I read with interest on the entire hacker saga. This hacker, named Zhao Ke, is one of my coursemates. I do not know him personally and I will not recognize him if I ever saw him around in NUS, but I am disgusted with his actions.
For those who do not know what it is all about, this Chinese hacker, in a bid to find out if he his results are superior to that of his RJC classmates, hacked into RJC’s server to download the information from a teachers computer, only to be caught by the technician.
I wonder why he couldn’t have asked directly. My own logical reason is that he is too snobbish in real life such that he has little friends. As such, his classmates would not converse with him and hence would not tell him their results, even if he asked. Why would I say that? I guess its obvious that his ego and desire to be the best is up in his head.
He has an NUS scholarship and is reading a double degree in Engineering and Economics. Yes, I would agree that he is smart, but his character and integrity is lousy. He was fortunate enough to be only fined $15000, and he even went on the papers to declare that he is penniless, and that he may opt for jail to cut down the amount of fine. What does this seem to me? An appeal to pity. And it is a wonderful appeal to pity because he managed to get loans from strangers, kind strangers who lend him a helping hand in his time of need.
Has he gotten any punishment? In a way, since his fine wasn’t really paid by him, he wasn’t really punished. Slightly, perhaps, but is it adequate? Its not up for me to decide.
However, I feel strongly that his NUS scholarship should be revoked. I must state now that I am not jealous that he got a scholarship, in case people start to leave comments about that. A letter was sent to the Straits Times forum, and I quote this:
As to the call by some netizens to revoke his NUS scholarship and the convening of a NUS disciplinary board to look into the case, it would be useful to keep in mind what a judge said recently: ‘We don’t want a youthful mistake made out of folly to stain a person or forever damage a person’s future prospects.’
To err is human, to forgive divine.
I laugh. Should we apply whatever judges say in every single situation? No. No doubt its a youthful mistake, he is young of course. However he is not that young in that aspect to be pardoned for his mistakes. A person his age who commits carnal connection with a minor (less than age of 16) is liable to be punished in jail, and he may not even be of adult age (21 years and above).
Does it stain or forever damage a person’s prospects? No. The only stain that is given is the fine imposed on him. Taking away a scholarship does not stain someone. Potential employers know of your criminal record, not whether your scholarship was taken away or how many scholarships you were awarded. Why would it stain? Why would it forever damage someone’s prospects? The criminal record does that, taking away a scholarship does not.
Whilst I would agree that to err is human and to forget is divine, let it be known that we have our laws in our country for a reason: some errs have to be punished, and some errs are impossible to forget.
Why do I say that I feel strongly that his NUS scholarship should be taken away? Well, a scholarship recipent has to fulfill certain conditions. Naturally, he has to be smart. No scholarship would be given to the bottom of the cohort, will it? No doubt he is smart, but the other conditions include having good character and integrity.
Now, surely you would agree with me that his actions of hacking into a server shows how lousy his character and integrity is. Even NUS takes a strong stance in integrity and character. We have been warned time and again that copying a Lab report is a serious offence and can lead to expulsion.
Surely, hacking (a criminal offence), is much more serious than copying a lab report, which is not a criminal offence? Since it is an offence of a more serious nature, surely the punishments should be more severe? Considering that copying the lab report can lead to expulsion, surely his actions deserve an expulsion?
However I am not advocating that he be expelled. He has been fined and punished (slightly). Let us be divine (quoting from the source above) and not expel him. However, since he has committed a serious offence that is not in line with the university’s standards of conduct, surely, he cannot be allowed to continue receiving a scholarship. If he is allowed to continue his scholarship, then the respect for scholarships recipents would be damaged. The value of getting the scholarship would be diminished since you now need not fulfill the standards of good conduct and integrity to be awarded a scholarship.
Hence, for all the reasons I stated above, I feel that the hacker should be punished by taking away his NUS scholarship. I would say the same thing if anyone else committed the same offence, not because he is a Chinese national, bear that in mind.