    I think that people should learn that it is perfectly acceptable that opposition parties take the ideas from NGOs and bring them into parliament. The NGOs benefit because their voices get heard. The opposition parties benefit because it is very difficult to run think tanks on your own and your ideas do have to come from somewhere – after all you are competing with the PAP which can just get any old department from the government to do their research for them.

    Attribution wise it is a little difficult – not easy to say, “I got this from some other guy on the internet”. Do you hear the PAP people saying “I know this because the government told me this”? Do they get criticised for that? Do people even realise that the PAP is not the same thing as the civil service?

  5. Anonymous said

    Sour grapes. Just PAP fans out to spoil WP. Both Chen & Pritam have sought permission from blog writers before publishing. Nothing wrong with it. So you think PAP is original with its ideas too. PAP MPs will never have the kind of adulation that Chen will get by being in WP. So, sour grapes it is. Go on, PAP fans, go to your corner & cry wolf, way too childish.

  6. YEAHHHH said

    “The failure to attribute the source of ideas is in itself plagiarism, whether the author has given permission or not. ”

    Huh? You don’t make sense.

  7. Steven Lim said

    This is a vote of approval on your show of professionalism and integrity. From one educator to another 🙂

  8. Tan yan Ren said

    You sound more like an idiot than an educated man.arrange a venue i will take you on a debate!!!fool!!!

  9. MAKDIAGILA said

    Dear Mr Chen Siao Mao, As an aljunied resident, we never liked the WP. Worst you all are scumbags more wayang then PAP.

    Mod’s note:

    Hi there,

    Would you like to share with us why WP is more ‘wayang’ than the PAP? Email us at

  10. alan.trizon said

    I can only say that I am glad that my daugther is not in a local university. I am sure UK education will teach her better in exercising her judgement instead of picking bones from eggs.

  11. Great points Shermon! Don’t think my prof would have let me graduate with plagiarized work. My goodness! Plagiarism never even crossed my mind. Just take some effort to put the point in your own words to show understanding is so easy!

  12. The Pariah said

    Giving voice to citizenry views = Plagiarism? Q1: Is a MP to be a voice of the people – whether as 100% echo or 20% echo? Q2: Did Civil Servants and Ministers plagiarize when they adapted and/or adopted Citizenry ideas in whole or in part?

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