Malaysian Naturalist

I’ve always liked writing, and through the years, since 2001 in fact, I’ve worked as a writer, technical writer, copywriter, editor. I never ventured far from the written word and publications in their various forms.

In 2012, I even participated in a sort of ‘open tender’ for textbook writers by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), the national textbook publisher. Literally, it was ‘may the best writer (or teacher) win’! When I went to submit my package (including three sample chapters), I saw on the list that 30 teachers had submitted before me. And I was not a teacher. I was an editor working for a schoolbook publisher. A few weeks passed, and out of the blue, I received a call – I had been selected along with two teachers to write KSSR English Year 4. That was an unforgettable one-year journey, with monthly week-long meetings at DBP for brainstorming, manuscript improvement and the works.

Fast-forward to 2019, I have been a self-employed writer for two years, when I got a call out of the blue from the executive director of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), of which I was a life member. The position of managing editor of the Malaysian Naturalist was now vacant. Would I like to take up the challenge?

Even though I never thought that I would be the managing editor of any magazine, and was contented to be a writer, I found myself saying yes. It was probably only because I was passionate about nature and the environment.

The first issue I was supposed to handle was late, so I had to rush, and I invited various members to contribute articles. However, I made the deadline successfully. On the cover of my first issue was a beautiful Leopard Cat by Elliot Ong. Hey, I was making things work! It was a great feeling. Best of all, I was working from home. There was no requirement to commute to work daily and be stuck in mind-numbing traffic jams and trapped in an office for the whole day (from 17 years of working in full-time permanent jobs, being stuck inside an office for 8-10 hours or more, feeling trapped – it’s a real energy-sapper).

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Then it was time to produce the next issue. After all, it was a quarterly magazine. This time, we talked about the iconic and dedicated environmentalists of Malaysia, and the Dark Cave (next to the Temple Cave of Batu Caves), among other things. We put a cave centipede photo by Tony Yap on the cover. Things went better and smoother now, with my second issue. And the Publications Committee was supportive too.

I found that being a member of the society for over 14 years had its benefits. I was a regular volunteer, so I knew the active members, special interest group coordinators, branch chairs and others who could contribute articles. Another important factor was being able to work with the designers in the agency well too. I gave them full creative freedom to come up with the design and layout for each page, and they have always produced great work.

In this regard, managing relationships was equally as important as being able to write, edit and manage the magazine. I am thankful for all the support I have received so far from all of the parties involved, and this has enabled me to make the Society’s magazine beautiful and informative.

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I’m looking forward to working on more issues to come. Next issue will be about the Malaysian Nature Society’s 80th anniversary, which we will be celebrating throughout 2020.

If you would like to get a copy of the mag or subscribe, check out https://www.mns.my/get-your-copy-now/

If you are a nature lover, environmentalist or researcher, and you have something to write about, do send the article to us, with lots of hi-res photos. You can see the contributor guidelines here: https://www.mns.my/contributor-guidelines/

 

This article was first published in LinkedIn.

 

Rethinking Business Towards Sustainable Development

I chanced upon a free business seminar for SMEs in Putrajaya on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in evenbrite.com one day in 2017, and signed up to find out what it was about. I was not an SME, but an independent self-employed writer, but I went anyway.

It was good that the organiser made it a point to organise such an event to increase awareness about the SDGs. At least the SMEs who made it to the event could learn more about them and how they could benefit from the SDGs as well.

After that, I wrote an article that was published in the Malaysian Naturalist, 71-3, March-May 2018, on pages 44-45. It’s called ‘Rethinking Business Towards Sustainable Development’.

Here is my published article in the Malaysian Naturalist for your reading pleasure.

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Earth Month X MAPFEST 2018

The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Selangor Branch’s Photogroup is participating in the Earth Month at Publika, Kuala Lumpur by holding an exhibition from Friday, 23 March to Friday, 6 April 2018. The exhibition features 72 curated images by 16 photographers that highlight the beauty of nature, as well as the problems that plague our environment today. The organising committee curated 6 of my photos for the exhibition.

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A photo taken of me with 2 of my flower photos on display. Left: Gerbera daisies. Right: Purple water lily.

 

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The other 4 of my photos on display

The exhibition is located next to Paparich in Circle, Level A3, Block A. It is right at the entrance where cars drop people off to walk in.

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The exhibition panels on the right of the entrance
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The exhibition panels on the left of the entrance, next to Paparich

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A little card placed next to my photos

 

 

 

 

Do come to visit the photo exhibition if you are coming to Publika. There will be other activities held in conjunction with Earth Month here as well.

 

 

 

 

Beach Clean-up 2017

I like it when people from all walks of life come together for a good cause, and I saw this at the first beach clean-up organised by Guardians of Mother Earth at Bagan Lalang Beach, Sepang. It was really great that friends and total strangers came together, many with whole families in tow. In fact, the organiser, Mei Boh, was surprised by the overwhelming response, because over 60 people came.

Although it rained in the Klang Valley in the early hours of the morning when we set out, we were blessed with great weather – clouds protected us from the strong sunlight typical at beaches, enabling us to collect all the rubbish we could find over 2 hours. We were thankful to Mei Kuan for sponsoring the equipment to help us, such as gloves and thongs, among other things.

We were divided into 5 groups, and each group covered a different section of the beach. Some went to the sandy area exposed at low tide, some pulled out rubbish from between large stones in a rocky area, while some combed the grassy area where people had their picnics and barbecues.

Some volunteers washed dirty plastic plates and other plastic objects before putting them aside in bags specifically reserved for recyclable items. Au Yong from ICycle advised us to put recyclable items in clear plastic bags and unrecyclable rubbish in black plastic bags. So the sorted recyclable items could be recycled later.

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Mohd Faisal Abdur Rani from Let’s Do It Malaysia brought his weighing scale, and he weighed all the rubbish we collected.

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It turned out that we collected 200 kg of trash in 2 hours! We were amazed that the Bagan Lalang Beach had so much rubbish.

After we finished collecting the rubbish, we had a short meditation session led by Susee Ram, followed by sharing sessions and refreshments. The first sharing session was by Au Yong from ICycle, and the second sharing was by Mohd Faisal. Faisal showed us how to make eco bricks.

All in all, it was a fabulous day and we returned home satisfied that we had done something good for the environment to end the year on a positive note.

 

Soil

Soil is everywhere, beneath your shoes, under your car, hidden under buildings and houses. It is something so ubiquitous that we take it for granted, but without soil, we would have no food and no environment.

An indispensable part of the natural environment, soil is important to plants, animals, rocks, landforms, rivers, etc. and it determines the distribution of plant species and provides a habitat for a wide range of organisms.

We need fertile soil to grow our food, and the food of our livestock. Without fertile soil, we would all be starving.

 
Source of photo: http://www.fao.org/soils-2015/news/news-detail/en/c/317128/

Today, we show gratitude for the soil under our feet, a reminder that we must care for our planet to ensure sustainability in the long term.

Here is a contemporary series of three haikus on the subject of soil:

Of soil and toil 

I

See the fertile lands
Fed by sunlight and water
Shoots growing gently

II

Touch the leaves of plants
Feel the soil in your fingers
From which your food springs

III

Now in this moment
Contemplate the miracle
That is our planet

 

Khor Hui Min
13 July 2017

Read more about soil here.