In February, I received this email from Lillian Too’s company in response to my request for compensation for my translation of the Mahashri Sutra being used illegally, without my permission, violating intellectual property and copyright laws, without offering me any compensation, and without crediting me as translator. For the full story, read here: http://tibetantranslations.com/2010/01/31/lillian-toos-mahashri-plaques/
Dear Erick Sherab Zangpo,
Reference is made to your “Official request regarding the Mahashri Plaques issue” vide your email dated Feb 3, 2010.
We do not agree with the premise of your official request/demand. If you believe that your legal rights have been infringed, which is not the case, please instruct your lawyers to communicate directly with our appointed Solicitors in Malaysia as follows:
Mr Rutheran Sivagnanam
Chamber of R.Sivagnanam,
7th Floor, Wisma Genting,
No 28, Jalan Sultan Ismail,
50250 Kuala Lumpur ,
If however you choose to publish defamatory comments about our company or our principal Madam Lillian Too, we reserve the right to take the appropriate legal measures in the relevant jurisdiction.
For and behalf of
WOFS.com Sdn Bhd
Nickque BL Tan
And here is my response:
Dear Ms. Nickque Tan, Director of WOFS,
In regards to your previous emails:
I have researched this issue and I know that Lillian Too and WOFS’ actions were definitely illegal, and violated my legal rights. If they did not, please provide with some evidence as to why. Thus far, Lillian Too and your company has not been able to do so — for the simple fact that there is no such evidence. Lillian Too and WOFS have broken the law.
More importantly, above and beyond the legal issues, in the view of myself and the hundreds of people who have supported me, Ms. Too’s actions were extremely unethical, and I think that almost anybody can agree to this. I once again suggest you read the article at:
I think if you genuinely contemplate the account above, you will see where I am coming from, and will appreciate my perspective.
Thus far, tens of thousands of people have read about and are aware of this issue. I am not exaggerating. I estimate around 30-40,000 people know about it, mostly within the FPMT, Tibetan Buddhist, Buddhist, Malaysian, Feng Shui, and Lillian Too fan-base circles. It is very much public knowledge at this point, and will continue to be even more-so. The name “Lillian Too” has come to have very negative connotations for tens of thousands of people.
I feel that this what I have to do, in order to get the truth out there, and raise awareness of this issue. I do not think that this is the kind of issue that should be handled by lawyers, as it deals with a Buddhist sutra. That has been my feeling now and it still is. Call me an idealist, but I believe people have the ability to clean up their own messes.
That is why I have chosen to make it a public issue. People deserve to know. Until Ms. Too resolves this issue, I think that other people need to know about this, for their own well-being, safety, and awareness.
I have received hundreds of letters of support. I also know that hundreds of people have emailed Lillian Too and your company on my behalf. Many people have written to me and told me that although they were once fans of Lillian Too, they will never buy her books or products again. This will continue, and increase, until Lillian Too sets the situation right.
I think it’s very plain to see that Lillian Too and WOFS have handled this issue very foolishly. Madam Lillian Too has chosen to remain silent, while 100-400 new people every day read about this issue on my blog, on other blogs, and on Facebook.
My comments are not defamatory, as you stated in your previous email — they are the truth. I am making no false claims. I am not “defaming” Lillian Too. If anything, she is defaming herself by not resolving this issue like most people would, and probably 99.9 percent of Buddhists would — by making some kind of amends for wrongs or hurts you have done to others.
All Ms. Too needs to do is act like a decent person, admit that she did something wrong, and try to make amends for it. This is what any normal person would do. This is what Lama Zopa Rinpoche would advise her to do, if she ever brought it up to him. Perhaps you should suggest to her that she does.
To continue to act in the way that she has borders on insanity. Actions have consequences. I fear the causes that Lillian has created.
There is not a single thing that is not true in my article. I urge you to try to find one, and if you can I will correct it. But please do not threaten me with false claims of defamation charges. If this case were taken to a court of law, your company would lose this case. If I did have lawyers contact you, you would be paying me a lot of money. But rather, I want to see Lillian Too act like a good person. Do you think that she can have enough courage to do that? I hope so.
Until she does that, her reputation will get worse, she will lose more fans, and she will lose more and more credibility within the Feng Shui, Buddhist, and worldwide circles.
I do not understand Lillian Too’s stubbornness on this. Sadly, she is just prolonging her own misery. I urge you, as a human being, and not just her employee, but someone who wants to help Ms. Too, to tell her to do the right thing. If you as a person have any personal feeling of compassion for Lillian Too at all, you will urge her to stop making things worse for herself. And it’s not just because of what I have done and am doing — things will get much much worse for her in many ways until she purifies this.
The truth wins out in the end. The truth is this: Lillian Too’s actions were highly disrespectful, unethical, and illegal.
However, the good part is, it still wouldn’t take much for her to make up for them and still come out looking good.
I am not making demands, but I will say that I will continue to spread the news about this situation on my blogs and elsewhere, because I feel that it is actually the compassionate thing to do for Lillian Too’s sake. I sincerely hope that she understands this.
It is in her best interests that she learns to settle issues like this in a better way. I, and the tens of thousands of people who are aware of this issue, are waiting for her to do just that. Trust me, it would be much better for Lillian Too to swallow her pride and act like the true Buddhist that she advertises herself as.
Luckily, on the positive side, all Lillian Too has to do is treat me with some respect. She doesn’t need to admit to it — she already has, via a few different ways. She doesn’t need to apologize — although it would be nice.
What she does need to do is show some appreciation to the young poor Tibetan Budddhist translator in India who helped her, a multi-millionaire, make tens of thousands of dollars, after she had already treated him very poorly in a translation deal (here, I will ask you to read my article again carefully).
She needs to pay me appropriately for my work which she used, without my permission, violating intellectual property and copyright law, without crediting me as the translator, without apologizing afterwards. This is called human decency.
Considering the harsh nature of this situation, it would be nice if she could pay me say 5-10 percent of the total profits that she made from the Mahashri Sutra plaque (and, if WOFS is using my translation of the Mahashri Sutra plaque for a keychain, which I suspect it is, then something for that as well). This seems fair to me. I am open to negotiations, but I also trust that Lillian Too in her heart knows what is fair. This is pocket change for her. And yet, she should have paid me in the first place. How can she claim to respect these sutras if she has no respect for the translators?
I am not making demands. I deserve fair and appropriate compensation, however much it might be.
And thus, this is where it stands. I feel much compassion for Lillian Too, because it sad to see someone create so much negative karma for themselves. I really do feel bad that this unfortunate event took place, for everyone’s sake.
But I also believe that people can change. I hope that you can help her to do that. Again, it is truly in her best interests.
Once again, you cannot possibly be speaking honestly when you say that “your legal rights have not been violated”. Everybody knows that they were. If you truly believe this to be the case (which I don’t think you do), then prove it. Even if it didn’t violate copyright law, it wouldn’t change the issue — it was wrong.
I am a religious Buddhist and I do not believe it is appropriate to take this issue to lawyers. Lillian Too needs to stand up, be courageous, and have a heart. She will be helping not only me, but herself, and many others.
Lastly, I will certainly offer an official statement of apology to Ms. Too when she settles this issue fairly, and will remove all of the blogs and Facebook groups. I will also publish a blog apologizing to Lillian and praising Ms. Too for her compassionate action. I will also state that this entire issue was a misunderstanding.
In fact, I will do anything that Ms. Too wishes in order to help repair the damage that has been done to Lillian Too’s reputation.
Lillian Too thus has the chance to make herself into a hero, and remove a glaring stain from her public image and her life.
I want this issue to be over just as much as Ms. Too does. But it will take some action from her side to make that happen.
This is still a situation that could work out in everybody’s favor, but it will take Ms. Too seeing that resolving it, fairly, is in her best interests, on many levels. I have faith that she will do the right thing, eventually. But I hereby challenge her to do so.
It’s quite simple really — if Lillian Too does the right thing, she will win.
Erick Sherab Zangpo