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Leicestershire English teacher abandoned by Kasem Bundit University, Bangkok

A Leicestershire English teacher’s commitment to his Thai students may cost him his life after falling ill in Bangkok, Thailand and then finding his employer, a private Bangkok university, hadn’t made the obligatory contributions it had been deducting from his salary to the country’s Social Welfare Fund, which guarantees medical cover for all legally employed staff.

After five years teaching at Apex Works in Leicestershire, Gareth Davies from the village of Glennfield, set off to pursue his desire of teaching English as a second language in Thailand.

47-year-old Leicestershire English teacher Gareth Davies suddenly found out his Thailand employer had not been making Social Welfare Fund contributions

47-year-old Leicestershire English teacher Gareth Davies suddenly found out his Thailand employer had not been making Social Welfare Fund contributions. Photo: John Le Fevre

About nine months ago the Leicestershire English teacher accepted an appointment to the department of English language for communications at Kasem Bundit University, one of Thailand’s numerous private universities, to teach English major to undergraduate students.

Though the monthly salary of Bt30,000 (£617 / $US977) was far from extravagant by Bangkok standards, the 47-year-old Leicestershire English teacher was happy pursuing his goal, even though his employer made him pay the cost of obtaining his own work permit and visa extension.

About one year ago Thai doctors pieced together a wide range of auto-immune-type ailments that had been plaguing Mr Davies for many years and which numerous UK GPS had failed to identify, determining he was suffering from Sclederodema (Systemic Sclerosis) or CREST Syndrome, a connective tissue disease that involves changes in the skin, blood vessels, muscles, and internal organs.

In the wake of an emergency hospital admission towards the end of January the Leicestershire English teacher announced in an eMail to friends and colleagues titled “what is wrong with me”, that his “heart, kidney, and lungs are also being affected”.

Leicestershire English teacher’s dedication his downfall

With the Thailand university academic year due to conclude at the end of this month, Mr Davies told friends he hoped to finish his contract in Bangkok and guide his students through their exams, mark final exam papers, and then return to the UK for the high level care he will need.

The Leicestershire English teacher’s commitment to his work has proved to be his downfall however and on March the second he was rushed from the university unconscious and unable to breath to a private hospital ICU ward.

Well wishes from Leicestershire English teacher Gareth Davies' students "We want to see this healthy Garf"

Well wishes from Leicestershire English teacher Gareth Davies' students. Photo: John Le Fevre

If was then that the nightmare began in earnest for Mr. Davies.

Thailand labour law is extremely extensive and provides the minimum employment conditions for all employees, including the mandatory contribution to the country’s Social Welfare Fund. Likewise the Thailand Social Security Act contains detailed descriptions of what safety net is provided to employees.

It was only after several days in ICU and after Mr Davies’ brother Mick flew to Bangkok, that problems with the Leicestershire English teacher’s social fund coverage became apparent.

According to Mick Davies, the Bangkok hospital where his brother was first taken provided excellent care, but a few weeks of hospitalization saw the bill sky-rocket to more than Bt250,000 (£5,000 / $US 8,000).

“I was told by the university that Gareth had no Social Welfare Fund cover because he had not been employed for more than a year, though the Thailand Social Security Act says says everyone is covered from the day they start work, or receive their work permit”, Mick said.

Mick said the Leicestershire English teacher’s students quickly rallied around him and raised more than Bt80,000 (£1.640 / $US2,600), with more than Bt27,000 (£555 / $US880 being raised by the Chair for the department of English communications at Kasem Bundit University, Ajarn Nuchamon James. ( Continues … )

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John Le Fevre

John Le Fevre

Deputy editor, Thailand & GMS editor at The Establishment Post

John Le Fevre is an Australian national with more than 35 years experience as a journalist, photographer, videographer and copy editor.

He is currently deputy editor and Thailand / GMS region editor for The Establishment Post

Opinions and views expressed on this site are those of the author’s only. Read more at About me

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18 Responses to Leicestershire English teacher abandoned by Kasem Bundit University, Bangkok

  1. Leo Reply

    April 2, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    If it’s of any consolation, I have to state that every so often this is the way Thai administrative workers treat other Thai university employees. I have worked at Srinakharinwirot University, Bangkok, for 3 years, and it was not until 3 months ago that I received the long awaited Social Security Medical coverage, for which monies had been withheld from my paycheck for years. Every fifth ajarn farang in our university is or was in the same position. However there are dozens of Thai employees for whom the university – in violation of labor law – has also failed to to obtain the coverage. I don’t think farang are always singled out for victimization, although we usually end up suffering because of the lack information and personal contacts. The real reason for the misfortunes of Gareth – and those of many other people I know here – is a gross indescribable incompetence of Thai administrative staff, plagued the entire educational system.

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    • John Le Fevre

      John Le Fevre Reply

      April 3, 2012 at 12:38 am

      Thanks very much for that information Leo.

      The problem of deducting but not making payments to the Social Welfare Fund appear to be fairly common.

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  2. donaus Reply

    March 31, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    ok here is what i would do. take him to the entrance gate of the British embassy where that well paid “Mr ali” or whatever his name is the boss and leave him at the front gate and call the media. I’m sure the British government will find the money to assist one of their citizens in their time of need.

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  3. TA Reply

    March 28, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    This is pretty common behavior toward foreign teaching staff. The favors are all being done for the teacher. You should be thankful that we lie about your social security coverage and charge you for it too. When a teacher is told that their contract is only 11 months long with one month unpaid and no bonus they say, “You should be thankful we make 12-month visa for you and let you pay for it and your work permit.” Then, at school break around October, they tell the teacher that they’ll not be paid for 2 weeks because they won’t need to come into work. For the teacher, it usually means unexpected unpaid downtime and they’re notified on the last day before the break.

    The list could go on. They don’t understand that they’re getting something in return. When they complain about foreign teachers’ bad attitudes, those attitudes are of the Thai making. It’s the neglect, the lack of support, the lack of planning, the lack of communication, the lack of guidance, and a myriad of other lacks and simple failure to empathize with the visiting foreigners’ concerns and frustrations of being immersed in a completely new culture that ruins trust. The country is locked up tight from foreigners even if they marry in. You can marry a Thai and forever have your visa renewed annually providing you show the cash to support yourself for the entire year up front. Of course, another lack, that of reciprocity, is what creates that situation. For were it my country the Thai spouse could become a citizen with all rights accorded. Yet the Thais are afraid the foreigner is going to get something that Thais paid for…even if it’s life-saving healthcare. They’ll actively try to prevent you from receiving what is duly yours as a constitutional right and by virtue of paying taxes. This case proves my point.

    I feel so disappointed, sad, and bitter for this happening to Mr. Davies. It’s part of a much larger social problem that exists here in Thailand and manifests itself as atrocious, unethical behavior throughout many other parts of the society. It’s the same problem that prevents people here from accepting they made a mistake, or were wrong, and then offering an apology for what they specifically did. It’s the same problem that makes them dodge blaming others by saying things like, “The car killed him” and not “The drunken son of a minister killed him with his car.” To say the latter would point out that it was someone’s responsibility that failed.

    I reckon it’s what the apologist below is shooting for…trying to save face for herself by saving face for her employer and making merit with her employer by being a kowtowing sycophant to promote yet another unprepared, impromptu, insincere public relations facade. Everyone knows what’s going on here. We know you better than you know yourselves. I, for one, solemnly vow that I will point out this hypocrisy myself or help others to do the same wherever and whenever I can; that I will not pull any punches expressing the truth of a matter in lieu of cultural sensitivity. I hope the rest of you do the same.

    RIP Gareth Davies and condolences to your family and friends.

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  4. Mick Davies Reply

    March 20, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Jo Jo, Miss James and other university Friends please do not stop having sympathy or stop visiting Garf.
    I do not know the ins and the out of the Law here, but the most important thing is Gareth has friends this should not change just because they don’t like this blog.

    Thank you

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    • Jojo Reply

      March 20, 2012 at 11:07 pm

      If that your wish Mick, will do. But I hope you understand what I feel Mick. I visited him today and brought some friends with me who could help. You know your brother’s impatience, and this is not helping. I just wish this blog and the comments wouldn’t reach him coz these are the last things he should be thinking. We did something that might be of good news to you, Mick. I couldn’t write it here coz this blog just ruined it actually. I’ll get your email from a friend tomorrow and send you The details.

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  5. Ray Sutthinoi Reply

    March 20, 2012 at 7:53 am

    To Jojo,
    You call yourself a friend and colleague . I would strongly suggest that you are NOT a friend !
    I would also suggest that your hospital visits are purely to appease your guilt for not supporting your “friend” who has been abandoned by the University you work at.
    But then again I suppose it’s all about job security for YOURSELF !
    You are a despicable, lowlife, selfish “human being” , who has no idea what true friendship is.

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    • Jojo Reply

      March 20, 2012 at 11:37 pm

      Thank you. You just made me realized that we are not really friends. Well, I was there almost everyday, driving 80 kilometers, trying my best to cheer up this very sick guy. Perhaps, what I perceived as friendship was not actually real. If we were friends, he could have told me about John. If we were friends, he could have understood that this blog was very offensive to me, as he knew what I was doing and representing. Perhaps, it was just me who thought that we were friends. What do you think Mr. Ray? It seems like you are very expert in friendship thing, so tell me, what really friendship is?

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      • Graham Reply

        March 21, 2012 at 9:29 am

        JoJo you really come across as a spineless, whimpering, low-life scumbag no better than the hi-so Thais who make large merit making donations … as long as there are plenty of TV cameras to record it all.

        To come onto this website and publicly attempt to terrorize Gareth and his family at this stressful time with comments such as “lost my desire to further help”is totally despicable and Mr. Sutthinoi is 100% correct when he says you wouldn’t know what real friendship means.

        From this story the University has had since March 2 to address this issue. It’s only now that it has been named and shamed and more people are aware of how Mr. Davies has been treated that you come back with yet more huff and puff and mambo-jumbo about “that might be of good news”.

        Neither of the Mr. Davies’ need might. They need “will”.

        It’s obvious to me that after being abandoned by the Kasem Bundit with no official contact – and you Mr. JoJo are not an official of the university from all accounts – both Mr. Davies’ felt the need to reach out to someone who could bring about results.

        I’ve read some of the other material on this website and it would appear they made the correct choice in contacting this journalist. Gareth, on the other hand, seems to have made a poor choice by considering you a friend. I suggest you pull your head back in and reevaluate your motivation and the comments you’ve made here.

        Personally, you make me ill.

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  6. Jojo Reply

    March 20, 2012 at 2:27 am

    I am Garf’s friend and colleague. I visit him almost everyday at the hospital and I am also very active in the fundraising activities for his cause. I understand Garf and his family, but I feel that this blog’s content is very unfair for Kasem Bundit University.

    The truth is that the university has been trying to find ways to make Garf’s case an exemption to the university’s decades-long health care welfare regulations. This is not easy to do because it will affect the whole university’s welfare system. The University was just completely unprepared for the situation partly because of Garf’s own doings.

    It is true that Garf was hired to work as an instructor by the university 9 months ago. And as required by the ministry of education, the university provided him with a work 
    permit, which, as the writer claimed, entitled him to have a kind of social welfare plan,  which the university also complied under its already established welfare program. However, the university’s welfare system was completely unprepared to handle Garf’s case because he concealed his medical condition when he applied for the job. It is written in this blog that Garf was diagnosed with CREST syndrome, a very serious autoimmune disorder, 12 months ago. This means he was already aware of his deteriorating health before applying for the job. I was with him when he went to a clinic to get a medical certificate as required for the work permit, and I did not hear him telling the doctor  about his medical condition. If he had been honest about his illness, the university could have had enough time to deal with it or could have found ways to prevent it from becoming very serious, which is the case now.

    Saying that the university has “abandoned” Garf is also very frustrating. I visit Garf almost everyday, informing him about the progress of our fundraising, and supporting him physically and emotionally. Well, I am an employee of Kasem Bundit University, and though I am completely sympathetic to Garf, part of me also represented the University. I am not the only one. Some personnel and many students led by the very helpful Nuchamon James in one way or another help. We all, somehow, share his and his family’s burden and I am reminding the blog writer that we are all from Kasem Bundit University.

    Regarding the photos and the captions, it seems like the writer is blaming the university for Garf’s Current physical condition. Well, Garf has CREST syndrome. The disease causes this, not the university.

    With regards to Mick’s claim that a doctor e-mailed him to just “pick his brother up and bluff him onto a plane”, i just think it’s impossible. Maybe Mick misunderstood the message. Several doctors told me and Miss James that Garf’s heart is not functioning normal. He can have cardiac arrest anytime. The only way to fly him back to England with minimal risk is to let a medical team accompany him with all those life supporting machines readied in case they are needed. 

    Now, my thought is that this blog won’t really help. I suggested to Mick to make a formal request of assistance from the university in letter form, not this one. I, as a friend, who considered myself very helpful to Garf now lost my desire to further help. My employers have been attacked unfairly and I am with them this time. I just wish they could not read this blog so that they won’t lost their interest in helping him. 

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    • John Le Fevre

      John Le Fevre Reply

      March 20, 2012 at 7:01 am

      Kasem Bundit University was approached on no less than five occasions to provide a response. On each occasion it declined to comment on Mr. Davies’ condition, or any action it takes. Mr. Davies noted that he was required to pay for his own work permit and non-immigrant-B visa extension and that in his case this required one cross-border trip and in your case two, which was paid for out of both of your own pockets.

      Foreign teaching staff employed at several Thailand universities who were approached during the writing of this article all said they were not required to pay for their own work permit or visa extensions.

      Thank you for establishing that Mr Davies was examined by a qualified and competent doctor prior to commencing employment and was obviously found fit to perform the tasks required at that time.

      The Social Security Act is clear in the benefits that are provided to employees in Thailand and in part states that these conditions are the minimum safety net conditions for employees in Thailand and that an employer’s own conditions of employment can not undermine the minimum provided by law.

      As you note, you and Ms. James are employees of the university. No one from Kasem Bundit University administration has been in contact with Mr Davies in an official capacity since he was rushed from the school unconscious and in respiratory distress on March 2.

      Mr Davies believed he was covered by the Social Welfare Fund to the same minimum standard as Thai factory workers receive, which is outlined in Section 63 of the Act:

      Section 63. Benefits for non-occupational injury or sickness shall consist of:
      (1) medical examination expense;
      (2) medical treatment expense;
      (3) lodging, meals and treatment expenses in hospital;
      (4) medicine and medical supplied expenses;
      (5) cost of ambulance or transportation for patient;
      (6) other necessary expenses

      Thank you for reading and I’m sure Mr Davies will appreciate the depth of your friendship.

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      • Jojo Reply

        March 20, 2012 at 11:24 pm

        John,
        I read some of your works and like them. I really appreciate your dedication to help others. I just wish you did more research, before writing the blog. I realized that Garf actually mentioned me to you. Why didn’t you contact me then? I could have given you more reliable information. To be honest, some of the contents here are half-truth. This is very one-sided. Garf knew where my position was before reading this blog. I just wish you were a little more patient before posting this.

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        • John Le Fevre

          John Le Fevre Reply

          March 21, 2012 at 12:23 am

          You weren’t spoken with because you are not pivotal to the story. You are not an executive of the university. You are not in a position to speak on behalf of the university. Mr Davies’ supervisor, Ajarn Nuchamon James, was spoken with and she also made it clear that she was not authorized to speak on behalf of the university.

          News stories are not based on patience. The university executive chose to refuse to respond to no less than five requests to discuss Mr Davies’ situation. Perhaps you are prepared to lie sweltering in an unairconditioned hospital ward unable to move and wondering where the situation is going to end, but most people wouldn’t be.

          As you pointed out, Mr Davies is in a serious condition and bills are accruing at an alarming rate. There is no time for patience.

          Abandoned is the appropriate word to use to describe Gareth’s current situation. No member of the university executive has been in contact with him since he was whisked away on March 2.

          Abandoned [adjective] (of a person) having been deserted or cast off | [transient verb] to cease to support or look after (someone) | ( abandon someone/something to) condemn someone or something to (a specified fate) by ceasing to take an interest in or look after them

          Here’s a few more facts to chew over you little Florence Nightingale you.

          1. When I accompanied a former employer of Gareth’ to the hospital last Friday (March 16) he had been asking for diapers for many days as the hospital would not supply any. On your numerous visits you never thought to take him any? It was left to me and his former employer to meet this need.

          2. It was an official inquiry by me directly to the Minister of Labour that finally saw investigations into the Gareth’s condition and his social fund status launched by two Thai government agencies, while an additional inquiry was instigated though a third agency based on a complaint by his former employer – who manages the English language programme at another Thai university.

          3. When his students, who earn considerably less income than you spent an entire day traveling by public transport to visit Gareth on Sunday (March 18), they also took him the diapers he had been begging for. These same students have now visited Gareth on numerous occasions and stay in daily contact with him, yet none of them see the need to come here and thump their chests proclaiming to be such a great friend. They do their work quietly without seeking recognition.

          3. On Monday, March 19 one of these students eMailed and said:
          He is lonely and sad.
          He said that nurses are cruel.
          He hasn’t bathed for 3-4 days because there is no one help him.
          The nurses replied when were asked that he should have done it by himself, there is a chair inside the bathroom to sit.
          But Garf said that he was afraid of falling down and couldn’t stand up.
          His bed sheet was stained with something brown,I asked nurses to change it but they just put the other cloth over.

          As a result of this eMail I telephoned the Minister of Public Health and asked why this was the case. Several hours later Gareth had received an assisted shower, had his sheets changed, and supplied with food he could eat, including someone cutting some apples that we had taken to him on the Friday visit, and which had up to that time sat untouched in the refrigerator because he couldn’t get to them, even though it’s only two meters from his bed, and was unable to cut. As such a good friend and frequent visitor, hos is it that you were unaware he hadn’t been bathed for three or four days?

          Your attention to Gareth is no-doubt appreciated by the family and Gareth, but your constant attempt to promote yourself and defend the university when it is not your job – along with the constant comments of how you have suffered as a result of your “friendship” – your message about missing appointments, cancelling a date with your girlfriend, etc., being further examples of that and the reason why it has not been published – appear little more than a repulsive attempt to focus the spotlight on yourself, instead Mr Davies.

          I suggest your read the Thailand Social Security Act to see what the minimum requirements under Thai law are for employee protection.

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          • Jojo

            March 21, 2012 at 2:14 am

            I know, I am not pivotal. But I just brought 2 pivotal people to him. I just helped convince these pivotal people to help him. I just helped convince these pivotal people to move him to a new hospital. I just sent a message to Mick about the details, If you are really concern about Garf and not just sensationalizing the story, call Mick, OK? Anyway, this will be my last comment because you just deleted my second reply to Mr. Ray. I hope you will allow this message posted because I want your readers to know that some small people really love reading your blogs. Thank you.

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  7. Bella Mistry Reply

    March 19, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    This is very shocking and very upsetting. I was his colleague at Apex and the memory of him being such a kind, very helpful and supporting person. I think in this situation the University and British Embassy in Bangkok should take responsibility of bring him back. As a human we should support them by donating generously as well, I will be one of them. I hope they can gather enough money to bring him home and for medical treatment as well. All the very best

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  8. Hamid Ali Baloch Reply

    March 19, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Its a very sad and heart-rendering story of a University teacher. The Government of Thailand and the University of Kasem Bundit should take steps to treat the concerned teacher.

    Teachers are the assets of a nation and no one should waste the assets of his nation. Being a professor, I do believe that the University of Kasem Bundit itself should take serious steps for the fruitful treatment of this teacher.

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  9. John Finns Reply

    March 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    I believe the British Embassy Bangkok can arrange and cover the cost of the air ambulance to the UK. You have to pay them back later, but at least that would get him to the UK for treatment.

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  10. Marc McConnell Reply

    March 19, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Shocking! The University must take responsibility for this as soon as possible.

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