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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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