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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The Gecko: 7 July, 2000

The Gecko: 7 July, 2000

 

American creativity is achieving new heights. In a country that invents new illnesses

faster than old ones are cured, medical researchers say they have identified a new

disease that may be the cause of a recent upsurge in mass random violence. Called

the "I-can't -take-it-any-more:

 

Just-let-me-talk-to-a-live-human-being Syndrome" (known as IctiamJlmttalhb

Syndrome for short), experts say the widespread use of recorded phone message systems

at the nation's large public and private institutions is having an adverse effect

on citizens, leaving them feeling frustrated and out of touch with their fellow humans.

"People can't find anyone to talk to anymore," said Dr Melvin Afterthebeep.

"They end up in a tangled web of taped recordings that don't respond to their

innermost needs for a sympathetic ear."

Afterthebeep said he is seeing a marked increase in the number of patients who are

afraid to use the phone as they fear all they'll get is a recording with numbered

options that only lead to more and more messages.

"People are frustrated and starting to panic," said Afterthebeep, "leading

to increased levels of anxiety and tendencies towards acts of violence."

"I don't want to sound alarmist, but we are on the verge of a national emergency."

One of Afterthebeep's patients being examined for IctiamJlmttalhb Syndrome, who declined

to be named, said "I'm so angry I could just scream.

"Last week I shot up my phone but that didn't seem to help. When I realized

that I was thinking of finding the person who taped the message and venting my rage,

I decided it was time to seek therapy."

Afterthebeep says he has yet to determine an appropriate treatment for the new disease,

but he suggested it was time for a mammoth federally funded initiative to tackle

the problem.

Officials at the Department of Health were unavailable for comment on the issue.

Messages left at the Department were not returned.

Back in Phnom Penh, the head of the Government's Human Rights Commission, Om Yienteng,

appears to be having a few difficulties with the jargon connected with his job.

When one wire service reporter rang him about the Licadho's report on torture, he

responded: "Torture? What is that?" After a quick explanation of torture

the reply was still "I don't know what it is."

When a second reporter rang him for comment on the same issue they spoke together

in English for about 15 minutes, but Yienteng appeared reluctant to comment about

the issue, eventually saying: "I don't speak English," and hanging up.

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