TBI Kelapa Gading: March-May 2012 (Part 1 of 5)

One of the more puzzling things (for Cameron) about the whole story of Kelapa Gading was why Luke Preece promised A*** and St**** that they could get visas at TBI Kelapa Gading when they didn’t have an English degree.

As Cameron said to me when I asked him about this this morning:

Luke (Preece) is a very skillful liar. He managed to fool Jodi, myself and most of the teachers for long periods that he was a caring, concerned manager. He campaigned to get rid of Retty and Monica behind their backs, and they may not even have known he was writing reports and emails aimed at claiming their heads. It just isn’t like him to make a promise that would expose him so quickly as a liar to so many people. He must have been under tremendous pressure to make such an obvious clumsy lie. He is usually a clever liar and that was plain dumb.

Cameron’s comments raise two main questions.

1) Where was the pressure coming from that forced Luke into uncharacteristically exposing himself to a whole school as a liar? 

2) Why was there a mad rush to get a pair of new expat teachers for the school?

The second question is the easier one, as we have all the facts available on that question. On the evening of February 29th, 2012, I (Sean) as told by the owners that they had accepted that I could be Manager and Cameron could be Actel (and they asked, politely, if Cameron and I had received our salaries that afternoon. I said that we had.) However, they said that they wanted me to allow Firlana to stay on at the school. Firlana, who I had been told had been fired, was actually waiting outside in the car park at 8 pm!) They also told me more blatant lies about the finances, proving yet again to me that they were trying to perpetrate financial fraud on tax and TBI Franchises (with Firlana heavily involved in both illegal pursuits.) They had wanted me to ‘patch it up’ with Firlana who had led a ‘stop work protest against a library’ and had asked me to keep him on so he could continue bribing officialdom and help them avoid paying tax and royalties. 

As Cameron said to me:

It is very obvious they thought they had you over a barrel. They thought, “Sean is desperate to ge t his boyfriend into the school, so it’s the right moment to tighten the screws on him. Yes, you two can stay on and manage the school but we are going to keep our man Firlana here too. If you want to manage it, you accept Firlana, despite his lying. We will promise to keep him under tighter control.

But I said I had had enough of their double-dealing and determination not to pay taxes or royalties. I quit. Udin asked me to reconsider and come back into the office and talk it over, but he had also lied to me about the level of revenue and profit in the meeting (again) and I had just had enough of the TBI Mafia Circus.

Of course Lipi left along with Cam and I, so the school was now down 3 expat teachers. Oh shit! One other teacher was moving to Penabur one month later, so they would soon be down to 1 expat teacher! What are we going to do now? They had expected me to patch things up with the venal Firlana and smile and go on as before. My decision to leave had caught them off guard. This explains the sudden scramble for teachers and where the pressure on Preece came from.

Here’s what almost certainly happened next. The owners rang Head Office, who had advised taking a harder line against me, and went berserk. Where are we going to get 2 expat teachers! Preece was going on holidays one week later and would be out of the country for a couple of weeks. So he lied to A*** and St**** that they could get visas there. Nunu, the new manager, was also telling them the same lie. The goal was clearly to deceive them that they could get visas for long enough to fill the gap in the teaching schedule. 

However, the plan rapidly fell apart due to the actions of the two remaining expats. They took A&S aside after a week in the school and assured them that there was no possibility of getting a visa without an English degree. According to our informant Preece had assured St***** that he could get a KITAS in Kelapa Gading. St**** was furious and quit that day. A**** left the school one week later and went to TBI Kuningan (moved surely by Preece with more soothing noises), where he was by all accounts a very well-liked teacher. As our informant memorably put it: “The first time I ever heard Luke Preece’s name mentioned was in the context of him being a bare-faced liar.”

Nunu’s time as manager was off to a very sleazy, disreputable start.

(End of Part 1)



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