COA asks KMT’s Chang to respond to claims of plagiarism

  • By Jason Pan / Staff Reporter

Almost 30 percent of the content of reports written by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) mayoral candidate Simon Chang (張善政) from Taoyuan for a research project at Acer appeared to have been copied from other sources without giving references, the Agriculture Council said (COA). yesterday it presented its first investigative report following allegations of plagiarism against the company’s former vice president.

The council, which funded the research from 2007 to 2009 with a grant of NT$57.36 million (US$1.83 million at the current exchange rate), asked Chang and his former employer to submit a statement by the end of the month COA Deputy Minister Chen Junne-jih (陳駿季) at a press conference.

The council would form an ad hoc committee to evaluate the statement, and if it finds it constitutes copyright infringement, it will seek compensation from Chang and the company, Chen said.

Photo: Yang Yuan-ting, Taipei Times

It would also require Acer to return the grant, he added.

All 21 reports contained copied passages with no references to the original authors, including some that were “directly copied and pasted,” Chen said.

Six reports had a particularly high proportion of such passages, he added.

The council used iThenticate plagiarism detection software, which is also used by Taiwan’s top universities and research institutes, he said.

COA officials said they reached the conclusion after manually comparing the reports and materials Chang allegedly copied from.

Chang, who was prime minister from February to May 2016, led the Acer project with the goal of “improving e-commerce for Taiwan’s agricultural sector.”

The allegations of plagiarism first surfaced last month when Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) MP Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said the Acer reports were a hodgepodge of plagiarized material, with many passages copied verbatim from other sources , without giving citations.

A 2009 report funded with NT$1.7 million contained many passages that appear to have been copied from a 2006 National Communications Commission report authored by scientists at the Industrial Technology Research Institute, said Chen.

“The Council has found cases of alleged copyright infringement… The 21 reports contain text, figures and illustrations consistent with those found in previously published reports, journals and other materials. That [Acer] Reports did not contain any references,” Chen said.

Chang’s campaign office said in a statement yesterday that “Chang has quieted down the allegations and will continue to work with the council.”

He will make written statements on request, it said.

Chang’s political opponents in the Taoyuan mayoral election have accused him of dodging the allegations, adding that Chang has not answered questions on the issue and his campaign has not held a press conference about it.

During a campaign rally on Monday last week, Chang told reporters, “I have faced this issue openly, there is nothing to discuss. There is no plagiarism.”

Chang later reiterated his statement, adding that it is “fair and proper to use published material” when compiling reports, citing copyright law (著作權法).

Earlier this week, Chang said a non-disclosure agreement he signed with the COA does not allow him to provide more information on the matter.

The Council yesterday denied that there is such an agreement.

After the COA press conference, Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan (鄭文燦) said, “This matter is now clear…We are not calling for any further cover-ups. Chang should comment on the allegations.”

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