'COMPETITION CAN SOMETIMES
BE FIERCE, BUT ALSO MUST BE FAIR AND LEGAL'
(Pepsi Spokesman Dave DeCecco)
It's about time to add a new travel story!
Reason for the lack of last year's story? Our former German
director decided to download our computers during a February
weekend... and... to be our competitor.
The beginning of the story: Years
ago, in the late 90’s (still married), a time where I often
did not know how to finish my work and dreaming of a 48 hour
day, I decided to employ a stranger, coming to my office,
begging for a job.
He was stranded in Yangon, in love to a Pha An girl, whose
parents did not approve of him. They had high dreams of her
which included her being a teacher, but definitely not
marrying a foreigner coming out of nowhere!
He first started guiding German clients through the country
and somehow ended up helping in my office. Due to my growing
amount of work he could fill in easily the job.
It seemed to be almost too perfect to be true
and my closest business partner Soe Soe and I were often
wondering when this bubble might one day explode into
something unknown. Never forgetting, that every day in our
job brings, brought and will bring us one surprise at least!
Looking back to this time, we actually did not have to wait
too long for the first symptoms of change. Before the
millennium we got the information that he was seen carrying
a baby around the city with a woman not known by anyone in
the society. When we asked him, he admitted that he forgot
to tell us that he has a baby... hellooo!?! It’s not like
forgetting your mantra or hitting the spacebar on your key
"Never forget hitting the spacebar on your key board over
But so what, I left and leave the private life to our staff.
Soe Soe, however, was very concerned and felt something was wrong and told me she will keep an eye on this
story as she did not trust his new girlfriend, the apparent
mother of the baby. None of our Myanmar staff trusted the
new woman in his life, which definitely was not the aspiring
teacher! For the readers who do know nothing about Myanmar,
just be informed, that in this country lots of people rely
on rumors and gossips and sometimes it is hard to differentiate
for us foreigners what is, or might be, true.
Well, during the first years of the millennium, when I was
not only busy with the increasing work in my office, but
also with an endless divorce battle turning into a kind of
rose war, (for 7 years of my life), another but a bit
more serious incident happened.
I wasn't sure if it was this being surprised or just this "deja vue thingy" happening to me, when one morning he sat
in front of my table, crying and telling his girl friend
left him with the daughter and he must find them. I never
forget the look of Soe Soe's face in his back (rolling eyes
and lips moving "YOU SEE!"). I gave him tissues to dry his
tears and some days off to find his family, plus one of our
guides to accompany him, just in case... Two days later he
found her in a beer bar at a local beach resort with her
other German lover, enjoying Myanmar beer. He came back with
the daughter only and let us arrange a nanny for her, as now
the toddler was without mother in Yangon...
The dutiful mother appeared after 2 months at the front of his doorsteps and after 9 months another baby
joined the happy family. Soon after, the proud mother of 2 also suddenly recalled that actually her niece who lived
with them was her real daughter from another marriage with a soldier.
Since then one incident after the other occurred, but he begged us to keep him as he needed the job
for giving him the chance to stay with his 2 daughters. We
did not have the heart to refuse as he was hard working and
really trying with all his efforts to educate his My Fair Lady.
Soe Soe's relationship to him totally deteriorated when one
day his girlfriend came to our office and threatened him
with a knife. I still was on his side, because we both went
through so much together, that I did not want to believe
that he was already starting setting up his own company.
Although I heard more and more "rumors" from real good
friends, I just did not want to believe it and took the risk
of ignoring their advice.
In late 2005 we were already aware that our confidential
assets and information were being used by him outside of our
company - this all during his so-called "overtime". No
wonder many of our clients got email greetings from him
"...best regards from Myanmar Travel at night..."
What he did not know, was, that we already had been starting collecting
information, getting emails from clients telling that he was
bad mouthing us, making fun of Soe Soe being a fake
director, and me not knowing my business. In short: Myanmar
Travel would not be existing without him.
His target was getting - without our knowledge of course - a new
company (with our clients of course) to be launched middle
of 2006 and then, as soon as his license was being approved, he had the plan to leave.
Beginning of February 2006 he realized that we knew more than he wanted
to and that we were in the process to do something about it.
That's when he finally stole our intellectual property. On a
Saturday late afternoon I realized that he was still in our
office, although we had told him several times that we do not
wish him beyond office hours working. Being abroad, I realized that he was online and asked him what he was doing
at this hour? "Cleaning up" were his final words... leaving me no choice than to finally accept his new
Congratulations! Your membership has been accepted!
S.S.O.I.P.T (Secret Society of Intellectual Property Thieves)
...and now the real "fun" started! Not more than 2 weeks later a lot of
hotels requested us to please to release our confirmed rooms as
there is this new company who got the same clients. Furthermore, many of our international clients sent us the mail of the
new S.S.O.I.P.T. member, in which he introduced his new company, which up to this day only advertises in the internet
but is not registered anywhere as a licensed tour company... unfortunately we received
cancellations from some German clients.
We sent out a mailing to all of our contacts and explained the situation and funny enough - what we never
had expected was, that YES(!) - it was only the German
market who did not bother to work with a company which
cannot prove any original documentation of having a legal
right to perform in Myanmar the work in the travel industry
they started (and are still doing). We thought that the German
laws are so strict concerning their licenses, especially in
the travel industry, but alas, we realized we were wrong!
Whereas all our US clients were in this
respect very clear: They found it totally unethical and even
criminal (right they are!) and non-discussable and threw the
mail into the bin. Some of them even suggested to put him on
a kind of blacklist - for example like this...
Well, we almost took this idea into consideration ,
but then we preferred to rather consult our lawyers in both
countries and were advised to start legal procedures...
which are in process now... but considering my 7 years' divorce
battle, we are very curious now how many years this will
That is the reason why we had no time last year for any travel or gossip story,
but now we are back to normal everyday life including its normal daily surprises.
Mingalarbar from Yangon!
Myriam Grest - who never experiences a dull moment