Part 35. How Much Did Pauwsan Sutanto Know?

We originally intended to proceed to the alleged theft committed by Niah, the first Office Supervisor, but before turning to that matter, we thought we should investigate the issue of how culpable Pauwsan Sutanto (the franchisee) was for the chronic staff churn at TBI Kelapa Gading in 2006-2008.

Do you believe BF that Pauwsan Sutanto had threatened to break your contract without paying it out?

He was in the school when BF made the threat, so it is likely he knew about it. Who came up with the idea- BF or Pauwsan Sutanto- I don’t know. But at that point TBI Kelapa Gading was behaving a bit like Binsar. TBI was refusing to honour their own contracts. I wasn’t at all happy and made it known.

You said in a previous interview that a majority of TBI Kelapa Gading teachers broke their contracts between 2006 and 2008. Would Pauwsan Sutanto have known about this?

He certainly would. When BF was there he came into the school once every month or so. I got the impression he was unhappy with the way things were going, and certainly Pauwsan confirmed that to me after BF was removed. I remember BF discussed the issue with me once when I was a teacher. He said something like, “It doesn’t really matter if teachers break their contracts after six months. They lose their end of contract bonus, which is $800 and they lose their outstanding holiday pay, which is likely to be a whole month’s pay at this school, so even if they do a runner after 6 months we break even, or maybe even make a small profit on it.” Clearly Pauwsan knew that 4 different women and a couple of men had broken their contracts. I guess he accepted BF’s financial view of the matter and didn’t care if they left TBI cursing the place.

TBI claims it looks after its teachers well. 

TBI makes a lot of claims which are completely false. The truth is they don’t look after either their teachers or managers well in a large number of cases. To be balanced, there are some people who enjoy their time there even now, but I guess they are the ones who haven’t had much involvement with Head Office or some of the rogue franchise owners. There are dozens of people who leave the company with a very bad impression of it.

Do you think Pauwsan Sutanto knew how unhappy the teachers were under BF?

Pauwsan avoids problems rather than dealing with them. And he conducts his business affairs in a very amateurish manner. He appointed people to management roles, such as Helmy, myself and now Nugraha without even interviewing them. He has placed his trust in people who have stolen large amounts of money from him, including his own family members. It is hard to know what impression to make of him, but one of my clearest impressions is that he ignores problems that are glaringly obvious and over-reacts to small issues. He was calm when Nissa stole Rp150.000.000 and furious when he wasn’t invited to a staff night out. I found him a most puzzling character. But yes, he must have known that teachers were unhappy. I don’t think he cares about teachers, students or education very much in the end. He is a pharmacist by trade. Presumably he is much better in that field. His investment in the field of education has been a disaster, and a lot of people have suffered due to his poor oversight.

In summary, what do you perceive that Pauwsan Sutanto’s attitude to his employees was?

He knew that a lot of teachers had broken their contracts. If he had any sense at all, he would have known that the teachers were unhappy and that B**** was their manager. But don’t think he cared much, if at all, unless he was out of pocket. When he decided to remove BF it was in a context of falling student numbers and low revenue. At the very least he was negligent in his duties to his teachers, as he didn’t ask how they really felt until he was ready to remove BF anyway.

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