A FORMER UNTAC employee, injured on the job and now brain
damaged and suicidal, has racked up more than $50,000 in
medical bills after the UN suddenly ceased payment to the
hospital where he is confined.
On Sept 4, 1993, interpreter Lok Mapoly suffered serious
head injuries in a car accident while on business in
Banlung district, Ratanakiri with UNTAC the foreign
peacekeeping operation that ran Cambodia's 1993
He was sent to Thailand for a brain operation and was
eventually placed in the Visal Sok clinic in Phnom Penh.
The clinic has a letter from the UN saying it would
guarantee payment, but in 1996 the money stop-ped,
apparently caught up in bureaucracy.
Meanwhile, Mapoly is now paralyzed down one side,
incontinent and can only say a few words.
The hospital is still caring for him and carrying the UN
debt because its owner is too worried about Mapoly
to make him leave.
When the Post visited Mapoly in his hospital room he was
sitting on his bed playing with his own feces.
The clinic's owner, Dr Chea Sam An, said that Mapoly was
prone to fits of rage and he would destroy anything he
"Our big worry is about his life," Sam An said.
"He has tried to commit suicide several times but
our staff prevented him. Before he couldn't think but now
that he can, he's angry and bored about his life and he
wants to die. Some days he'll break his bed, mosquito
netting, TV, wall decorations."
In his room wallpaper had been torn down, he had even
smashed the plaster work in some places exposing the
bricks. The cover of his mattress was torn as were the
curtains in the room.
But there was no sign of the rage during the Post visit.
Instead there seemed to be genuine delight that he would
have his photo taken.
He carefully draped a sarong round his waist, smoothed it
down and tried to strike a pose for the photographer.
When the photos were taken he held up his one good hand
and said "two" meaning he wanted two more
photographs taken. He then returned to his previous
Sam An said at one stage Mapoly progressed to the extent
that he was able to count aloud. But then he tried to
commit suicide by stabbing and hanging himself. A nurse
is on 24-hour watch. His room is locked because he is
prone to destroy hospital property.
According to Sam An, Mapoly is an orphan who has had only
a single visit from a relative since his return from
Thailand in 1994.
"I just want to hear some news from the UN on what I
can do for him," Sam An says. "I worry about
how he will live if he is outside the clinic. Who will
take care and feed him?"
In the meantime, Mapoly has a $51,120 bill up till July
and Sam An has had no success in penetrating the UN for
This is despite the clinic having a letter from Johannes
Wortel, Director of Administration for UNTAC, dated
February 14, 1994, saying: "UNTAC agrees to the
terms for Mr Lok's future care as understood from the
attached form received by Mr. Paul Emerson, Senior
Administrative Officer, UNTAC, from the staff of the
Polyclinique. In summary, the daily cost is US $60 (sixty
US dollars) covering room, food, medical and nursing care
including therapy. It is understood that medication and
doctor fees would add between US $10 and US $20. Such
additional fees will be fully substantiated by copies of
doctors orders and pharmacy /dispensary delivery notes.
"Your account should be submitted according to your
billing procedure to the Chief Finance Officer, UNTAC HQ,
Cambodiana Hotel Business Center, Phnom Penh. Payment
will be made by cheque to the Polyclinique Visal
Sam An said that the method of payment was via the UNTAC
office at the Cambodiana until Nov 1994, when the
financial procedure was transferred to the UNDP's Phnom
A UNDP officer, who asked not be named, confirmed that
monthly payments had been made to the clinic for Mapoly's
care through to March 1996. He does not know why payments
ceased after that, explaining that his office served only
as a conduit for funds from UN headquarters in New York.
Yan Chamroeun, Finance Chief of the Visal Sok clinic,
said he dispatched medical reports on Mapoly every month
to the UNDP in Phnom Penh, which would then fax them to
New York. When payments stopped, Chamroeun informed the
UNDP, which faxed New York but received no answer.
Chamroen said that in Sept 1995, Mapoly collected his
belongings and moved to the reception area to wait for
the arrival of an UNTAC doctor who had promised to take
him to France for treatment.
Chamroen remembers the UNTAC doctor because he often
visited the clinic, but he cannot recall his name. When
the doctor did not appear, Mapoly flew into a rage and
broke the television set in the reception area.
Chamroen has gone to the office of Lakhan Mehrotra, the
UN Secretary General's representative, but the secretary
there told him that the office was not in charge of a
case like Mapoly's, but of only that of political
At the end of August, Sam An wrote a letter to a friend
in United States to contact the UN's New York
headquarters on his behalf, but he has yet to receive a
"I want to ask the UNCHR to help [Mapoly],"
said Sam An. "Or the UN to find a center to take
care of him."