The owners of a Phnom Penh private school have split up accusing each other of
mismanagement, handed the whole operation to another school, and left 20
teachers owed $16,000 and many out of work.
The transfer has been
achieved with a signed seven-point legal contract, but the teachers have
petitioned the Social Affairs Ministry to recover what is owed to them in wage
From Tuesday this week the Asia Pacific Institute (API) at 189
Mao Tse Tung Blvd has merged with Beltie International Institute (BII) of 77 St
215. BII has assumed responsibility for all API's debts (totalling $6179),
accounts payable and teacher wages since May 1.
API was opened in 2001 by
Nay Vanda and Stephen Louw (from South Africa) as directors, and additional
shareholding from an un-named Singaporean investor.
On May 17, more than
20 Cambodian and foreign teachers at API filed a petition to the Ministry of
Social Affairs work inspection office at Chamkar Morn district after not getting
paid for almost two months. Some had already resigned to find paid work.
A former director of studies at API, Troy Billsborrow (one of those owed
two months pay), said problems arose between the shareholders over school
management issues. It seemed that the Cambodian director was the real power in
"I don't have a lot of hope of getting the money; he lied to
everybody all the time," said Billsborrow. "My feeling now about Cambodia is not
so good; foreigners are scared of Cambodian partners."
the Western teachers are owed roughly $1,000 each and Khmer teachers from $500
to $600 each. Many had decided to cut their losses and move on before Khmer New
Another Western teacher (who did not wish to be named) said: "We
have no choice; we did not want to leave the school but we cannot work for
nothing. I do not expect to get the $1,100 I am owed. The school has money to
pay for advertisements on TV, but it has no money to pay its teachers."
He said the Khmer teachers were much worse off than foreigners because
some of them were still looking for jobs after they had left the
Vanda blamed the former Singaporean shareholder director who he
said had wasted money and departed in April.
"They had a spending spree
and ran away. I also want my money back. They cheat all of us. If the teachers
can stand to wait a little longer, they will get a good solution."
said the teachers came to ask him every day for their money. "I cannot find the
money immediately, but now the school has arranged to solve the problem for
them. It will take about one month more to do it."
Meng Sreng Yong, a
former teacher at API said: "He [Vanda] has money but he won't give it to the
teachers. He likes threatening people too." He said the school owed him about
Suy Chun Hak, Vanda's lawyer, said the school had some problems
with the Singaporean shareholder, and now the school had organized to solve the
situation for teachers and staff.
"Filing a petition was the last choice
for us, we are the victims," said teacher Chum Chandarin, who left in late
Ath Hieng, director of the work inspection office at Chamkar Morn
district, said he had received the petition from the teachers and he had invited
the school director, Vanda, to see him.
"The problem could be solved if
the director and teachers had a better understanding of each other's situation.
But, however, he is trying to have it tidied up in two weeks."
agreement to transfer API's assets, license and debts to BII was signed by Vanda
and Louw (who also represented the un-named Singaporean), and Ly Chheng
(director of BII),
In the contract Chheng agrees to provide English
education, including specified degrees, to all students who had registered in
API, as per API's standard program.
In the case of long term fees paid by
students who contest BII's ability to follow API's standard progam, and request
refunds, Vanda and Louw will negotiate with them.