Part 15. A Fresh Coat of Whitewash for Bekasi?

In today’s interview we invite comment about the latest turn of events at TBI Bekasi from a former School Manager.

How do you feel about the news that TBI Bekasi has stopped exploiting expat teachers?

If it is true, it is fantastic news. It’s great for Mr Hotchkiss, who hasn’t had to suffer any of the mistreatment and abuse which the previous teachers did. I think what it really reinforces is the positive impact this blog is having. If this blog hadn’t shone a spotlight onto the grimy little hole that was TBI Bekasi, there is no way that any change would have happened.

Why do you say that?

Well, from what I’ve heard about this issue, the teachers had already contacted Head Office and nothing had happened. Clearly TBI wasn’t going to take any action against Binsar, this rogue operator, until a critical mass of discontent brewed up. You have to hand it to the teachers of TBI Bekasi. They have made their voice heard and completely transformed TBI Bekasi. This is really no small achievement.

How do you explain this sudden ‘change of heart’ from Binsar?

This is how TBI operates. They ignore and deny problems, or even demonize the people who are making the complaints. Only once it has turned into a huge deal do they suddenly take action. The make a change, whitewash the whole situation and pretend nothing ever happened.”Looke everybody, Bekasi really is a great school. Simon Hotchkiss says so.” They are all about appearances. That’s the key to understanding Head Office. They only did this because they were forced to by the witness statements. It’s very clear. I imagine that Mariam spoke to Binsar and told him the exploitation had to stop or they would take away the TBI name. He was issued with a stiff warning.

How is this strategy typical of their response to other issues within the company?

It reminds me of what happened with Scott Martin. They swore he was a great manager and very successful for a couple of months, then things reached a critical mass and they threw him out of Jalan Riau. There is no apology, no explanation and they go on, pretending nothing was ever wrong in the first place. It’s also like the thing with UNSW. They don’t admit they were using the logo illegally, but once we point it out, it disappeared from the website. They are experts at whitewashing problems. They are all about appearances rather than substance.

Do you think it’s good enough that they have left Binsar in the role and sort of promised (implicitly) to do better in the future?

Of course it isn’t. People in respectable companies are held accountable for their actions. People are held to account. This whole affair raises lots of issues. Why wasn’t Binsar being supervised in the past? Why did Luke’s supervisors, Retty and then Luke, take no action against him? Why did Head Office ignore the calls for help from the exploited teachers? It shows that TBI really does not understand what leading companies look like. But at least Binsar has had to clean up his act. That’s real progress.

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