Most of you won’t remember Colm O’Mahoney. He worked at TBI for around 10 months from mid 2010- June 2011 and ended up breaking his contract with TBI to go to a better paying position at a National Plus school called Sekolah Terpadu Pahoa, which is located somewhere in the west of Jakarta. By 2013 he should no longer have any relevance in the debate, and yet he has appointed himself as something of a TBI Defender. Posting as “Def Jam” he has asked people not to believe this blog on both Living in Indonesia forum and again (recently) on Dave’s ESL Cafe. He has repeatedly lambasted us for our “obsession” with TBI, but he has been obsessed with this blog himself, bombarding us and other forums with angry defenses of TBI and attacks on us. What is going on with this guy? Why did he opportunistically dump TBI himself (for better pay) but then re-invent himself as a defender of TBI a year later? Let’s explore his contradictory behavior.
When Colm worked at TBI he was angry. Close to Matthew France (who Luke Preece described as “a little school girl” who was constantly running to him with complaints), Colm was also an angry, outspoken teacher. He liked Wati, the former TBI manager, because she didn’t ask teachers to do lesson prep. He didn’t want to have to wear tie or come into the school even 45 minutes before his first class. “Money for nothing”, seemed to be his workplace mantra. But Colm’s final and most vocal campaign was in favor of his right to be paid an end-of-contract bonus for a contract he was breaking. There were clear contractual penalties for breaking your contract, but he was outraged at being asked to pay these by TBI too (even though he had, you know, signed the contract.)
But let’s give Colm and Matthew the benefit of the doubt. Let’s imagine that they really were what they said they were. They were campaigners for teacher’s rights who actually believed they shouldn’t have to do lesson prep, wear ties or teach business classes “because TBI made too much money off them” (Matthew France’s words). If they really were serious, these teachers’ rights activists would have been outraged by the real abuses at TBI Bekasi. There full salaries weren’t paid, promised THR and airline contributions weren’t given to teachers, teacher’s things were stolen in the school, death threats were made, teachers were made to teach 35 kids per class and female teachers were sexually harassed. Forget no tie. Here we have real teacher abuse.
But have either Colm or Matthew said one thing against real teacher abuse when it happened to other teachers? Have the spoken out once in support of TBI Bekasi teachers? No, in fact they have encouraged other TEFL teachers to take accusations against TBI with “a grain of salt” (a favorite Colm phrase). Have they taken any interest or shown any sympathy for teachers who were ripped off millions of rupiah every month by Binsar or Bekasi? Not a word. Their supposed “principles” flew out the window the minute they got their own bonus and pay out from TBI. In fact, Colm has actually volunteered his services to Luke and Matthew to try and salvage the reputation of TBI, even though he dumped it himself.
So what to make of Colm’s inconsistency? Why are “teachers’ rights” important when he is concerned but serious abuses are unimportant when they happen to someone else? The answer is clear. Colm was always looking after #1. Selfish and self-centred, he stormed right out of TBI when his final pay had gone into the bank, dumping his students mid-lesson. He then boasted about how clever he was for leaving his former manager “in the lurch”. This was an unintentionally revealing moment. He cared not one bit his students, obviously. How would Colm’s students have felt being dumped in the middle of class? As if Colm cared. He had a better paying job to go to. What about the teachers of TBI Bekasi who were intimidated and lied to systematically by Binsar? As if Colm cared. Luke looked after him by getting him out of his contractual penalties, and now he is returning the favor. It’s that simple.