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Short film “Survival Guide to Kampung Radioactive” features Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh

November 11, 2011
International festivals eye anti-Lynas short films
Nigel Aw
6:01PM Nov 10, 2011

Laughs and cheers greeted four film directors who put their work together for the screening of the Survival Guide to Kampung Radioactive to raise more awareness on the Lynas rare earth processing plant in Gebeng, Kuantan.

NONEHowever the humourous moment quickly faded with the fourth and last short film by Tan Chui Mui (left), a snapshot of the life of an elderly mother and her son, Kok Leong.

At age 29, one would expect a son to care for the family, but Kok Leong constantly grabs on to his mother, Lai Kwan, refusing to let her go, as a child afraid of the dark would do.

But justifiably, Kok Leong’s world is one of darkness, without vision, he is also mentally challenged.

His condition is a painful reminder of the Mitsubishi rare earth processing plant in Bukit Merah, Perak, where Lai Kwan had worked when pregnant with Kok Leong, and is now one of the world’s largest clean-up sites in the rare earth industry.

Titled Lai Kwan’s Love, the film shows how the devoted mother tends to her son, who will not let go of her, for up to 22 hours a day.

‘If gov’t was as devoted as Lai Kwan’

“If only our elected representatives are as devoted as Lai Kwan to her son, but they are not.

NONE“That is why people don’t trust the government to regulate the Lynas’s (rare earth processing plant),” said Yeo Joon Han (left), one of four directors who presented his work in Kuala Lumpur this afternoon.

True to this mistrust, Tan, whose hometown is Kampung Sungai Ular, a short distance north of Gebeng, where the Lynas rare earth plant that is under construction, vowed to help stop the project.

Torn with the prospect of losing the village she grew up in, Tan who now resides in Beijing, thought she had to do something.

“When I was about the get on my flight (to Beijing), I thought this (building the Gebeng plant) would not do… that I must do something, so I called up some friends and asked them for help.”

She later joined forces with local activists opposing the Lynas plant and tried to raise more awareness about the issue among the village folk.

“But I later realised that we were not activists and the best way would be through things that we were familiar with, such as films.

“We wanted to create awareness not only in the villages, but among everybody,” Tan said. And she does not intend to stop there.

‘Short films may go international’

The work of the four directors received attention from organisers of international film festivals, including the Cannes and Rotterdam film festivals, even before they were completed.

“We have been asked to submit our work by the organisers for them to consider and we’ll see later if they are screened.”

Yeo, whose short film is titled Orang Minyak XX said the short films weren’t intended to be anti-Lynas but were aimed at provoking discussions on the issue.

“I just felt that if we could do our part to get people to talk, then we can move forward with this,” he said, adding that it was important that the people overcome their apathy of simply dismissing the problem as one that concerns the people of Kuantan only – a point that is raised in his short film.

Reflecting this solidarity was Liew Seng Tat, whose short film Welcome to Kampung Radioaktif is a humourous snapshot into the lives of people in an environment polluted by radiation, with one having his private part ‘mutated’ into a rather hyperactive hand.

“We wanted to help out, we wanted to do something,” Liew said.

MPs can act too

Another director, Woo Ming Jin (below, left), the brains behind Love Dish, said he hoped to keep up the momentum in raising awareness on the radioactive materials issue as there were still many people who were not aware of or were not concerned about the Lynas rare earth processing plant.

NONEWoo’s short film features Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh and Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah, both of whom were present today to show support, and gives the audience a chance to gauge their representatives’ acting skills.

The short films are packaged together with scenes of a “reporter” named Lim Ah Seng who works for “TV Tiger” and chastises the critics of Lynas, adopting the style of TV3 reporter Karam Singh Walia’s body language and fondness for Malay proverbs.

Woo said the short films would soon be uploaded on YouTube and he encouraged viewers to share them and to “spread the word”.

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