Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN set on abandoning one of its own

UN set on abandoning one of its own

UN set on abandoning one of its own

A man brain damaged and suicidal after a 1993 car accident while working for the

UN appears to have been abandoned by his former employers despite a written agreement

that they would look after him.

The case of former UNTAC interpreter Lok Mapoly was brought to light several months

ago by the Post.

He was then and still is languishing in a Phnom Penh hospital which is currently

carrying bills of more than $60,000 for his treatment since April 1996.

The treatment was arranged by UNTAC who at the time accepted liability for his care.

The case was dealt with by UNTAC until they closed their local office and then it

was passed to the UNDP office in Phnom Penh.

A UNDP spokeswoman has said several times over the past month that the matter was

being dealt with.

However the hospital said that the office has never contacted them and when they

approached the office they were fobbed off.

The UNDP country director in Cambodia refused to talk to the Post.

The clincs owner Dr Chea Sam An said that he was now reduced to sending faxes to

a friend of his in New York and asking him if he could help by contacting the UN

there.

He said the only help the hospital has recieved from the UNDP office has been an

unofficial suggestion by one of the office workers that he "writes strong words

to UN" in New York.

He said he would like another organization to take care of Mapoly if the UN was not

prepared to pay but till one was found he would keep looking after him.

Mapoly is now severly overweight, incontinent and capable of only a few words of

speech but staff say his understanding is increasing.

According to Dr Chea Sam An, Mapoly has progressed to the extent that he is able

to count aloud. But he is subject to fits of rage and has tried to commit suicide

by stabbing and hanging himself.

He said that they have had to employ two extra staff members to keep a 24-hour watch

on him.

His room is locked because he is prone to destroying hospital property.

"Our big worry is about his life," Dr Chea Sam An said when.

"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."

When visited by the Post Mapoly was naked and sitting on a bare wooden bed.

A hospital worker hastily sprayed a can off disinfectant and air freshener in the

room.

Mapoly smiled and pulled out from among his folded krama his only other possession,

wrapped inside some scrap paper were his two UNTAC ID cards and an old phone card.

The UNTAC cards had photos of Mapoly six years ago - a handsome slim man - nothing

like he is now. But the sight of it seemed to spark something in Mapoly, he smiled

and held the cards in front of him for a photograph.

When first spoken to by the Post Dr An said Lok Mapoly was an orphan who has had

only a single visit from a relative since his return from treatment in Thailand in

1994.

"I just want to hear some news from the UN on what I can do for him," Dr

An said.

He acknowledged that the case was a burden for the hospital but said there was nothing

they could do - they could not put him out on the street because he could not

survive.

"I worry about how he will live if he is outside the clinic. Who will take care

and feed him?"

Finance Chief Chamroen said that in September 1995, Mapoly had been promised by an

UNTAC doctor that he would be taken to France for treatment.

On the appointed day he collected his belongings and moved to the reception area

to wait for the doctor's arrival.

When the doctor did not appear to take Lok Mapoly away, Lok flew into a rage and

broke the television set in the reception area.

The case seems straight forward - a letter from Johannes Wortel, Director of

Administration for UNTAC, dated February 14, 1994, to clinic director Ty Ngeth Surith

says:

"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 $10 and

$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 Sok."

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