In this part of our ongoing interview series with TBI Mafia Victims, we interview a former school manager of Kuningan and Sudirman about the ongoing culture of sleaze and corruption which has been exposed within TBI Kuningan and beyond.
Last month we found an online discussion in the ‘Living in Indonesia’ forum, which discussed the fact there are still multiple teachers in both TBI Kuningan and Bandung on illegal visas. What do you make of this?
I can’t say it’s completely surprising by this point. But at the last meeting I was there for at the end of 2011, they had declared that there would be no more teachers on business consultant visas by June 2012 at the latest.
Whose responsibility was it to achieve this deadline?
The deadline came from Tuti in HR and it was given to Luke Preece to achieve.
Can I assume from what you have said that HR were not keen about the whole KTC scam to begin with?
They were very dubious about it. They were the most opposed part of the organization.
How did this opposition express itself?
It was very direct. It had come from HR, whose job it is really to avoid legal complications for the organization, that they had to be phased out by no later than June 2012.
It is quite openly discussed on that forum that everyone, including the teachers, know these visas are bogus now and that these’ gentleman’s agreements’ are made in the knowledge that they may never be completed. What do you make of this state of affairs?
It is amazing the depths to which TBI has sunk to. When I first became Actel, it had to be absolutely by the book at TBI Kuningan. I mean they were sticklers for doing the right thing in terms of following government rules. They simply never employed casual expats- not even for one hour- who didn’t have the correct visa. We didn’t use casual teachers even for In-House classes, where there was zero chance of Immigration appearing. The fall in standards has been very, very sharp since Luke Preece took over. People who worked there in 2008 would be shocked to see that half the teachers are now on illegal business consultant visas.
One anonymous poster once said that it was ‘very expensive’ to have all these teachers there because of the payoffs involved to Immigration and asked us to have ‘sympathy’ for TBI and its teachers because of all the money we had forced them to pay to Indonesian authorities to maintain this facade. Any comments about this one?
I really don’t think I need to apologize for asking TBI to operate within the law.
One defense that has been made by several online posters is that TBI is no worse than EF or half a dozen other schools operating in Indonesia. Why should we condemn TBI when EF and various other competitors are just as dodgy. Any comments?
I don’t think that ‘he did it first’ and ‘he did it too’ is an excuse which anyone who isn’t seven years old makes. But the thing is TBI always purported to be different; it purported to be so much more than EF. For them to now say ‘we are no worse than RF’ is an indirect admission of how far their standards are sinking. Also Wall Street has aggressively recruited the right teachers are stayed within the law. So TBI can look to Wall Street as someone who has managed the DIKNAS thing well, while they have just got egg on their face.
TBI Bogor has recently been advertising for teachers to start in May 2013. It says ‘degree preferred’ but they are willing to consider applicants without any degree at all. What do you make of this development?
I guess that sounds like a cheap option. But is it a premium option? Is this in line with their talk of being ‘a leading language provider in Indonesia’? How does this fit with their inflated sense of themselves as a leading language school? They are starting to look just like any other cheap, rough and ready ESL school.
The salary for the job at TBI Bogor is Rp 9.500.000. What do you make of this? Last night a comment-poster calling herself Michelle claimed that EF types would love that much money and it was a perfectly decent wage. Do you agree with Michelle?
When Michelle first appeared she entered the firstname.lastname@example.org address in order to be able to post a comment. This is Luke Preece’s address and it is only given to school managers not teachers. This Michelle had to be Preece as only him and few Indonesians know that address- all the other expat managers are gone. Therefore, Michelle originally was caught out as Luke Preece. Matthew France and others close to Preece have since claimed that Michelle is not Luke Preece because anyone could have entered that email address. But this makes no sense in terms of the initial posts before we ‘outed’ Michelle as Preece. Anyone could enter that name and address now but no one but Luke could have been Michelle before she was exposed. Furthermore, this Michelle knows everyone within TBI by name including managers of various franchises and so on. In the vast majority of posts Michelle is Preece I believe, though Matthew or Colm or some other Preece stooges have probably written in using that name from time to time.
When I worked there Michelle Preece got Rp 40.000.000 per month and a Rp 6.000.000 a month apartment in Jakarta. Would that degree-less con-man work for Rp 9.500.000 a month at TBI Bogor? The TBI Managers are just treating TBI teachers like idiots honestly. That isn’t enough money in my opinion.
When I was at TBI Kelapa Gading, another Franchise School, we had starting salaries of Rp 12.000.000 as far back as 2007. And starting salaries were increased to Rp 13.000.000 for 2012. Is there any real business reason apart from miserable cheapness to pay these franchise teachers as little as Serpong and Bogor currently offers?
They think they can get away with it. Bogor has had 600 students at one point- it was long the biggest franchise school. There must have been heaps of cash passing through. This is not a fair wage considering the amount of money 600 students generates. They clearly care about money more than standards and just want to milk a few extra rupiah out of underpaid expat teachers. That’s all this is about.