Thus I became a keen interested party when the news broke a few days ago that a reporter from the national news a agency had been accused of committing "plagiarism", an offence of dishonour that could see the offender being given the marching orders if proven guilty.
My first reaction to the "shameful" act of what I deem a breach of "intellectual honesty" was: in this Internet age, how naive would a journalist be if he/she thinks she can get away with cut&paste news stories? And were the Bernama editors who cleared the reports not alert enough to "smell a rat" if the writer could veer off "normal" performance to produce a higher-than-normal level of writing because a copy-clearing editor would have had an "instinctive" assessment of that journalist's writing proficiency, no?!
First I quote substantially as reported by Malay Mail Online:
KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — Indonesian newspaper Jakarta Globe is accusing Malaysia’s Bernama of plagiarism, claiming the state-run news agency lifted two articles wholesale and passed them off as their own.
In a report on its website today, Jakarta Globe said it first discovered the alleged plagiarism when it found the contents of its article on the Indonesian presidential election reproduced and credited to Bernama.
“Bernama also removed the names of Globe reporters Josua Gantan and Andrea Wijaya, the original authors of the story, replacing the byline with what is assumed to be the name of a Bernama journalist, Elmi Rizal Alias,” it added.
The discovery prompted Jakarta Globe to scrutinise Bernama’s pieces for further instances of plagiarism, which it said it found in another of its articles, “Hatta Says Indonesia Should Take Advantage of its ‘Demographic Bonus’”, being the source of Elmi Rizal Alias’s “inspiration”.
“The same story was found on Bernama’s website with the slightly altered title ‘Indonesia Should Take Advantage of Its Demographic Bonus —Hatta.’”
The saving grace is that Bernama reacted promptly
Zulkefli Salleh, Bernama’s chief editor, in an e-mail to the Globe on July 7said it had started an internal investigation into allegations of plagiarism leveled against it by the Jakarta Globe.
“I would like to stress that we certainly do not condone plagiarism and will certainly take appropriate actions against anyone found guilty of such practice," adding that the Bernama’s correspondent in Jakarta had been recalled to face the inquiry and has subsequently been suspended from duty, he said.
Another "infamous" incident of alleged plagiarism-- yet another form of intellectual dishonesty" when a doctoral student copied substantially from another source to claim as his own for a thesis -- well publicised but drew no swift reaction from the parties concerned. The dishonest act allegedly involved the controversial Utusan Malaysia columnist Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, but the institution where he serves as lecturer, University of Defence Studies, to date to my knowledge had not reacted in any way.
Meanwhile, I quote from renowned academic Dr Lim Teck Ghee, director of online research portal, cpiasia.net,
who wrote an article dated Nov 25, 2013 titled "Plagiarism: Not just storm in Tee cup" that a serious charge of academic dishonesty has been allowed to remain unanswered since 2010 when the authorities were first notified about it.
The case of prominent Utusan Malaysia columnist, Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, who has been accused of plagiarism should be of public concern for several reasons.
Dr Lim noted that within academia, there are few worst sins than plagiarism. "The term “sin” may appear to be too strong but Ridhuan Tee who, regularly from his Utusan Malaysia pulpit, dishes out his pseudo-intellectual views on developments in the country from a supposedly Islamic perspective probably will understand better the use of this term in the context of the wrongdoing he is alleged to have committed," Lim said.
"Generally, university students enrolled in any university in the world – whether reputable or not – are taught right from the start that they cannot simply lift or copy the work of others without acknowledging and citing the source. This is cardinal rule number one – the need to differentiate between one’s own work and that of others," Lim said.
In the case of the allegation made against Ridhuan, Lim reported that apparently he (Ridhuan) had copied not only entire paragraphs but also the grammatical errors which appeared in the original blog article.
According to the initial report on the allegation, UTM lecturer Dr Airil Yasreen Mohd Yassin claimed that Ridhuan’s individual assignment for the Grade DS51 Efficiency Level Assessment (PTK4) coursework conducted from May to June 2010, contained paragraphs he had written in his blog in 2009.
No action by the authorities
Lim stressed that it is cause of concern that a serious charge of academic dishonesty has been allowed to remain unanswered since 2010 when the authorities were first notified about it.
"Apparently nothing has been done by the university authorities or the ministry in charge of higher education. Worse still, the alleged guilty party has been promoted rapidly in the university system," Lim added.
Lim lamented that any other respectable newspaper would have suspended its staff or columnist who has been accused of plagiarism and would not have permitted the errant person to continue writing until the charge has been proven to be without substance.