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Orang Minyak XX

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Published on Nov 27, 2011

A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR:

"Orang minyak" literally means "oily man" in Malay and refers to a local evil being who covers himself in black oil and goes around burgling homes and raping virgins. Some people believe the orang minyak is a creature of black magic and that he needs to rape virgins in order to maintain his powers, which include being invisible to a vast majority of people. Others believe the orang minyak is nothing more than a petty criminal and that his oily coat is to help him slip away from his potential captors, literally.

When award-winning filmmakers, Tan Chui Mui and Liew Seng Tat, along with actor-producers Chua Thien See and Foo Fei Ling, approached me to make a short film about the issues surrounding an Australian rare earth refinery in Gebeng, on the east coast of Malaysia, I knew nothing about rare earth or the fact that Mitsubishi operated such a refinery in Malaysia back in the 80's, closed it down in 1992 and has been cleaning up the radioactive waste since then. The more I read about the complexities and dangers of refining rare earth (because they are found in nature alongside radioactive substances like thorium and uranium), the more befuddled I was that Malaysia would welcome an Australian company with no previous experience in rare earth mining or processing to open a refinery in Gebeng; 700,000 people live in villages and towns within a 30-km radius of the proposed refinery site.

The company wasn't even going to mine the rare earth minerals here. They were going to dig them up from somewhere in the Australian desert, ship the ore (which includes radioactive substances) over to Malaysia, refine them and ship the pure rare earth metals back to Australia, leaving the radioactive waste in Malaysia.

Even more bizarre was the fact that our government had granted this foreign company a 12-year tax holiday in return for creating 350 jobs in the town.

When the people of the affected town began protesting against the proposed refinery, other Malaysians, like myself, remained either ignorant or indifferent towards their plight.

Of course, I'm simplifying the events and circumstances and I only relate them here purely as background information.

In any case, I got thinking about our government, whom we elect every 5 years or so. I thought about the Australian company. I thought about the inhabitants of Gebeng and its surrounding villages and towns. I thought about apathetic me.

Then I thought of the Orang Minyak. The evil creature with magical powers which have to be renewed regularly. The petty thief and rapist who gets away with his crimes because most of us are blind to his misdeeds. I thought about the virgins who can see him and how they must look to non-virgins who can't. These other people must think them paranoid and probably wouldn't come to their rescue if they screamed for help.

And I suddenly saw the short film I was going to make. And you can see it again by clicking REPLAY :-)

For more information on the rare earth refinery issue, you might wish to read the New York Times articles:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/bus...

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/09/bus...

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/30/bus...

Thanks for watching. Have a good laugh. Things get really hilarious next week with our final (and longest) film - Liew Seng Tat's "Welcome to Kampong Radioaktif"! Be sure to catch it. In the meantime, do check out or re-watch our two previous shorts (Woo Ming Jin's "Masakan Cinta"/"Love Dish" and Tan Chui Mui's "Cinta Lai Kwan"/"Lai Kwan's Love") as well as our series of 3 teasers featuring the fictional reporter Lee Ah Seng here on our YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/kampongradioaktif

Hope you enjoy the films!

joon han

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