It’s not everyday that when you browse through your log that you see something like this:

91605 203.125.117.18 (F) (V) 2007-11-22 08:57:15 /2007/11/20/evidence-obtained- from-a-seemingly-fake-blog-to- present-to-court-evidence-incl uded/ (F) http://www.straitstimes.com/Si ngapore/Story/STIStory_179210. html (F) clip_image002[4]Opera 9.24
clip_image004[4]Windows Vista

Straitstimes.com? *gasp* Did they discover that I had been pulling their articles (but I did credit them and I don’t pull out all the articles – does this constitute fair use?) and placing them in my blog?

So I clicked on the URL with trembling fingers and and heart palpitating – so fast that it nearly jumped out from my mouth. Then… I saw it:

Blog with disputed photo lifted Wiki content

Netizens hit out at KL legal team in Pedra Branca case after plagiarism is uncovered

By Lydia Lim, Senior Political Correspondent

IN THE HAGUE (NETHERLANDS) – A PICTURE Malaysia produced to argue its case in the Pedra Branca dispute has sparked a controversy on the Internet.

Several netizens, notably Malaysian bloggers, are chiding the country’s legal eagles for relying on an anonymous blog that has been shown up for plagiarism.

Some have also gone onto the blog to post harsh criticisms of the author, who pleaded with them yesterday not to use four-letter words.

‘My younger sibling, who is 11 years old, also visits my blog and these words are not appropriate for her,” he wrote in a posting titled ‘Why the anger?’.

Malaysia had cited the blog as the source of a photograph it produced last week in an international court, to show Pedra Branca’s supposed closeness to Johor.

Singapore, in its response, raised questions about the blog and this was reported in The Straits Times on Tuesday.

The report led the writer of a Singapore blog called Simplyjean to analyse the blog.

Simplyjean found its author had lifted chunks of text from Wikipedia, whose contents can be edited by anyone.

The discovery fired up several Singaporean and Malaysian blogs.

One blogger, Malaysian Jeff Ooi, yesterday bemoaned in a post his country’s use of a suspect photo from an anonymous blog containing plagiarised content to ‘present its case at all places, the International Court of Justice’.

Another Malaysian Tony Yew said on his website muststopthis.blogspot.com: ‘How lame can our guys be?

‘Putting up an argument with plagiarised work from Wikipedia! Sheesh…there goes Pulau Batu Puteh!’

Pulau Batu Puteh is Malaysia’s name for Pedra Branca.

Singapore and Malaysia are appearing before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to resolve their dispute over the sovereignty of Pedra Branca, an island 40km east of Singapore and which stands at the eastern entrance of the Singapore Strait.

On Monday, Singapore’s Attorney-General Chao Hick Tin said the photo Malaysia produced was shot using a camera with a telephoto lens, which exaggerated the closeness of Pedra Branca to the Johor coast.

In questioning the blog, Mr Chao saidthe photo had been put up just four days before the start of the ICJ hearing.

In the blog, its author claims to be a lover of lighthouses and ‘leuchtturm’ is the German word for lighthouse.

Simplyjean found the following sentence on the design of lighthouses was lifted from Wikipedia: ‘Often these are cylindrical to reduce the effect of wind on a tall structure on less stable soil. An example of this is Pulau Batu Puteh Lighthouse.’

The only change the author of leuchtturm3 had made was to use Pulau Batu Puteh Lighthouse in place of Cape May Lighthouse. But it was done in a way that anyone who clicks on the hyperlinked words Pulau Batu Puteh is led to a page on Cape May Lighthouse in Wikipedia.

Meanwhile, some netizens posted criticisms on the leuchtturm3 blog of what they called the ‘doctored picture’.

Yesterday, its author confessed he knew little about Singapore or Malaysia and hoped to visit the region one day when he had the money.

As for Simplyjean, its writer confessed in a post that the Pedra Branca case held little interest initially. ‘But when they decided to bring the blogosphere into the news, then I felt that I had to do some justification for the community.’

Simplyjean has this message for the person behind the leuchtturm3 blog: ‘To the author (and all other implied parties), you suck.’

lydia@sph.com.sg

And additional reporting here too

What the case is about

SINGAPORE and Malaysia have a dispute over who owns Pedra Branca and two outcrops – the Middle Rocks and South Ledge. Pedra Branca, which the Malaysians call Pulau Batu Puteh, is an island the size of a football field located some 40km east of Singapore.

Singapore has exercised sovereignty over it since 1847 when the British colonial government built the Horsburgh Lighthouse there. But in 1979, Malaysia staked a claim to the island when it published a new map of its territories and placed the island in its waters.

In 2003, the two countries signed a Special Agreement referring the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Legal teams from both sides are appearing before the court over three weeks until tomorrow, to argue their case. A judgment is expected next year.

Wow! When I started this (seemingly brief) investigative work, all I wanted to do was to ensure that the reputation of bloggers would not be smeared by fly-by-night blogs (I’m sure there are a lot out there which are not malicious in nature), especially when there’s one where pictures are taken from it to be presented – in all places – the International Court of Justice (ICJ). As with all drama serials and movies with a crime and legal theme, I wanted to make sure that the evidence was bona fide – that whatever source it came from, it had to be “independent” as claimed.

Besides the Cape May Lighthouse hyperlink that gave the game away, there were far too many links in just a particular entry – and being an avid Wikipedia user and author (of just 1 article in Wiki), this all looked too familiar. While searching for “lighthouse” in Wikipedia may have produced the results I needed to prove my point, I decided to just Google it, since it may sometimes reveal more than 1 source.

Once the results were out, it was confirmed that the source had to be from Wikipedia – and zooming in on the spot where “Pulau Batu Puteh Lighthouse” was supposed to be revealed “Cape May Lighthouse”; and the rest is all history.

Also, thanks to reader Alfred who pointed out the media attention. 😉

And oh, I think the Straits Times team did a great job in highlighting the differences. I should either learn from them or take a 101 on publishing. =P

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 22nd November 2007 (here)



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