Beware of the LILT program of this university. They are hiring, and then dismissing new employees for no reasons. Out of the 8 employees, four have been fired without even the program taking off. Check out this internal email from the person, a very highly educated Australian gentleman, who was employed as the boss of the program, and then fired for NO reasons. BEWARE! They will hire you first and then fire you for god knows what reasons.
I went to meet Brad Cooper and Nadia (refused to provide her last name) this afternoon who identified themselves at the Steering Committee at UP. Yes, those two are it according to Brad. I thought I was meeting them to arrange an advance on my pay. Instead they said my contract was terminated immediately because the following video I posted on YouTube 2+ years ago was "culturally insensitive" (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CKeEc82eTU). Note, I haven't consumed alcohol for 18 months now. My superiors at the University Of Technology Brunei OK'd the video at the time and no-one else has ever commented on it. I have no idea what the real reason behind this UP betrayal is or how to survive this calamity. What am I gonna tell my wife and family?
Regarding the unexpected and unwarranted cancellation of my University of Puthisatra (UP) employment contract (EC) as Senior Lecturer for the Literacy in Language and Thinking (LILT) program, it is my opinion that you deserve to know the facts (even as they come in): The person I am actually to directly report to according to my Employment Contract (EC), Sue Guiney - the founding director of "Writing Through"and "LILT" - has not yet returned any of my attempts to contact her, and she (as far as I know) remains your immediate boss as well as mine. If anything like what has happened to me were to happen to you during your employment by UP, Sue is the person who you should be communicating with, not some never-before-mentioned UP Steering Committee. I doubt, however, if she had anything to do with the UP's decision to sack me: Sue and I were developing a very productive working relationship, albeit via online means such as Skype, Facebook and email, especially with regard to organising an itinerary for the LILT 3 Week Orientation Program and subsequent 4 week Training Program, which she asked me to work on before the commencement date of my paid employment on 18 September 2017. We were making great progress and were both very excited about the program. If Sue had any doubts whatsoever about me they have never been mentioned. She is possibly as shocked by the UP decision as I am.
You see, the decision to sack me was conveyed to me verbally at approximately 2.20 pm on Monday 2 September 2017 afternoon by a dirtily dressed Mr Brad Gordon, who'd I'd never seen or heard of before, after he lured me to the Steering Committee office with a phone call the day before, promising to look into helping me with a small advance on my pay. Needless, to say, there has been no assistance on offer from UP with regard to my financial crisis since Brad's phone call requesting the appointment - and my financial tribulations will continue until my ATM card (successfully retrieved from the Cambodian bank ATM that swallowed it) is unblocked by the Australian bank authorities. Meanwhile, I can pay several of my bills with PayPal but I don't have enough cash to buy food. Mr Thomas Herbaut, Head of UP Finance, denied my request for an advance on my pay - a decision which I respected. But Sue Guiney said she would talk to UP Management and see what could be done,promising that something would be worked out. I don't know what she said to management, but the next thing I know I'm being called in for a Monday meeting with Brad Gordon, a phone call in which Mr Gordon confirmed the purpose of the meeting was to discuss a small cash advance on my pay.
I arrived on time for our 2 pm meeting and as was previously mentioned,I was dressed in clean business attire, but without a tie. After 15 minutes, Brad came down to collect me from where I was waiting near the Information Office and showed me the way to his office on the 2nd Floor of E Block. I remained calm, softly spoken and composed throughout the entire meeting, despite how shocked I soon became. Brad Gordon was accompanied by a lady dressed all in black who would only identify herself as "Nadia" when I politely asked her who she was. She looked as if she were on her way to a social function due to the evening attire she wore and seemed anxious for the meeting to finish. Nadia made almost no verbal input to the meeting other than saying "Hello, Dr Starrs". There was no-one else present at this meting, not even any Khmer staff. When I recovered from the shock of being told I had been sacked, I asked where was the rest of the committee responsible for the decision. Mr Gordon said "We're it." I innocently rejoined "Just you two?" To which Mr Gordon sneered with plain contempt for me and said, "Interesting!" and then immediately proceeded to order me off the UP premises.
I did not and still can not accept Mr Gordon's unsupported accusation that a 3.09 minute video I posted 2+ years ago on YouTube was "culturally insensitive" (as he states is the opinion of the entire UP Steering Committee) and that was the reason for cancelling my employment contract. But that was absolutely all he would say about the UP's motive/s.To view a copy of this very non-controversial video (which was made for my audio-visual production students to learn from at the Universiti Teknologi Brunei and was never professionally finished anyway) see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CKeEc82eTU&t=6s
As I'm sure you'll agree after watching it, this video is meant to be a little amusing whilst addressing the law regarding a topic not many ex-pats in Brunei actually know about. Brunei is a Muslim country run according to Sharia Law and the 66% majority Islamic people do not permit the sale or purchase of alcoholic beverages anywhere in Brunei. There are no bottle shops, no pubs, no night clubs and no wine list comes with your restaurant meal in Bandar Seri Begawan (the capital of Brunei where I lived for two years and where my wife still lives and works). But my video entitled "How to bring alcohol in Brunei - Legally" (featuring me as the actor, writer, director and camera person - hence the low quality of the piece in some technical respects - has nothing to do with Cambodians or Cambodian government, promotes no illegal activity and as a teacher, you can probably understand why its use was approved by my superiors because,in my role as Senior Lecturer in Cinema at the University Teknologi Brunei, I wanted to use it in one of my group tutorials (we were studying the psychological effect of speeding up vs. slowing down the picture on audiences, and this technique is featured in the allegedly "culturally insensitive" video).
The video was well-liked by my Bruneian superiors. I was even asked by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs if I could make more introductory videos for newcomers to Brunei, but I declined until I was finished delivering the semester's scheduled lecture, tutorials and exams. I then started work on a video about Sharia Law and how it affects Non-Muslims in Brunei (Note, this video is still in production as the final stage of Sharia Law has yet to be implemented in Brunei). I don't know how Mr Gordon and/or Nadia or the rest of the UP Steering Committee (if there is anyone else on that Committee) cannot understand that it was an approved university training video and is not culturally insensitive to any country, ethnicity or culture whatsoever. In fact, I was appointed a judge for a national "I Love Brunei" video competition and had three refereed journal articles about Bruneian cinematic and literary culture published. I even have a chapter on the same topic due to come out in an edited book published by the National University of Malaysia and Brill Publishing in late 2017. No-one has ever levelled a claim like that of Mr Gordon's "cultural insensitivity" at any of my work in my long career of international research; writing journal articles; books; book chapters; letters to the editors of newspapers; or in any of my published creative writing (which consists of four novels, and several award-winning short stories and stage plays).
In case you have never seen Mr Gordon in the flesh, and wish to avoid him, in my opinion he is a young to middle-aged (my guess is 35-45), almost paunchy, foreign man boasting no more than small to average, un-athletic build, with a pale, white complexion and fair hair. I look quite unlike Mr Gordon (being of Aboriginal Australian descent I have darker skin, and am often therefore classed as a "Blackfella" by the Australian general public, government, universities, censuses, Aboriginal Medical and Legal Services and the Australian police, although I have no criminal record at all). I also differ in appearance to Mr Gordon since I have competed frequently in natural (i.e.drug-tested) bodybuilding competitions ever since I won my first bodybuilding title in 1983, and I retired from playing the full-contact sport of rugby (at which I had represented the state of NSW in schoolboys rugby when I won second place in my class in the Natural Mr Australia in 1986. In my last bodybuilding contest I just missed out on making the finalists in the Over 50 years Amateur Mr Universe held in Cebu, Philippines in October 2015. I bring these points up because I suspect Mr Gordon was not only intimidated by my education (I have six university degrees including two Masters and a PhD) but may have also found me physically intimidating - although I did or said nothing to make him fear for his physical safety. Nevertheless, he had the Security Guards ready and waiting before he even met me.
Furthermore, I believe Mr Gordon's decision to cancel my employment contract is racially motivated.
I have documented evidence of my Aboriginality (my family tree, written acceptance by my Local Registered Council of Tribal Elders and I have worked in two Aboriginal Only Identified lecturing positions at Australian Universities). Whereas when I taught English in China and Thailand my students and fellow staff simply call me 'white" as does my beautiful Filipina wife of 3.5 years, Melissa (who is soon to finish her employment contract at "Fitness Zone", the premiere health, weight loss and bodybuilding chain of gyms in Brunei, and has already booked her tickets for a visit to Cambodia to celebrate my birthday in October).Once they are told,however, most people in Australia class me as a "Blackfella" and I have often advocated for Aboriginal Land Reform in Australia's print and online media. I have had refereed publications published on the matter (i.e. peer-reviewed academic journal articles about the struggle for Aboriginal Australian sovereignty), and I have a respectable H-Index for international research of 5, which means five or more of my papers or books have each been cited by at least five or more other refereed papers or books.
Note, only 2.5 - 3% of the population of Australia is identified as Indigenous, yet even in the early 1980s when I had a minor administrative role for the Commonwealth government in my home town of Canberra, never, ever did I receive criticism for expressing what some people consider anti-government opinions regarding Aboriginal Land Rights in the media. Indeed, the movement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people to be properly recompensed for the mineral wealth stolen from land they have lived upon for millions of years people is growing even stronger. The struggle to restore land rights to we, the Indigenous inhabitants from the thieving British, is an aspect of my international research reputation which I'm sure Mr Gordon is well aware of, after the quickest of Google Scholar searches.
And, of interest to the very "white" lawyer Mr Gordon I'm sure, is that the Judge of Australia and Britain's "High Court of Australia" ruled for once and for all in 1993 that the initial invasion of Australia by Britain was illegal and that the continent was not "Terra Nullius" (a land with no people) as Aboriginal people have lived on this land for aeons (many scientists say now that having been on this giant land mass formerly known as The Great Southern Land for as long as 60- 80 million years, the culture of we Aboriginal Australians is the oldest ongoing culture anywhere on Earth and that we Aboriginal Australians are the ancestors of everyone living on earth today, and not Africa as was previously believed). Mr Gordon is probably aware that there has never been a treaty or surrender and many commentators consider Indigenous Australia to still be at war with the the invading representatives of the Queen of England (i.e. the Australian government, as overseen by the Queen of England's appointment of Governor General, who in 1975, sacked Australia's legally elected and very popular Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam). Many and loud are the calls for Australia to become a republic, as the British Monarchy benefits Australia in so few ways anymore.
Perhaps, Mr Brad Gordon, having surely perused at least the titles and/or abstracts of some of my more than 90 academic and creative writing publications - several of which have to do with the ongoing struggle for Aboriginal Australians to gain legal Sovereignty from the illegally invading British - acknowledges me as an Aboriginal Australian but is not a supporter of my arguments backing Aboriginal Australians in winning their due land rights, for lawyers representing Britain and her government's illegal encouragement of Australia's mining boom industries to the Indigenous people whose lands they've pillaged, will need their clients to pay billions in recompense which may eventually wreck Australia's apartheid mining-resource based economy. Besides, many British still view Australia as a British colony. Perhaps Mr Gordon decided to sack me because as an articulate Aboriginal Australian novelist, playwright and academic, I represent a threat to British and other colonially-exploitative economies such as Mr Gordon's homeland of the USA.
Perhaps, Mr Brad Gordon decided to sack me because I am Aboriginal Australian and he is an incorrigible racist who possibly even has investments in the many corporate attempts by mining companies in Australia to ignore and over-ride Aboriginal Land Rights ... I don't know if he has any dealings or business interests in Australia, but he definitely said something to me that immediately classes him as a racist,wherever he is located.
Perhaps Mr Brad Gordon simply consider Aboriginal Australians to be sub-human - as was indicated when I heard Mr Gordon say to me in his typically soft, non-carrying voice: "You dirty Abo!" (The term "Abo" is a deeply offensive insult as unacceptable to Aboriginal Australians as the term "Nigger" is to African Americans). So, unless this cancellation of my contract is reversed by non-racist (i.e."culturally sensitive") and smarter minds than Mr Gordon prevail (as i'm sure will be the case, if only because people such as yourselves see the injustices committed against me and insist on my re-appointment, lest the same happen to you), I intend to take legal action against UP for dishonouring my EC.
Yes, Mr Brad Gordon proved himself to be a "culturally insensitive" racist when he called me a "dirty Abo", although he deliverered his nasty racist comments in a very soft, low volume voice.
Mr Gordon, I suspect, is perfectly aware of how "culturally insensitive" it is to call Aboriginal Australians such as myself "dirty Abos" and was possibly aware of the need in his own career to avoid any audio recording of such vile racist rants. Hidden audio recording devices would have to be very well positioned indeed if they were to have caught Mr Gordon's quiet voice calling me "dirty Abo"or threatening me with the following words:
"Sign this confidentiality agreement and you'll get a week's pay? No? Then you'll get nothing!", followed almost immediately by a gruff:
"If you don't get out immediately I will have security throw you out!".
Now, I'm 55 years old on 6 October 2017 (yes, a month from tomorrow) and although apart from some chronic injuries to my right leg and back, I'm as fit and healthy as when I was 30 and winning natural [i.e. drug-tested bodybuilding competitions]) I nevertheless do not like the idea of being physically thrown out of a second floor office. I hate to think what Mt Gordon would threaten to do to our most elderly LILT lecturer, who I believe is over 70 ... It saddens me how little respect academics get these days from non-academic university administrative staff.
In addition to his opening statement that the Standing Committee had sacked me, the following accusation about the video I made about Brunei's alcohol laws, his offer of a week's pay for signing to keep confidentiality (which, obviously, I have not signed) and his threat to have me "thrown out" by UP Security Guards, Mr Gordon's only other words were: "Take his phone!" to his security staff when he saw me audio-video recording him and Nadia (who had just returned to the room after several minutes on the office's balcony - Perhaps she was checking via her phone that security was on its way. She could not have heard any of either mine or Gordon's conversation from her distance so her court testimony if presented will be questionable.
Most disturbingly and despite my sincere pleas, Mr Gordon steadfastly refused to answer my repeated question: "Why are you really doing this? What have I done wrong?" only repeating that my YouTube video was "culturally insensitive". When he ordered a security guard to take my phone, I decided to keep my expensive investment in Cambodian telecommunications and leave the UP campus, which I did, prompting no further comment or action from any UP staff.
The only followup I have had from UP since Monday's meeting is the emailed cancellation of contract notice I received yesterday late afternoon. I've already sent you copies of this notice which stipulates no regulations or bylaws that give the Steering Committee the power to cancel a contract of a an employee without notice (not even one who has been found to have misrepresented her/himself in any way regarding information provided in the job application, CV, qualifications and/or interview) or refuse to refund the visa expenses I was instructed to incur by UP HR, nor does it make any mention of the allegedly "culturally insensitive" video I put on YouTube more than two years ago or any other reason for cancelling my contract. The email from the Steering Committee is signed only "Management, University of Puthisastra" and it gives no indication of being officially sanctioned. They couldn't even be bothered putting Brad or Nadia's name to it, nor signing, dating it, nor even putting it on UP letterhead. How can I be sure it's even authentic?
I still can't believe an innocuous how-to video about legally bringing alcohol into another country has any bearing on my role as Senior Lecturer administrating LILT at UP. I beg of you, any information you hear, be it rumour or fact about any other reason UP might have to longer want me as Senior Lecturer in LILT, please pas it on to me. It will be gladly received and if you have been instructed not to communicate with me by UP, can be sent anonymously to me. I am totally at a loss as to why my contract has really been cancelled, especially when I was working so hard on making LILT a success. It was and is after all, my Dream Job!
Word also is that Mr Brad Gordon is the top lawyer in Cambodia, and that no other lawyer is likely to take him on, despite, in my opinion, how obviously my contract has been breached and dishonoured. If you can recommend a lawyer un-awed by Mr Gordon's reputation please also let me know ASAP ... Or I will take steps to represent myself against Mr Gordon and UP in court. Until I get a judge's ruling, I am assuming that the Cancellation of my Contract is not valid and I will continue working on developing a fantastic Orientation and Training period for you all.
Unfortunately,I don't know what UP intends to do with the LILT program and you Lecturers employed to deliver it. I sincerely hope, that by the 18th of September my Employment Contract and yours are in full effect and we can all enjoy some of the fascinating guests and off-campus excursions I have booked for us, as per Sue Guiney' requests ever since I was appointed an employee of UP on 22nd of August,