Telum Talks To… Siew Lyn Wong and Yao Hua Law, Co-Founders at Macaranga

Telum Talks To… Siew Lyn Wong and Yao Hua Law, Co-Founders at Macaranga

In conjunction with Earth Day 2023, Telum Media recently spoke to Siew Lyn Wong and Yao Hua Law, Co-Founders at Macaranga. This interview includes how Macaranga differs from other publications, challenges they face, and why is it important for us to conserve the environment.

Please tell us about yourself. How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?
SL: I think it interesting that you call it offbeat. For me, it's merely journalism that focuses on the environment. But perhaps it’s a natural fit as a lover of nature, of living life, so there is a tomorrow, and of storytelling. I also began my career as a Sub-Editor working in regional specialist publishing (though about tech) and so I find myself now after 30 years, co-running a specialist publication. 

YH: I switched out of the academia because I thought Malaysians needed science communicators more than scientists. Then, after writing a few popular science articles, I realised I preferred science journalism. It’s a real joy and thrill to combine a methodological and evidence-based approach with creative storytelling.
What are the challenges you face in your profession?
SL: People thinking it’s about charity or tree-hugging.

YH: There are way more environmental concerns than Macaranga can cover, and we can’t find enough reporters who could or would write for us. I also find it challenging to write truthful narratives that engage readers and effectively prompt them to learn about our environments.
Do you think providing datasets in investigative journalism makes an article more impactful?
SL: Yes, it allows readers to double-check our findings, as well as enable and encourage those who are interested, to explore related issues and angles of what we report on. In Malaysia, where data is inadequate or difficult to access, we are also providing a service by having all this data we excavate, be available to all. 
Why is it important to care for the natural environment we exist in? 
SL: We are dependent on nature for the very air we breathe and the water we drink. It makes sense to ensure that these most basic things on which we depend, are in the best possible condition. Also, we are actually just one part of the bigger whole - nature - and as such, should realise our insignificance and play our part to be good to and responsible citizens of nature.

YH: We can exhaust natural resources and break nature’s resilience. Such overreach had decimated empires and societies. Our children and us will live to feel the outcomes of our actions today - we must act to secure the future we want to enjoy.
In conjunction with Earth Day, what's your advice to the public regarding ways to conserve the environment in Malaysia?
SL: Since this year's theme is 'Invest in Our Planet’, it would be great to see folks investing their time, energy, money and hearts into making sure our environment is healthy and balanced. This could be as simple as turning off your lights when you leave the room, to lobbying your State Assemblyperson (ADUN) to stop destructive infrastructure.
What’s one simple act of green or earth-friendly resolution you wish everyone could implement on daily basis?
SL: Don’t buy that thing that you don’t need.

YH: Use and support public transport.

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