Reporting on TBI Bekasi- An Interview (Part 3 of 3)

You have devoted a lot of energy to blogging about TBI Bekasi. Why does this topic interest you?

Over time my view on this has changed. At first when I learned about Binsar I thought, “Well, this is really serious, but it’s a different story to what happened to you and I. What these teachers went through was on another level.” But eventually I saw that it is all part of the same big story. These people were victimized by Binsar for the same reason we were victimized by Luke and Ashley. There is a culture of impunity within the company whereby well-connected or protected people never have to face the consequences of their actions. It is part of a big web of deception, lies and cover-ups.

Luke and his goons often say things like, “You think Luke caused everything. You probably blame him for the war in Syria too.” Can you explain what Luke and Mariam and the rest of the TBI Mafia have to do with TBI Bekasi?

I’d challenge anyone to show me the posts were we blamed Luke Preece for the war in Syria or any other major international event! Those posts don’t exist. Nor have I blamed him for anything that occurred outside of TBI anywhere. So the initial question is, “Why are they making false allegations about what we have said?” The answer, obviously enough, is that it is all part of the TBI misinformation campaign. The simple fact is that rather than answering our claims and allegations in a rational way, they have launched ad hominem attacks against the characters of anyone else who attacks them. This is a device these people have perfected over a long period of time. You will find similar attacks against former managers going back as far as 2009 on Dave’s ESL cafe. You will find dozens of former critics black-listed from TBI and labelled “crazy and unstable”. Rather than answer valid questions, they attack the people who dare to question them. They haven’t been labelled “the misinformation clowns” for nothing.

But did Luke Preece have any formal role at TBI Bekasi?

For two entire years- 2011 and 2012- he was the Head of Franchise schools! For 2 whole years he was Binsar’s direct supervisor in terms of the TBI Bekasi Suncity franchise school. Part of the job description is to audit that school annually and ensure it is confirming with TBI policies and procedures. We have now featured reports and testimonials (all negative) from 5 former teachers at TBI Bekasi. Not one of them ever met Luke Preece. For 2 whole years he was responsible for teacher welfare at the school and for 2 years he stayed away. The question is why? Basically, there are two possible explanations.

First, he might just have been really, really incompetent or lazy and have neglected to do his job for 2 years. Not once contacting teachers at TBI Bekasi for all of 2011 and 2012 would have been a serious breach of his duties in itself, but this does not appear at all likely. Franchise schools were audited annually at all other branches I’ve ever spoken to. Head Office turned up every year from 2008 to 2011 when I was at TBI Kelapa Gading, for example. Why would Luke Preece have failed to turn up at TBI Bekasi in particular? It makes no sense unless he was deliberately trying to avoid it. This leads us to the second explanation. This is the one which makes sense.

The second possibility is that Luke Preece knew that Binsar had lied to and abused teachers. Some of the teachers had, in fact, sent documentary evidence to Head Office but Head Office had suspiciously never got back to them. This made the teachers conclude that Head Office were in on it. I think that Luke Preece’s absence at TBI Bekasi was not an accident. It wasn’t a case of him being negligent or lazy. It was a case of him not wanting to get his hands dirty. Death threats against teachers? Unpaid salaries? Rumors of sexual grooming of minors? I can’t imagine Preece wanting to get mixed up in all that. Binsar was a part owner of the school, so TBI Head Office would never turn on their “business partners”. There is simply no chance Ning and Mariam would remove the right to use the TBI name, even in the case of gross abuses. That’s now proven by the TBI Bekasi case. Luke’s whole purpose in life is to be “the big man” at TBI and he has got power by constant brown-nosing of Mariam and other TBI heavyweights. There is no way he would stand up for teachers against Binsar, because the owners are “all powerful and always right” in the eyes of Mariam and Ibu Ning. So he wimped out and stayed away. It’s an absolute scandal.

What lessons do you believe people should take from the Binsar debacle?

It’s all about trust and credibility. They have said they care about education, but they allow Binsar to employ a 19 year old expat as a teacher. Where’s the “academic ethos”? They claim they care about their teachers but we have Binsar discussing paying people to murder former teachers? I mean wtf really. They claim to want to be a “leading language school” and yet they engage in back-street gangster-style antics. They claim to care about their customers but they make no stance against a TBI manager who allegedly courts and grooms hundreds of under-age girls. Where is their credibility? Shot to pieces I would say.

The real lesson from TBI Bekasi is that there are well-connected owners and managers who are “inside the loop” and who matter. The teachers are just fodder to be used up and thrown away. That’s what TBI is really telling the world with its conduct in this case. I offer my whole-hearted and sincere thanks to the brave TBI Bekasi teachers who have stood up and made a stand against the rot inside TBI. The fight against corruption in Indonesia is essential to the nation’s future and these teachers stand on the right side of the good fight.


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