Photographer slams Malaysian man's pictures of Fukushima; claims his story is fabricated

PHOTO: Facebook/Keow Wee Long

A Polish photojournalist has slammed a Malaysian photographer for a series of pictures he reportedly took in Fukushima's exclusion zone, calling his account a "fabrication" and "sensationalism".

Arkadiusz Podniesinski's accusation comes after a blogger penned a widely-circulated open letter criticising 28-year-old Keow Wee Loong's photographs as a "publicity stunt" and an effort to get "10 seconds of Internet fame". 

Mr Podniesinski, who prefaced his critcisms by saying that he has visited Fukushima "many times to document the destruction caused by the disaster at the nuclear power plant", said that Keow's photos that included a photo of himself in a gas mask in an abandoned bookstore were not actually taken in the exclusion (or red) zone. 

Podniesinski's photographs have been published on numerous news and current affairs websites in the past.

In a scathing article posted on his website on July 18, Mr Podniesinski said: "I did not have any major problems identifying the sites where Keow Wee Loong took his photographs. It quickly turned out that all of the photos he took were not taken in the red no-go zones as he claimed, but only in the open green zone (sometimes orange)."

He went on to add that all of these places are open to the public, criticising Mr Keow's claim that he had entered the exclusion zone illegally to shoot his photos.  

According to Mr Podniesinski, most of Mr Keow's photos were taken in the town of Nomie, which has had a 'green' status for "at least three years and have be open to all since 1 April of this year (sic)".

He also said that a permit to visit the exclusion zone can be "obtained in just a week". All that is required is a justification of an important public interest. 

Mr Podniesinski added that his post was "not to trivialise the catastrophic consequences of the failures of nuclear power plants" but to oppose those "seeking sensationalism". 

As of Tuesday (July 19) morning, Mr Keow had yet to respond to Mr Podniesinski's post.

Previously, an open letter on a blog site called "Desu Awaits Us All" by a writer only known as Pierce, criticised Mr Keow's "reckless and irresponsible actions", adding that he had been banned from Mr Keow's Facebook album after leaving his comments.

Like Mr Podniesinski, Pierce lambasted Mr Keow's photos as a publicity stunt.

Mr Keow's photo series has been featured on various news websites, and landed him interviews with Daily Mail, CNN and Time. 

On July 14, he shared an article published by CNN with his followers on Facebook, saying that he had been granting interviews "non-stop" for two days.

In that post, Keow said: "People always ask me how do you get publish, well is simple, stay true to yourself and do the thing you enjoy doing...don't try so hard to impress other people as their opinion is irrelevant. follow your passion and they will eventually come to you one day (sic)".

It was previously reported that Nikon Malaysia had replied to Keow's post asking if it could exhibit his photos at the Nikon Centre.

However, in an email to AsiaOne on July 19, the company said it would no longer feature Keow's images at its centre. 

It said: "As a company we understand and acknowledge that this remains a sensitive issue to some, especially those affected by the Fukushima disaster. We respect and believe that in their best interest it would be wise not to pursue the photo exhibition."

The company added that Keow has been notified of their decision. 

prabukm@sph.com.sg

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