About

[Updated 7 January, 2022]

WELCOME to Macaranga, a journalism portal covering the environment and sustainability in Malaysia. Our portal aims to provide in-depth journalistic features on issues and build knowledge about ecosystems.

Our objective is to be relevant, insightful and accurate and to fill a gap in producing local content for Malaysian and global readers.

Malaysian media coverage of the environment and sustainability has, and continues to be eclipsed by a focus on economic development, in line with national aspirations.

Meanwhile, global coverage of Malaysian environmental issues is select and scattered.

This is despite Malaysia’s rich natural resources and growing economic costs of biodiversity loss and climate change.

Hence, Macaranga.

Providing relevant, insightful and accurate writing about Malaysia's environment (Photo: SL Wong)
Macaranga (Euphorbiaceae) is a family of tropical pioneer species that recolonises disturbed forest areas, paving the way for other species. It is found all over Malaysia -- about 9% of the 300 known species call Malaysia home -- as well as throughout Asia and beyond, as far as Africa.
Research-based journalism

When we launched in 2019, Malaysia had a new reform government for the first time in 60 years. But then, February 2020 saw the start of political realignments that are still ongoing and has seen two coalition governments in 18 months. Political instability continues to beset the country.

At the same time, the Covid-19 crisis began. It continues to impact every sector of society from health to the economy.

Through it all, there is an even greater need for deeply-researched, engaging and accurately-reported stories about environmental issues — stories which are significant nationally and beyond.

As such, the team is digging deep into our experience, networks within and outside Malaysia, specialist knowledge and communication skills. We are also collaborating with different groups and are aiming for more collaborations.

We would like this digital, interactive platform to eventually become a source of reliable and relevant information on Malaysia’s environment.

Ultimately, we would like to inform, persuade, educate and connect policy-makers, environmental groups, scientists, businesses, journalists and the public to jointly pursue sustainable development. 

The team

The portal is the brainchild of, and is run by Malaysia-based environmental and science writers, SL Wong and Yao-Hua Law. Together, we have over 30 years of experience reporting, writing and producing content.

Providing relevant, insightful and accurate writing about Malaysia's environment (Photo: SL Wong)
Known locally as 'mahang', Macaranga has a symbiotic relationship with tree-living ants (Formicidae) -- the plant provides the ants food in return for protection from pests. The plant is also used by humans in traditional medicine.

We have done work for local and international print, broadcast and online media, government and aid agencies, corporations and environmental organisations.

We have also produced videos, podcasts, books, and run workshops.

Working with our content-producing and publishing network, we hope Macaranga will be an impactful digital multimedia platform.

The Macaranga team is reporting on Malaysia-based conservation research, issues and people at ICCB 2019.
Yao Hua and Siew Lyn at our first Macaranga coverage of the International Congress on Conservation Biology, where we quietly introduced the portal to the world.

Yao-Hua Law  is a freelance science journalist in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He has written for Science, Science News, The Atlantic, and Mosaic. He runs a podcast on science stories in Southeast Asia, and co-founded Macaranga, an environmental journalism portal focused on Malaysia. He loves durians and could spend hours watching insects on plants.

SL Wong has been producing content professionally for 30 years. Her focus is on the environment and sustainability and her work appears in the print, broadcast and electronic media. Her clients have ranged from media, book publishers, corporations, government and development agencies and NGOs. She wishes she has the time to digitise her slide collection.

Report card

2021: Yao Hua was selected as one of 13 Pulitzer Centre Rainforest Investigation Network Fellows to write on forest-use in Peninsular Malaysia for one year. Siew Lyn edited. Siew Lyn was also awarded an Environmental Journalism Network (EJN) Grant to cover seahorse conservation. Yao Hua edited.

This year, we commissioned translators to translate selected stories into Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese, with Siew Lyn editing the BM, and Yao Hua, the Chinese.  Macaranga stories have been republished by local media such as Malaysiakini and Sin Chew Jit Poh and regional media Southeast Asia Globe, China Dialogue and South China Morning Post. We have also been cited by the Malay Mail, the Vibes, and Mongabay, among others.

The Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia invited us to present and discuss the analyses and findings in our story “Forest Management in Peninsular Malaysia – You Decide” (Read about it on our blog).

 

The team continues with our monthly slot on BFM89.9 Radio’s Earth Matters where we do a wrapup of environmental news, and we have appeared on Ai FM and TV station Astro Awani’s Consider This talk show.

We trained and mentored our second cohort of 8 new environmental journalists under our Sprouts programme. Under our mentorship, one of our Sprouts journalists, Kymberley Chu, won an EJN grant to work on a data journalism story. We thank the Soroptomists International of Bentong for supporting our training workshop. And we thank our readers for supporting the programme to the tune of RM5,844.99, all of which pays the Sprouts journalists.

Finally, we ran our first Macaranga Supporters campaign to help cover Macaranga’s costs for 2022. A total of 93 Supporters generously contributed RM26,90.

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2020: Yao Hua and Siew Lyn were co-grantees of the Pulitzer Centre Rainforest Journalism Grant for a series on drivers of deforestation in Peninsular Malaysia. Yao Hua was the principal investigator and Siew Lyn edited. Siew Lyn was also awarded funding from the Earth Journalism Network for three of a five-part series on Covid-19 impacts on environmental sectors in Malaysia. Yao Hua edited.

Macaranga stories have been republished by local media such as Malaysiakini and The Star and by regional media the Southeast Asia Globe and China Dialogue. The team has a monthly slot on BFM89.9 Radio’s Earth Matters where we do a wrapup of environmental news, and we appear from time to time on TV station Astro Awani’s Consider This talk show.

We also trained and mentored our first cohort of 7 new environmental journalists under our Sprouts programme.

We want to be as relevant as possible, so we welcome comments and feedback. Do also tell us what topics you feel we should cover here. And follow us on Twitter and Facebook. For digests and behind-the-scenes tidbits, subscribe to our e-mailers for free.

Scientific references:

Govaerts, R., et al (2019). World Checklist of Euphorbiaceae. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; http://wcsp.science.kew.org/ Retrieved 18 July 2019.

Nor Aishah Mazlan, Ahmed Mediani, Faridah Abas, et al., “Antioxidant, Antityrosinase, Anticholinesterase, and Nitric Oxide Inhibition Activities of Three Malaysian Macaranga Species,” The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2013, Article ID 312741, 8 pages, 2013. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/312741.

Huge thanks to some generous folks:

    • Web designer Chong Su Weii (suu.work{at}gmail{dot}com) for helping us get this website up at cost price
    • For setting up the business, sponsorship from the inimitable Kerk Boon Leng, Lee Siew Ching, Procode Management Services and the all-round-nice-guy startup pro Izwan Zakaria
    • The wonderful Ruby Subramaniam for digital marketing advice

Like what we do? Support our journalism! Contact us at editorial{at}macaranga{dot}org.

A Malaysian Environmental Journalism Site