Kong Hee’s Plagiarism Accusations
Many Singaporeans might know of Kong Hee’s involvement in misappropriating millions in church funds, a crime that he has just been given a reduced sentence for, but the amount of coverage afforded to his trial might have overshadowed the accusations of him being a serial plagiarist.
We dug up one past accusation of plagiarism leveled against the City Harvest Church (CHC) pastor to refresh the memories of the public:
Kong Hee used to run a blog, sharing the teachings and stories of Christianity as part of his “Daily Devotion” series. The pastor wanted to use the series, which consists of notes “he had recorded through the years detailing reflections from his own spiritual journey”, to inspire City Harvest Church members “to read through the Bible at least once”.
His posts were later compiled into two books — Renewing Your Spiritual Life in 90 Days (Vol. 1) and (Vol. 2) by Attributes Publishing, a local book publisher whose managing director is a member of CHC.
However, an extremely sharp-eyed netizen, who has since started the blog “Cheat Grace” to expose Kong Hee’s alleged plagiarism, noticed striking similarities between his daily teachings and “The Leadership Bible”, a book by American authors Sid Buzzell, Kenneth Boa and Bill Perkins.
Published in 2000, The Leadership Bible, according to its description on Amazon, consists of “52 weeks of study notes focus on personal development, leadership skills, and relationships”, and also includes “70 character profiles (that) illustrate success and failure in the lives of biblical leaders”.
Here are some of the alleged works of plagiarism:
1. Pat Riley Adulation
An almost word-for-word copy, Kong Hee’s adulation of former NBA player Pat Riley seemed to be borrowed from page 1,258 of The Leadership Bible.
Cheat Grace also mentioned that the plagiarised paragraphs also appeared in Volume 1 of Kong Hee’s Renewing Your Spiritual Life in 90 Days.
2. The Analysis Of Paul
Kong Hee seems to admire the Apostle Paul a lot. His tribute in his book, however, is copied from Kenneth Boa’s article on page 1,308 of The Leadership Bible.
3. Why People Need To Pray
Kudos to Cheat Grace for painstakingly pouring through thousands of pages worth of resources to CSI Kong Hee’s works.
The Straits Times soon took notice of the damning revelations in 2010, and went to contact the writers of The Leadership Bible.
All three claimed that Kong Hee did not request for permission to use their materials, but chose not to take legal action against Kong Hee or his publishers “in the spirit of being (merciful)”. However, Professor Sid Buzzell did threaten Kong Hee with “exposure to his church” and would “seek advice from others who are more legally sophisticated” if he continued to plagiarise.
It was also reported that both Kong Hee and his publisher were already “aware that certain portions of the content were not original” back in 2005 when his books were first published.
Despite being made aware of his gross oversight in March 2010 and promising to “properly credit the original sources”, Cheat Grace claims that Kong Hee continued to plagiarise on his blog.
His next alleged victim? Best-selling author on spiritual freedom, Neil Anderson, a highly prolific writer with over 100 books under his belt.
Yes, over 100.
Oh, and he was from the United States Navy too.
Unhappy with the coverage by The Straits Times, which “omitted some corrective actions that are currently underway”, CHC published an article to clarify matters.
Kong Hee claimed that the Daily Devotion series was “originally meant only for internal circulation among the members of his church” and acknowledged that he “could have been more careful to credit any source of inspiration used”.
This is part of what the CHC article said:
This series was originally meant only for internal circulation among the members of my church. As such, there was an oversight in not quoting the sources of some portions that borrow from the writings of other Christian authors.
There was never any intention to give readers the impression that the entire contents were written by me. I do apologize for this oversight in the Daily Devotion and Renewing Your Spiritual Life in 90 Days (Vol. 1) and (Vol. 2) publications.
The plagiarism claim was also resolved between Kong Hee and his victims — his editorial team managed to secure permission from The Leadership Bible’s publisher to reprint the offending paragraphs “at no charge”.
Harvest House, publisher of Daily In Christ, also granted Kong Hee permission to “use a paragraph in the Daily Devotion taken from Neil Anderson”.
Kong Hee’s books, which retail at major Christian bookstores for upwards of $15, were later translated into Malay and Chinese. Following the scandal, Attributes Publishing was forced to take down the titles from the site.
The Straits Times noted that while no further print runs were scheduled, no recalls were made either.
In highly ironic fashion, Kong Hee inserted a copyright disclaimer in his book, warning others that “no portion of his book may be reproduced in any form without the written permission, with the exception of brief excerpts in magazine reviews”.
While it’s probably too late for his readers to get a refund, we won’t be surprised if he spent his time in jail penning another book — maybe of his fledging oil enterprise — or be busy devising ways to infuriate more Singaporeans with his antics.
Setting The Ball Rolling
At the same time that these accusations of plagiarism surfaced in 2010, the authorities commenced investigations into his misappropriation of church funds to pay for his wife’s pop career, a crime which he and 5 other CHC members were ultimately convicted for. The trial started only in 2013.
Could this scandal have directly or indirectly arisen from the investigation?
Stay tuned for more insight into Kong Hee’s past from us.
In the meantime, read our story on 10 life lessons Kong Hee has taught us over the past few years, our story on Kong Hee’s dubious educational qualifications, and our story on how his lawyer is an MP.