Is it wise for a foreign teacher to complain in Thailand?

Is it wise for a foreign teacher to complain in Thailand?

I work full-time at a university in Phitsanulok, Northern Thailand. From time to time, when needed, other establishments of higher learning such as smaller affiliated universities, contact English teachers of my university to enquire about their availability to teach a few hours in theirs on an hourly rate.

About a year ago, I was contacted by the Head Monk of the Foreign Languages department of such an affiliated university, to teach 6 periods on extra pay. I discussed the days, times and the rates of pay and agreed to take up the offer. The following Wednesday I went along to the university. I was told that I would be teaching 3 periods on Saturday mornings and another 3 on Wednesday morning.

The Head Monk’s Assistant was a layman in his early thirties, who I gathered was an ex-monk. He took my certificate copies, documents and photos and then said that no register was available for me to sign that day but would have one ready next time. He then took me to my class room in an adjacent block. On the Saturday after, I went along to the office to sign the register, which I hoped would be available. There was no one to be seen for about 15 minutes. Just then the assistant turned up and apologized for being late and then asked me to go to Room 203 in the next block. I went, but could see no sign of this room anywhere in the block, so I came back to see the assistant. By now I was perspiring profusely and had my neck-tie hanging loosely on my neck.

The assistant apologized and said that he meant the third block and agreed to take me there. As we had to go upstairs I asked the assistant whether I should take off my shoes. His answer was: ‘of course you should, you should know’. Then seeing that I was sweating so much and my face full of exasperation, he said ‘you are not happy here are you? If you don’t like to work here you need to tell me’. I said that it was none of that, but that I was tired and hot trying to find the class room.

After the lesson I phoned up the Head Monk and related to him what happened and pointed out that the assistant was speaking somewhat out-of-order to a person who was doing nothing wrong. I apologized for taking up the Head Monk’s time and asked if I could see him the next day at 4 p.m. He agreed.

When I saw the Head Monk as agreed, he sat me down courteously and apologized for what happened and the rather chaotic state of affairs. He said that he was to blame for not getting things in an orderly state. I said that I accept that these can happen anywhere and I thought nothing of it. The Monk then handed me an envelope with some money in it and said: ‘thank you sir for your understanding’. Seeing that I look puzzled he went on to say ‘last evening the six member Directorial Panel discussed what happened and decided that they should clear the bad air between two people for the sake of the university and have decided to terminate my employment’

Recovering from my shock and dismay, I replied in the following manner: ‘you have taken a decision against and to the detriment of the complainant and in his absence but with the participation of the offender/accused. Altogether you had 7 Thai men making a judgment against a foreigner, whose voice was never heard. I too am a practicing Buddhist but am appalled at the abysmal standard of procedure, conduct and justice of a Buddhist Institution of this stature – finding someone guilty of complaining about unfairness’.

Siri Herath


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