Hidden Agendas in Indonesia?

The case of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong, detained in Indonesia for allegedly sexually assaulting a child at the prestigious Jakarta International School, continues to draw world-wide scrutiny. The two men, both educators, have been imprisoned now for more than three weeks with no charges levied. Under Indonesian law they can be detained for up to 60 days while police carry on an investigation. To date, however, no evidence has been released incriminating the two men and the following video makes one sincerely question the motives behind the investigation.


School lawyers report they now have a witness who says that, with the help of the police, the mother who accused the teachers met with a school cleaner who was originally charged with the crime and in custody. It is alleged she promised he would be released if he was prepared to say that JIS teachers were involved as the perpetrators of sodomy. She is also asking for $125 million in damages from the school.

Just prior to the detention of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong, twenty Western teachers from Jakarta International School were deported for small discrepancies in their work visas (some teachers in the elementary division had visas designated for middle school). This followed the investigation of the cleaning staff by authorities. We question why a simple grammatical correction would not have sufficed? Furthermore, the Education and Culture Ministry decreed that the term “international” is to be removed from the names of all international schools in Indonesia, and the word “international” is not be used in school programs, literature, or educational material. In a similar vein, the Education and Culture Ministry has banned the teaching of English language to elementary school children.

Is Indonesia trying to dissuade Western educators and businesses?  If so, they may well be achieving their goal at the expense of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong and JIS. If the good name of Jakarta International School were to be tarnished by means of such accusations of sexual improprieties, embassies and large International companies in Jakarta may find it difficult to attract Western employees with children, as well as employees from other countries.

Jakarta International School  has been transparent and supportive of their teachers throughout this ordeal.  School’s Statements

Certainly ISR is not in a position to determine the guilt or innocence of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong.  In accord with the position of embassies and other agencies, we believe these two men are being held without cause and encourage you to sign the petition in support of the release of Neil Bantleman and Ferdinant Tjiong: Sign the Petition

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15 thoughts on “Hidden Agendas in Indonesia?

  1. It’s really sad how much lack of professionalism there can be towards teachers their trust is indeed lacking in society today when parents, society, government and media take no responsibility for morals of todays society. Teachers are so under valued and blamed for parenting. When teachers are the ones holding up society when no one else is.


  2. When i first started working in Developing Countries, i remember being upset over small things that I was used to at home, that seemed all wrong in these places. Then these things became larger and larger…everyone knows that when you accept a job in these places, anything…ANYTHING….can happen to you. We all know it. It has happened to me…knifepoint robberies in the middle of the night with my children held hostage. Robbed on the street and even tho I was screaming, people just walked on like nothing was happening.

    A friend accused of child abuse on Italy, confined to a house for a year, with their passport taken by the police. Then in the middle of the night, the police arrived and said pack your bags, you are leaving. Put on a flight to the USA. He had offended a parent, who was a judge, who then accused him of child abuse….everyone knew it was a set up, but it was a judge. It took Embassy involvement to get this poor man and his wife out of Italy, for god sakes.

    Then I was accused of child abuse…a local teacher had dislocated a child’s arm in the swimming pool, but I was held responsible, because he was in my class. This was in a country not too far from Indonesia.

    I went home, packed my bags, withdrew all my money and left. I didn’t say goodby to anyone, but I did ring my Embassy. I was given a number to ring day or night and told to get a ticket out – to anywhere, it didn’t matter and if I was stopped at the airport for any reason whatsoever, to phone them immediately.
    I got out….i have never been back to that country and never will.

    I had absolutely no problems getting another, very good job, with references from HODS, Counsellor, people from other schools…and in fact the job I went to was far better.

    But for those of you on holiday now, you should be packing and leaving. Walk away…as you can see by the shocking situation with Neil, no one, not even your own government can save you. You are on your own. If I had children, I wouldn’t even be going back to pack…keep walking. You all have family you can turn to.
    I have a house I will gladly offer to anyone who needs it.

    You are not safe and you need to leave. These people have no scruples, and you all know what I am saying is true.

    The families of these people should be at their Embassy doors, asking for asylum within. They are not safe.


  3. Link to school statement inexplicably not available, wondering if the school is getting pressure to rescind statement, buckling…yes, seems to be extortion, hope school stands up, stands firm. We as teachers need that backing or are doomed…


  4. I have worked with and know Neil Bantlemen. I previously worked at JIS for five years. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO WAY NEIL IS GUILTY OF ANYTHING! This is a clear case of extortion. Plain and simple. Disgusting and I encourage anyone thinking of traveling to anywhere in Indonesia to boycott that country until Neil and Ferdi are freed. They are hostages to a corrupt system. Very little has been reported in the press about the mothers making these charges and the time line detailing them changing their stories. I now also believe it is very suspect that anything happened to those boys even from the cleaning staff. A sad sad day.


  5. It is unbelievable that Indonesia gets away with this kind of behavior. I’ve lived in many different countries including Indonesia, and never fail to be amazed by what they get away with. I had several friends at jis. It was a good school where staff were looked after and treated fairly. However, there is an underlying strong anti western element in Jakarta at the moment. The comments left by members of the public in the Jakarta post regarding the attack by the cleaner demonstrated this clearly. Most blamed it on foreigners corrupting their country despite the fact that the cleaner was Indonesian!! I really hope that international pressure will force the Indonesian authorities to release them and conduct a fair and proper investigation.


  6. was considering a move to Jakarta next year from HK. Reading this certainly makes me think twice. Thanks ISR for bringing to our attention. Petition signed.


  7. This will be the McMartin Preschool case all over again, Indonesian style. That started the child abuse hysteria in the US in the 1980s and 90s, with a fervor akin to the Salem Witch Trials. I feel terribly sorry for Neil and Ferdinant, and fear this will drag on for years. They are in my prayers.


  8. Questions to ask:
    Who owns the land the school is on?
    What is the relationship between these owners and the parents making the accusation?
    What is the relationship between the compensation sought and the cost of similar real estate in Jakarta?

    When we enter the adventure that is international education we also engage with the way things are ‘done’ in the host country…. and we experience the dilemma of being ‘open minded’ vs being ‘principled’.


    1. Heard from the grapevine – an Indonesian conglomerate wants to buy the school – why suddenly the gargantuan amount is $125 million- think – it’s not the first time a sort of foreign company is sued – the interested party takes over! it’s happened many times in Indonesia I heard!

      A global citizen.


  9. What simultaneously incensed and saddened me is the question from the “journalist”: “Is there even a tiny part of you that thinks maybe this story could be true?”

    First of all, what kind of question is that to ask this woman? Honestly, what kind of answer did he hope to get? “Yes, I believe that my husband may be capable of this kind of behaviour”? Was he hoping the truth would be suddenly be illuminated? I’m surprised she handled it well as she did-I wouldn’t have. Cheap, transparent attempt at sensationalism; instead of attempting to be impartial the reporter cheap-shots the woman. I wonder if this reporter would have asked such a question if the accused were Australian? Contemptible.

    Secondly, the question is an ample demonstration of what the wife later mentioned-guilt by accusation. Even if the allegation is proven to be categorically false, in some people’s minds (like this reporter, as he question subtly betrayed it) he will be guilty merely by being accused-it’s one in the same. He will never be completely trusted again, and tragically his career may very well be over.


  10. I have taught at Jakarta International School. Everything about my tenure there was highly professional. Though inappropriate behavior can happen anywhere, it is very hard for me to believe, given the information I have read, that it happened as has been alleged. The fact that a gargantuan suit has been filed only helps to support the conclusion that someone is trying to squeeze money out of this situation. The legal system in Indonesia is very corrupt. The only hope for these two educators is the power of public opinion. I hope that many will weigh in on this, because it could happen to any of us. Leona Greenlaw


  11. The level of corruption in Indonesia as demonstrated by the detention of two innocent educators from JIS is unforgivable. Free Ferdi and Neil and realize that this extortion scheme on the part of a parent and the police has gone viral. Is this how Indonesia wants to be represented internationally?


  12. I wish you the very best of luck in your current situation. I have witnessed first-hand the utter brutality of a corrupt third-world system when influenced and manipulated by a wealthy host national. The level of stupidity and corruption is so high that the entire situation seems like a nightmare from which you will awake, but don’t. Fortunately we have the internet to call attention to these atrocities of justice and hopefully we can bring world pressure on these backwards lands and shame them into actin in a just manner.

    I’ve been to Indonesia. I got a ticket for stopping with my tire just inches into the crosswalk. If you’ve seen the chaos on the streets of Indonesia you would know this ticket is a scam by the police to make money. I was quickly taken to the police station and told I would be held until the “judge” came on Monday. I asked if they could figure out how much the judge would charge me and leave the money with them? They settled on $40 dollars. My encounter sums up the Indonesian legal system.

    I fear for the safety and future of the two men being held as they are really just pawns in a hidden agenda to destroy the reputation of JIS. Be sure to sign the petition.


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