In this article we introduce readers to TBI Sudirman, the school where Mariam Kartikatresni began her ‘Reign of Error’ as TBI Director. (Thanks, David Bradbury, for this witticism.) This interview is also an investigation of how nepotism causes problems in the staffroom at TBI.
What was your role at TBI Sudirman?
I was School Manager of that school for most of 2010.
How successful do you feel you were in that school?
I was very successful. The school had made a loss in 2009 and in 2010 it made a profit of around Rp.600.000.000, which is about $65,000.
What was the main problem before 2010 in your opinion?
It was plagued with problems, most of them stemming from Head Office, which is located in the same building. Many of the teachers had links with people on USG, the Yayasan which owns TBI. I was repeatedly warned to step very carefully in managing that school as many of the all Indonesian staff had ‘connections’.
Can you give me an example of how this caused problems at TBI Sudirman?
The first example which comes to mind is when Rima, one of the Sudirman teachers, slapped Atika, the Senior Teacher, across the face.
Yes, that is a very telling tale. How did you react to such an incident?
I interviewed both of my Senior Teachers, Atika and K**i. They both said the same thing- that Rima had slapped Atika across the face. Atika later sort of backtracked a bit and said something like, ‘It wasn’t really a slap, more a little hit on the face’, or something like that, but the facts were basically the same. Rima had, in a show of anger, hit or slapped or whatever the Senior Teacher on the face.
What did you do next?
I spoke to Rima herself.
Did she deny it?
No she didn’t, but she wasn’t apologetic either. She felt that it wasn’t a big deal! People should just accept her for the way she was. She was an emotional person.
Did she give other teachers permission to slap her around if they were lagi bete (in a bad mood)?
No she didn’t. Strange that.
How did you decide to handle ‘the slapper’?
I gave her every opportunity to be reasonable. I said that she could stay at the school but she needed to apologize to Atika and promise that she would never hit or slap another teacher again.
How did Rima respond?
She was uncooperative. She refused to promise not to hit Atika or anyone else again. She said to me something like, “People should accept you for the way you are. I can’t promise not to slap someone again. If I feel like it, I might just do it.”
I see. Is there any more to this story of her odd conduct?
Yes there is. She was a relative of Nena, who is close to Ning Anhar, and works for USG. Rima probably thought she could get away with anything because she had connections with the Big Fish in the USG Pond.
Do you believe there is a culture of impunity in TBI whereby the well-connected can act in the most outrageous manner and get away with it?
Exactly so. Look at Binsar, Luke and Rima- there are plenty of these unprofessional people getting away with anything because of Mariam or Ning or Nena’s protection.
What happened to Rima?
I stood my ground. I told her that if she could promise not to hit people she could stay. She refused and so I insisted that she not be given any more hours. She was employed as a casual. I heard that she was applying for a job at TBI Depok a few weeks later. This is what they do. They just move the problem around and never discipline anyone who is ‘in the loop’.
Did you stop employing her as a casual teacher because you are a vindictive mean-spirited person out to get teachers?
That’s what Luke and Colm and so on have been telling people about your motives and character.
Ludicrous. She had hit another teacher. It was Mariam and Ning and so on who seemed to believe that hitting teachers was okay as long as you were Nena’s relative. The whole organization is rotten with cronyism and double standards.