TBI defenders are thin on the ground these days. When we first explained that TBI was a rottenly corrupt organization which had stubbornly resisted all attempts to reform it – whether from Yoni, Cameron and myself, the former Academic Manager, Ratna or GA in Malang- we first encountered angry denial. Now things are very different. TBI’s many sins are widely acknowledged and the best defense that can be mustered by ‘”Chezal” (a long time TBI front on Dave’s ESL Cafe) is “people are naive to think TBI’s competitors are any better“. This is a million miles from the rhetoric of 2011 when they freely claimed, “TBI is the most respected and prestigious language chain in Indonesia.”
But why have some people rushed to the defense of TBI both in the schools and bars of Jakarta and in online forums. After 15 months of blogging about this school and industry, I think a few types have become clear. The text below represents an attempt at a typology of the TBI Defender.
1. TBI Mafia: This is the most cynical group. It consists of Luke Preece, Scott Martin and the powers that be at TBI. They know with certainty that we have told the truth on this blog but have attacked our claims with a personal smear campaign focused on sexual preference, personal hygiene, outright lies about the reasons people left TBI and much more. Their motivation is obvious. They have no degrees and are all but unemployable elsewhere. Luke gets Rp 46 million a month at TBI (and that doesn’t allow for money which ‘disappeared’ at TBI Dago) As a teacher with no degree he would get Rp 7 million at EF. He is clinging on for dear life.
2. Stooges and Proxies: This group includes people like Matthew France, Minerva and Niah from Malang. They got lots of extra payments and goodies in exchange for doing Luke’s dirty work. We have sworn testimony that Matthew took new teachers at TBI Kuningan aside and told them not to trust Cameron and lobbied for them not to do overtime so as to make scheduling difficult. He also lied that Emma hadn’t started because of Cameron (Cameron never even met her, a fact confirmed by email from Emma herself!) and he lied that popular teacher MB had been blocked from coming back to Kuningan by Cameron. MB has since confirmed by email that he requested to go to Bandung himself and Cam had never been dishonest to him! In short, multiple witnesses have confirmed that Matthew had lied time and again about Cameron to all teachers. He was close with Luke Preece and had been moved to Kuningan from Bandung by Preece, earning a Rp 4 million raise. Luke also awarded this teacher perks such as transport allowances and special schedules no one else got. Luke also arranged for Matthew get a KITAS despite the fact he had no degree. Luke corrupted people like Matthew, Nicola, Minerva and Niah, awarding them unfair bonuses and raises in exchange for slandering Luke’s enemies. This group has been the loudest in denouncing this blog, as it has exposed them for the liars and opportunists they are.
3. Friends of Proxies and Stooges: Matthew France was a popular guy and had many friends. Despite the fact that several people have now gone on record revealing Matthew to be a liar, it is hard for many people to accept that he could be so low. He can be quite charming it seems. Friends of Luke stooges (Luke has no friends besides Scott himself) have sometimes defended stooges out of friendship. They have been duped, but they are clearly innocent of wrongdoing themselves.
4. Scared of Where This Might Lead Types: ‘Chezal’ was probably right about one thing. ‘She’ alleged that Jakarta is crawling with teachers using fake degrees and CELTAS. According to her even National Plus and International Schools are full of teachers (and even DOSes) using fake credentials. The TEFL industry has been a ‘house of cards’ of illegal practices for a long time, and many teachers are scared of losing their own jobs in Jakarta. Once again this is fair enough. We understand that DIKNAS has made people anxious. But being scared about losing your own job (secured with a faked degree) is not really a good reason to criticize a whistle-blower blog, is it?
5. Currying Favour Types: Some current TBI teachers have willingly deceived other people about TBI in order to try and save themselves. A good example is BB, who just left TBI Sudirman in May. He wrote a highly cynical and deceptive testimonial for TBI in 2012 lavishing praise on TBI as an ethical employer and laughably claiming that “he couldn’t imagine working in Indonesia without a KITAS” which was put online as part of an attempt to discredit us. Incredibly his own girlfriend was working at another branch on a VKU at the same time. How could he not imagine working at TBI without a KITAS when his own girlfriend was 100% illegal? Obviously, he thought lying about how legal TBI was would win him points with TBI. (Both him and his gf have now left, ending our agreement with him not to expose her illegal status as long as she worked at TBI on a VKU).
This should provide some idea of the many ways that self-interest and ignorance have led to insincere, or sometimes just misguided, defenses of TBI.