City Harvest under Investigation – Thou Shalt not Copy


In the absence of any new leads in the CHC Investigation, the “old” news surfaced on national news of the claims of plagiarism which first surfaced on 12 March in the blog site “cheat grace” and ran its course in the blogging world by end May 2010, when Pastor Kong issued a statement in his blog recognizing the error in the absent citation. However, ST took this further to contact the relevant overseas parties - Professor Sid Buzzell and Dr Kenneth Boa. 

 The story published 12 June 2010 in the Straits Times leveraged on the fact that:-

 a) City Harvest has not advised the above authors whom they had apparently plagiarized, despite the advice by Pst Kong on 27 May that “we have been in the process of properly crediting”.

 b) The newspaper report indicated CHC themselves knew in 2005 that some materials were not original despite the advise by Pst Kong on 27 May 2010 that “Recently, it was brought to my attention that in certain entries of the Daily Devotion series, my sources were not properly credited”.

 c) According to the blogger called “Cheat Grace” aka as “Tee Kay Hetch” who first highlighted the absent citation, they were still available online on 02 June 2010 on the Attributes MLY site. But on the Straits Times article, CHC claims that they are no longer sold online.

 d) It was simply not a case of an absent citation as claimed by Mr Robin Thor of Attributes but “wholesale” copying which was easily verifiable.

 It is surprising that this issue was picked up on the national news because the plagiarism although serious was minor. Making it an issue would be seen as being “unkind” and “kicking” the fallen. Yet, the fact remains that this was an on-going issue well before the 31 May 2010 investigation, and had its roots in the CHC versus NCC (“Law” versus “Grace”) debate over the last decade. The term “Cheat Grace” is a play on the words “Cheap Grace” which Pastor Kong has often accused those who preached grace. I have seen members who had wanted to switch from CHC to NCC called in for an “interview” where they will “tell all” on NCC.

 The name of the blogger Cheat Grace revealed in Straits Times to be a Mr “Tee Kay Hetch” is likely again to be a pseudonym. If we re-arranged the letters of the name, what do we get – “Teach Ye KH”. It is not for us to “teach” Pastor Kong or to be God. It is interesting to note on the bottom of the Screen Print out of the Attributes Web site by “Cheat Grace”, there was another name "tay Ban Guan" there on a “word” application tab when we enlarged the screen. Was this his real name?

 Pastor Kong has been a strong advocate of the Mosaic Law for the last decade. He has used the Jewish laws to be very strict against gays and for tithing. He is not judged by the bloggers rather by the same measure that he used to judge others for the last 20 years. If we live by the Law, we will be judged by the law. If he had lived by grace, he would be given grace. That is the power inherent in the Law, in the word of God, the power to condemn us as sinners needing Christ, the Savior. Therefore, any small issue such as plagiarism will be brought up, the same manner we accused the spec in the eyes of gay men as a “sin” whilst we do not see the log in our own eyes. What we sow, has a potential for harvest. CHC should not have overlooked having a “Bible School” by itself, and having pride itself on obedience to the religious law it becomes a case of cheating. Let us live by grace instead.

 In this time of trials and testing for CHC, we should standby this church in prayers that God’s grace may prevail and that the faith of the members will remain strong and that they may not be too adversely disappointed. 



 Dear Friends,

 Recently, it was brought to my attention that in certain entries of the Daily Devotion series, my sources were not properly credited.

 These devotions were written many years ago as an inspirational aid to encourage CHC members to read through the Bible at least once. They consist of notes that I have recorded through the years detailing reflections from my own spiritual journey, as well as select readings of other Christian authors who inspire me.

 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. A section of the series was subsequently compiled by a local publisher into two books, Renewing Your Spiritual Life in 90 Days (Vol. 1) and (Vol. 2). I recognize that we could have been more careful to credit any source of inspiration used. Since we were informed about our oversight in March this year, we have been in the process of properly crediting, to the best of our efforts, the original sources of the entries in question on the website edition of Daily Devotion. The hardcopy editions of these publications are now out of print. The Daily Devotion series is only available free-of-charge on my website.

 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.

 Thanks for your continuing love and support,


27 May 2010


Jun 12, 2010 (Straits Times)
City Harvest founder now accused of plagiarism
He allegedly used copied material in his books and website
By Ted Chen

Pastor Kong (above) used material from Leadership Bible, written by three Americans. His last website entry notes a lack of care in crediting 'any source of inspiration'. -- PHOTO: CITY HARVEST

TWO American authors of a Christian study book have accused City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee of plagiarising their work in his books and website.

Mr Kong, 46, had been updating his website daily with an inspirational passage which he called the 'Daily Devotion', before being called up by the police last Monday to help with investigations into alleged misuse of funds within the church.

A Singaporean blogger spotted that some of the passages in the website were similar to the work of the Americans.

He then sent an e-mail to alert two of the book's three authors, Professor Sid Buzzell and Dr Kenneth Boa.

Both men told The Straits Times that Mr Kong had not asked them for permission to use their materials.

However, they would not be pursuing the matter further, as long as he stopped copying without crediting, they said.

'In the spirit of our book's notes (which talk about being merciful), we prefer to let the matter go rather than create issues for Mr Kong,' said Prof Buzzell, a dean of the school of theology at Colorado Christian University.

'If he continues to copy the material, we can take it from there.'

Should the plagiarism persist, Prof Buzzell would contact him and 'threaten him with exposure to his church', and also 'seek advice from others who are more legally sophisticated about such things'.

On Mr Kong's website, in his last entry in Daily Devotion last Monday, there was a note which said: 'We could have been more careful to credit any source of inspiration used.'

It added: 'There was never any intention to give readers the impression that the entire contents were written by me.'

Mr Kong, who was among 17 people called up by police for investigations, could not be reached for comment. Queries sent to the church since Thursday also went unanswered.

In 2005, Mr Kong's daily posts were compiled into two books, volumes one and two of Renewing Your Spiritual Energy In 90 Days. The two books also did not credit the use of outside sources or texts, and claimed copyright belonged solely to him.

The book that Mr Kong lifted materials from, Leadership Bible, was published 10 years ago and was written by three Americans. It comprises lessons for 52 weeks, using biblical interpretations to train and educate future church leaders.

The third author of the book, Christian writer Bill Perkins, 61, was made aware of the situation only this week by The Straits Times. He said: 'Plagiarism is wrong, regardless of the motive... It misleads the reader into thinking something about the author that is not true.'

The three authors would still have been in the dark, if not for a Singaporean blogger who gave his name as Tee Kay Hetch.

Mr Tee first highlighted the plagiarism on his blog, entitled Cheat Grace, on March12. Over nearly three months, he documented similarities between Mr Kong's postings and parts of Leadership Bible. In some instances, entire passages of about 400 words had been copied.

Apart from Leadership Bible, the blog also highlighted other works that may have been copied, including content by well-known Christian authors Derek Prince and Neil Anderson.

Mr Tee stopped posting on his blog on Tuesday, citing threats and possible account hacking as his reasons.

While borrowing the work of other pastors is common in sermons, preachers will often credit their sources, said a cell group leader from another church.

Mr Robin Thor, 35, managing director of Attributes Publishing, which printed Mr Kong's books in 2005, said the uproar was due to a 'lack of citation'.

The City Harvest Church member added that, at the time of publication, both himself and Mr Kong were aware that certain portions of the content were not original.

So far, no legal action has been taken against the publishing company, said Mr Thor. Attributes has 'made amendments to our soft copy to include the citation'.

While Attributes no longer sells the books online, both volumes are still on sale at major Christian bookstores. Prices range from $15 to $18.90. No more print runs for the books are currently scheduled, but no recall has been made either of books still on the shelves.

Numbers for books in circulation and sales were not available.

City Harvest member Amanda Ng, 25, said: 'It's not right to plagiarise... but we always take references from everywhere when studying the Bible.'

Mr Kong should apologise, the teacher added, and stop selling his books.




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