kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Ministry of Education plagiarising our works, claim local authors

"This is pretty shameful," wrote publisher and literary event organiser Sharon Bakar on her Facebook status highlighting a local author's claim of intellectual property theft by none other than the Ministry of Education.

"I have heard of other local authors not being paid for their works by the Ministry of Education... This is theft!!!" she added.

Sharon, who is a fixture in the local literary scene, was re-posting a picture and statement by local author Chua Kok Yee who reported that his stories were used without his permission in the current SPM Literature in English text book.

"Three of my short stories are selected as required reading for SPM Literature in English. Unfortunately, the text books were printed, distributed and sold without royalty agreement and permission from Silverfish Books and me.

"My rights as the author of those stories are not acknowledged in the book as well," read Chua's statement.

Silverfish Books is Chua's publisher for his book which contained the works allegedly lifted by the MoE without permission.

Contacted by Theantdaily on the matter, Chua reserved comment on the issue as he had arranged for a query to be sent to the ministry and is awaiting their reply.

Sharon's posting of Chua's plight has caused a flurry of comments and replies from local authors expressing rage at the treatment of writers by the ministry.

Many are outraged at the treatment of local authors and their intellectual property by the powers that be.

Some advised legal action while others urged the matter to be brought forward to the attention of the minister in charge and the ministry.

Others wryly observed that this is not an isolated incident mentioning several previous incidents when works of local authors were "borrowed" without permission, acknowledgement or royalty paid.

"True, never paid. My story ‘Neighbours’ was part of the SPM Literature 6th Cycle from 2008-2015!" commented fellow author Robert Raymer.

Another local author Kee Thuan Chye also commented, describing a similar experience he went through.

"That is right, Sharon Bakar. Mine was for the lesser SPM English Literature paper, with fewer students opting to sit it. When I discovered it, I contacted the Curriculum Development Centre, but they couldn't do anything about it. They had ceded the publishing of the syllabus texts to a school in Penang.

"I wrote to the school and they said the print run was rather small and they were using the proceeds for the school's development fund so they couldn't afford to pay royalties. Since it was in aid of the school, I decided not to pursue the matter further, and just accepted the honour of having my poem selected," wrote Kee.

Meanwhile, Kavyan Writers Group (Kavyan) president Uthaya Sankar SB commented how Malay language writers were also plagiarised in the same way when their works were "borrowed" without permission, acknowledgement or compensation by the ministry for the Malay literature component in Bahasa Malaysia (Komsas) curriculum.

"I came to know about the latest issue after it was highlighted on Facebook. It is sad to note that the ministry failed to learn its lesson from the previous Komsas issue," he told Theantdaily when contacted later.

"After the Komsas issue was highlighted and brought to the minister's attention, they promised that each writer would be contacted in person to get their permission and approval. Obviously, that did not happen," he lamented.

The writer expressed hope that the writers concerned would come forward to fight for their rights.

"Enough is enough. If publishers and the ministry does not know how to respect intellectual rights, we as writers have to show them," urged Uthaya.

Theantdaily has sent an email query to the Ministry of Education's Text Book Division Contracts and Copyright (Intellectual Property) Unit, though they too reserved comment.

"We are looking into the matter and we cannot release any comment without prior permission from the department head," read the email reply to the query.

Revelations of intellectual property violations by a ministry that is the very arm of the government hoping to move Malaysia into an intellectual property-based economy is certainly bad news.

For indeed, how can you respect a government that reneges on its own word and vision? How can we expect the world to respect our intellectual property rights if we do not respect those of our own writers?

How can we reach the status of a world-class education system and become a world-class developed economy if this is so?

Tags: moe, plagiarism

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