Call for inquiry into death & treatment of Kasem Bundit University English teacher Gareth Davies by British Embassy Bangkok & employer

Call for inquiry into death & treatment of Kasem Bundit University English teacher Gareth Davies by British Embassy Bangkok & employer
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The brother of a Leicestershire English teacher who died in Bangkok yesterday (March 26) is calling for an inquiry into the British Embassy Bangkok’s handling of the matter, in addition to an inquiry by the Thailand Government into his employment by Kasem Bundit University.

Speaking from his home in Devon, Michael Davies said the manner in which the British Embassy Bangkok handled his brother Gareth’s basic human rights was “absolute crap”, at the same time lambasting his brother’s employer, Kasem Bundit University, for ignoring Gareth and failing to correct a wrong for almost a month.

“The foreign service costs the taxpayer a lot of money, but when people are most vulnerable and in need of assistance the average UK citizen abroad can’t get these well-paid, trumped-up clerks to get out of their air-conditioned offices when a British subject is in dire need”.

In an attempt to gain answers Mr Davies said he had requested an autopsy be performed on his brother in Bangkok, as his condition seemed to have deteriorated rapidly over the last week or so.

British Embassy Bangkok failed to make one face-to-face visit

Machael Davies, the British Embassy Bangkok’s handling of Gareth’s illness has been “absolute crap”
Machael Davies, the British Embassy Bangkok’s handling of Gareth’s illness has been “absolute crap” Michael Davies Facebook page

On March 16 in an eMail to photo-journ’s newsblog, Mr Davies said:

Spoke on the phone with Gareth today.
Indications are that he may be able to fly home soon on normal flight. I am now in touch with Embassy and they will assist in arrangements.
I have also asked for arrangements to pay hospital. Can you please assure doctors that I am attempting to pay ASAP.
Need them to take care of him.

“Despite several alerts from different people that Gareth was deteriorating and being neglected, British Embassy staff in Bangkok failed to undertake a single face-to-face consular visit”, Mr Davies said, adding he was told that “because he had access to a mobile phone they didn’t think a contact visit was necessary.

“Gareth died at about 7am Bangkok time, which is 1am in England. But I didn’t get a phone call from the British Embassy Bangkok until 8.30pm Bangkok time‚ 2.30pm in the UK, and even then the chap just said, “I understand you’ve spoken to the police” and went on from there.

“The British Embassy Bangkok’s got my home, work, and mobile numbers and I told him if it hadn’t been for Gareth’s friends in Bangkok and Twitter, I would have been thinking Gareth was still alive up until that time”

UK worker protection in Thailand

Mr Davies also criticised his brother’s employer, privately-owned Kasem Bundit University, for failing to ensure Gareth was enrolled in Thailand’s Social Welfare Fund, as required by Thailand labour laws, until media attention brought it into the spotlight last week.

“The Thailand government wants English teachers to go there, but when people with a passion for teaching English to foreign students do, they are often paid poorly, charged “farang prices”, and not given the basic rights and protection that a Thai employer would even think about withholding from local staff.

Thai labour law provides employees with social welfare coverage from their commencement date, but only if their contributions are forwarded to the fund.
Thai labour law provides employees with social welfare coverage from their commencement date, but only if their contributions are forwarded to the fund. John Le Fevre

“There’s no question Gareth was ill. But if the payments Kasem Bundit University had been taking from his salary had been paid to the Social Welfare Fund as required I wouldn’t have had to move him to a hospital I could afford 45 miles (72km) from Bangkok, instead of to a hospital with the specialists necessary to treat his illness”, Mr Davies said.

Born in the village of Glennfield, 47-year-old Leicestershire English teacher Gareth Davies accepted a staff teaching position with Kasem Bundit University’s department of English language for communications.

On October 17, 2011 he was issued his Thailand work permit, though he had been teaching at Kasem Bundit University for several months prior to that while it was being processed.

Thailand’s Social Security Office website states: ‘A notice to register the insured with the Zone Office of Social Security must be given within 30 days with effect from the date on which the employee is engaged as an employee or otherwise it is an offense punishable by not more than 6 months imprisonment or a penalty fine of not more than 20,000 Baht (£408 / US$650) or both’.

UK ambassador claims powerless to intervene

In a flurry of Twitter messages with photo-journ’s newsblog last Friday, the British Ambassador to Thailand, Mr Asif Ahmad, said “visits not the only way we help 100’s of Brits in hospital. Fortunately in this case friends and relatives have visited.”

Mr Ahmed also claimed: “Media focus on case has had a positive influence on the employer.

“You [photo-journ’s newsblog] stepped in an area UK govt cannot intervene”, adding “employment and other commercial contracts are not areas where we can intervene. We can raise systemic problems which we do”.

In reply to a later tweet complimenting him on responding to critics of his previous comments and for adding “a human response from our Governments”, Mr Ahmad replied: “People will disagree with Govt. Public & media right to campaign for more”.

However, according to Mr Ahmad, the “UK US AUS have similar consular practice”.

Australian government consular assistance protocols for citizens in distress

A hypothetical scenario was posed to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra (DFAT) as follows:

An Australian citizen is employed legally abroad and has deductions for that country’s compulsory social welfare scheme deducted from his salary but the employer does not remit this to the social welfare fund.

The employer becomes seriously ill but is not covered for free hospital care because the employer failed to make compulsory payments. The family make payments, but run out of money and move the patient to a cheaper hospital.

The local embassy is advised their foreign citizen is extremely ill and receiving a questionable standard of medical care.

1. Would Australian embassy officials raise the employment protection rights of Australian workers with the foreign government?

2. Approximately how long after being notified that an Australian citizen is in distress would local consular staff organize a face-to-face meeting to investigate for themselves

3. Would a telephone call to the sick citizen be considered adequate consular assistance – especially if repeated alerts were being provided that the citizen was gravely ill and deteriorating?

4. If this Australian citizen was going to be evicted from a hospital due to lack of insurance coverage that should have been provided by the employer, how would embassy staff react? (See here for the Australian DFAT consular assistance protocols for Australian citizens in distress.

Disgusted at lack of action by British Embassy Bangkok

Mr Davies said it is “disgusting that after having been notified of Gareth’s worsening situation the British Embassy Bangkok took an ‘as little effort as possible approach’, while people such as Bangkok businesswoman Patrachit Chotikapanich,  junior, mid-level and senior Thai government employees, and others who didn’t even know Gareth, including photo-journ’s newsblog, put more effort into helping him than his own government.

Mr Asif Ahmad's responses to Photo-journ's newsblog regarding Mr Davies' plight on March 23, 2012
Mr Asif Ahmad’s responses to Photo-journ’s newsblog regarding Mr Davies’ plight on March 23, 2012

“We’ve got an English teacher employed at Kasem Bundit University not covered by compulsory Thailand insurance, comments from a doctor at Rajavithi Hospital that Gareth arrived very malnourished, reports he wasn’t being bathed, was left in a toilet for more than three hours on the floor after a fall, and in 18 days no one from the British Embassy Bangkok is able to go look in on him?

“Where’s the value to the British public of this embassy? How many other English language teachers are there out there without proper cover? Or how many other Brits are there around the world in a really dire situation through no fault of their own that are all but ignored by our diplomats?

“How does Kasem Bundit University or the Thailand Government expect to attract quality English teachers when their rights are abused like this?”, Mr Davies asked.

 

Footnote: Mr Michael Davies wishes to express his sincerest thanks to the numerous Thai people, many of whom did not know Gareth, for their tireless efforts in attempting to help him.

 

 

Feature photo John Le Fevre

 

 

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John Le Fevre is an Australian national with more than 40 years experience as a journalist, photographer, videographer and editor.

He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.

He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.

In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.

Most recently he was the Thailand editor/ managing editor of AEC News Today . Prior to that he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.

In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.

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

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7 Responses to "Call for inquiry into death & treatment of Kasem Bundit University English teacher Gareth Davies by British Embassy Bangkok & employer"

  1. TERENCERICHARD   July 1, 2012 at 10:30 am

    WELL LIFE IS CHEAP IN THAILAND MONEY COMES BEFORE LIFE CAN NOT SAY TOMUCH AS YOU KNOW !!

    Reply
  2. Andrew Parker   March 31, 2012 at 10:39 am

    This is appalling! British citizens (I am not one) put, and keep, the pressure on to get something done about this………you could be next! Thank-you John Le Fevre!

    Reply
  3. Octave   March 27, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    The Australian embassy and the embassies of most countries around the world are there foremost to protect their citizens. Of course this is not the case for British subjects.

    You only need to look at the opulent designs and size of UK embassies around the world to see that a significant amount of tax payers money is invested there, with the interest of giving the UK a good image and promoting business in the area.

    With such investment in overseas Embassies and Consuls – Why then, are many of the UK Visa processing services internationally now shut down? Applying for a replacement British passport in Australia has to go via New Zealand AND Hong Kong and can take up to SIX WEEKS! Why can sick British people in hospital not expect at least moral support from the Embassy? A British man, university teacher STARVED TO DEATH in a Bangkok hospital – are you kidding me?

    Visa processing can be run from a small office, printing and producing passports – hardly an expensive operation and does not need the prime real estate of an Embassy or Consulate. Even sending express to and from London.. it is hard to imagine why they could not be processed in two weeks. British people applying for British passports when they are overseas need them URGENTLY. British people have to pay up to 300 pounds to get a British passport and up to six weeks! Sending an Embassy official to a hospital to offer moral support, raise awareness is not an expensive thing to do. Why are they “not allowed to intervene”? when other countries clearly are. Could it be that they are simply to lazy and really don’t care?

    Thai consulates in other countries are often runfrom a small office somewhere which provides efficient visa services by post – often taking just a few days.

    Why then can the UK afford opulent embassies around the world, but they cant afford to offer reliable support for Visas, Passports and support for citizens in distress?

    Britain is run by a corrupt elite who are only interesting in the interests of business. Big inefficient financial industries that dont employ many people, industries that could otherwise not survive without the continued support of tax payer (as we have seen recently). For the past 30 years intelligent and talented people who are not part of the criminal elite have been leaving – to seek better opportunities overseas. Those emigrating should try to get foreign citizenship as soon as possible because the British Embassy in most cases will offer no assistance to you overseas.

    Australians in similar situations will be offered a much higher level of support and service and the government, press and Australian people will DEMAND fair treatment for Australians regardless of possibly causing any embarrassment, inconvenience or trade complications.

    Britain is broken. Britain doesnt care about you. If you do emigrate from the UK – and you get citizenship in another country, consider terminating your British citizenship which will end your obligation to fight for, defend, or save her in times of war. And theres a war coming.

    The Amabassador said that part of his role is not to deal with individual cases but to deal with systemic problems. Well the fact they arent allowed to deal with individual cases means that the system has a problem. This is double-talk and nonsense. I hope Mr Davies family are told why the systemic problems have failed them.

    Reply
  4. Bangkokteacher   March 27, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    My sympathies to the family of Mr Davies. Thai employers deducting money for welfare cover and not actually paying it is not an unusual situation in Thailand.

    Mr Le Fevre you’ve taken a big risk tackling Kasem Bundit so publicly. I’m sure you are aware that people get killed in Thailand for doing less. Look after your own safety. As we see here, life is cheap in Thailand.

    I am amused that our ambassador says the media can step in to an area that the British Government can not. If this is the case why are there so many people at the Bangkok embassy receiving fat salaries — is it to match their fat bums?

    I agree with the Grant. After reading this I am ashamed to be English.

    Reply
  5. Grant   March 27, 2012 at 7:08 pm

    I am ashamed to be English. As Mick said here the embassy has done an absolutely crap job in looking after a British subject. Are our foreign embassies only there to represent businesses and not us normal people? RIP Gareth Davies. I hope heads will roll over this but it is obvious it will not be a result of anything the UK government does for you

    Reply
  6. ThailandTim   March 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    I worked with Garth before he joined Kasem Bundit. He was a gentleman and dedicated teacher. I’m appalled at his life ending in this manner.

    Ambassador Asif you should be ashamed of yourself and your staff. I don’t know people like you. If Garth was an animal being treated this way it would be major news, let YOU, Mr Asif, left him to the mercies of the Thai system. You, Mr Asif, ignored his please for help. You Mr Asif had the power and connections to make sure he was looked after and protected yet you stood back and relegated that task to a journalist (no offence meant to the journalist).

    The Foreign Office should drag you back to London and assign you somewhere where you are not in a position to ignore the dying pleadings of a British subject again.

    Reply
  7. Ryan McDougal   March 27, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I’ve been following this story for the past few days.
    My sincerest condolences to the family of Gareth.
    My most vile criticism and contempt for the British Embassy Bangkok staff and ambassador Asif in failing to get off their fat arses and do more than dial a telephone. Is this the service we pay our taxes for? The entire Bangkok British Embassy should be ashamed and sent back to the UK.
    Finally, my admiration for this John Le Fevre in breaking this story and pursuing it with so much vigor. This IS real journalism and what I believe journalists should be doing, not hacking peoples telephones.

    Ryan

    Reply

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