In a world that idolizes celebrities and capitalists, Wiki Impact 100 offers a fresh take on changemakers in Malaysia doing solid impact work and changing society and the environment for the better. This is a celebration of humanity and hope for our country. We aim to be holistic and inclusive in our selection, and we know there are thousands of changemakers that deserve the spotlight. If you know someone, nominate them today!
Also, get in touch with us and tell us what we’ve done right and how we can do better. We are all ears (and eyes).
We believe that everyone can be a changemaker, which is why Wiki Impact is dedicated to bringing together and shaping Malaysia’s impact industry. Please support us by following our newsletter, social media, and sharing content you feel deserves the attention of the masses!
Someone who steps up and out to solve a problem for the greater good of all. They use their ideas, talents, experience, networks, resources and platforms to affect positive change. They are constantly pushing the boundaries for better outcomes and innovating new ways to build a better future for all.
Check out some of these changemakers in action.
NICHOLAS SAGAU TONY NGIMAT
Nicholas Sagau Tony is the COO of REV Media Group – a digital media expert and leader from Malaysia. He speaks & moderates conferences about digital products, content, data, marketing and innovation, transformation, corporate innovation and OTT. He is one of the key members of the digital team at REV Media Group, responsible for developing and expanding the digital business of Media Prima Berhad, the largest media conglomerate in Malaysia. REV’s digital content network reaches 11.5 million Malaysians monthly through 38 authoritative digital brands. Besides managing REV Media’s daily operations, he holds the Operation and Technology Transformation Officer position at the Group Managing Director Office. Industry experts and collaborators have recognised his desire to keep steering society and the nation toward digital excellence. 2020 he was elected President of the Malaysia Digital Association (MDA). Nicholas and his innovative team have won multiple award recognitions from the industry throughout the years. Notably, clinching the premier Malaysia’s Digital Publisher of the Year award from The Malaysian Digital Association – two years in a row (from 2020 – 2022), and winning three gold and bronze awards at Singapore’s prestigious Asia Mob-Ex Awards (which honours and awards mobile product excellence).
Hamdan Abdul Majeed is the Managing Director of Think City , a social purpose organisation with the mission of making cities more people-friendly, resilient and liveable. As a regional city making agency, Think City provides urban policy thinking, management and implementation of urban solutions, while advocating change in the way cities are planned, curated, developed, and celebrated. A subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional, the sovereign wealth investment arm of Malaysia, Think City’s work has reversed the decline of George Town, Penang, putting it on the international list of 10 Best Places to Visit. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Think City now focuses on four areas of urban rejuvenation: Placemaking, Analytics, Resilience and Conservation. Hamdan has actively been involved in shaping urban policy and plans in Malaysia including more recently, Penang 2030, a state government initiative with the vision of a family-oriented, green and smart Penang. Prior to assuming his role as Managing Director of Think City, he was a former Director of Investment at Khazanah where he led their regional office in the north of Malaysia, identifying strategic investment opportunities to catalyse growth and development in that region.
He was formerly an investment banker where he was involved extensively in capital markets advisory, specialising in structured finance, project finance and research. Hamdan has an interest in the development of civil society in Malaysia, and the political economy of Third World and Islamic Economics. He holds a degree in Economics and Management from the University of London. In 2014, he was recognised at the World Cities Summit as a young leader on urban development and city transformation and in 2012, was awarded the Eisenhower Fellowship as a young leader for his work in urban development and leadership in cities. Hamdan is co-author of the book, ‘Cities, People & The Economy – A Study on Positioning Penang’, (Khazanah Nasional berhad & The World Bank, 2010) with Homi Karas and Albert Zeufack.
Aireen Omar is the President (Investment & Ventures) of Capital A (formerly known as AirAsia
Group). An inspiring female leader in tech, she is responsible for Capital A’s ventures builder
pillar (Ventures) strategy, promoting innovation while overseeing digital strategic group-wide
initiatives throughout the Group and encouraging collaboration across Capital A’s businesses
Prior to this, she was President of AirAsia Digital, AirAsia Deputy Group CEO, Digital &
Technology; CEO of AirAsia Berhad, Director of Corporate Finance & Treasury. Taking on these
roles, she was instrumental in shaping the development of AirAsia into one of the fastest
growing and most highly-acclaimed airlines globally and helped transform the company into a
global cloud and data-driven platform, growing the group’s digital and fintech businesses.
Her accolades include Outstanding CEO Achievement Award by Malaysian Women of Excellence,
Corporate Treasurer’s 25 Most Influential Women in Treasury, Masterclass Woman CEO of the
Year by Selangor Excellence Business Awards, Eminent Leaders in Asia at the Asia Corporate
Excellence and Sustainability Awards (ACES), and APAC CEO of the Year 2017 by Aviation 100
Receive monthly digest about jobs, news, and events. Promise, no spam!
You can unsubscribe anytime.
Wiki Impact is an online platform dedicated to the impact industry. We share stories and data on issues that matter, highlighting impact-driven organizations and changemakers on the ground. Now, everyone can experience the impact industry, get data to give effectively, and bring more fulfilment and purpose to life.
Ananti Rajasingam is the Chief Executive Officer at Yayasan Chow Kit (YCK), a non-governmental organization that works closely with at-risk children, youth, and families in the Chow Kit area of Kuala Lumpur. Since 2006, YCK has cared for over 3,000 impoverished and marginalized children, including those from violent family backgrounds and challenging environments.
During her time at YCK, Ananti started as a social worker in 2009 and was promoted to the position of Chief Executive Officer within seven years. Her current role includes overseeing all departments, including two child and teen development centers and a safe home, managing finances and fundraising, human resource management, policy-making, as well as advocating and networking at a national level to protect the basic rights of marginalized children in Malaysia.
Ananti graduated with a degree in Psychology in 2002 and completed her postgraduate studies in Rehabilitation Counseling in 2006 at the University of South Australia. In recognition of her tireless efforts on behalf of marginalized children and youth in Malaysia, Ananti was selected as a participant for the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), the U.S. State Department’s premier professional exchange program. She was also nominated for Pfizer’s 50 Fantabulous Award in 2015.
In 2021, she was acknowledged as an Unsung Hero by The Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council through an exclusive e-book collection featuring stories from the pandemic battleground.
Making an impact on children, to me, means supporting them in a holistic and positive manner and having the ability to influence their lives in a positive and meaningful way. It entails aiding them in their growth, irrespective of their circumstances, helping them learn and develop into responsible, confident, and compassionate individuals. This encompasses being a role model, offering guidance, and nurturing their well-being, education, and personal growth.
Prema is a passionate advocate for eliminating poverty, backed by 26 years of dedicated experience as an inspirational social worker. She has had the privilege of making a meaningful impact on the lives of countless individuals. Her journey has been characterized by a steadfast commitment to rescuing and empowering trafficked and abused women and girls, offering them the support and resources necessary to rebuild their lives.
As a Certified Corporate Trainer, Prema has seamlessly integrated her skills in empowering youths and women from underprivileged groups into her work in social services. Her extensive knowledge in the field not only encompasses addressing the immediate needs of those facing social struggles and challenges but also involves providing comprehensive training and guidance to women and youth. This training equips them with the tools and knowledge needed to overcome obstacles, pursue their goals, and become active contributors to their communities.
Throughout her career, Prema has borne witness to the transformation of countless lives. She has seen individuals, who have confronted adversity, rise above their circumstances with resilience and strength, becoming thriving members of society. Her work extends beyond mere advocacy; it embodies a mission to foster empowerment and self-sufficiency among the marginalized and vulnerable. It is an ongoing journey of compassion, dedication, and unwavering support for those who need it most.
Prema remains unwavering in her commitment to making a positive impact on society. She firmly believes that through collective efforts, everyone can contribute to creating a more just and compassionate world for all.
Making an impact in the field of social work is not solely about the number of lives we touch, but also about the depth and lasting nature of that impact. It’s very aligned to our theme, ‘Touching one life at a time’. Making an impact necessitates a blend of empathy, advocacy, collaboration, and a steadfast commitment to continuous improvement.
Asrin is a field analyst for security issues, migrants, refugees, undocumented and socio-political issues in Sabah. He is experienced in non-governmental organisation (NGO) involving human rights issues, especially statehood in Sabah, for more than 8 years.
Prior to that, Asrin was the founder of Buku Jalanan Bachok Kelantan and Free Reading Sandakan which is a book and art movement with street concept. From there, he became a part-time writer on various portals such as Neon Terbit, Tumbuh, Nadi Mahasiswa Malaysia, The Malaysian Insider, Panjialam Monograph, Selangor Kini and journal Svara.
In October 2018. Asrin published his first book entitled ‘Muda & Derhaka’, with Gerakbudaya. ‘Muda & Derhaka’ is a compilation of essays and articles related to politics, social criticism, education and society. Asrin’s interest lies also in poetry, and he has produced many fanzines of poetry that revolve around life, emotional struggles, nature and spiritual experiences.
Making an impact facilitates better living for underprivileged communities. It is up to us to ensure that each vulnerable community is in good circumstances.
A corporate lawyer, mother, and environment enthusiast, Ms Shi Wen is trying to reduce food waste while feeding those in need. The organisation she founded, SESO — which stands for ‘Save Environment Save Ourselves’ — rescues surplus food from grocery chains and transforms it into warm, nourishing meals that are served to homeless people and other marginalised groups. With the organisation’s Project F Series initiative, it aims to redefine beauty in produce to further help cut waste and to reskill and empower the underprivileged.
Making an impact to me doesn’t mean we have to change the world. I believe in Small Action, Big Impact. It can be a gesture as small as saying “thank you”, so long as it influences one person or helps make a difference to one person’s life. Then, I have made an impact.
Rick Chee is the founder of the Food Aid Foundation, an organisation dedicated to rescuing surplus food from various sources and distributing it to welfare homes, the underprivileged, and those in need. With a career that began as a clerk with the Employees Provident Fund in Kuala Lumpur in 1977, Rick later worked as a sales representative for two other companies.
Rick holds a Master’s degree in International Hospitality Management and actively contributes to the education sector as a member of the Industry Advisory Panel for Taylors University’s Faculty of Leisure, Social and Hospitality. He also serves as a senior adjunct lecturer at Taylors University. With 35 years of experience in food service facility planning, he is currently the managing director of F&B Facilities Sdn Bhd and holds director positions in Prominent Freight Forwarding Services Sdn. Bhd and AR Manufacturing Sdn. Bhd.
As an advocate against food waste in Malaysia, Rick founded the Food Aid Foundation and has established branches and strategic partnerships in every state. He played a crucial role in passing the ‘Food Donation Protection Act’ in the 2019 November Parliamentary session, facilitating more food donations and the expansion of FoodBanks. He also assisted in setting up the Mutiara FoodBank in Penang in 2016 and contributed to the establishment of Yayasan Food Bank Malaysia in 2018.
Rick is a dedicated member of various organisations, including the Chefs Association of Malaysia (as an honorary member and former advisor for 15 years), Kiwanis Kota Damansara, and Rotary Club KL Metro (as an honorary member). Currently, he is involved in a new social enterprise called Heartisan Sdn Bhd, which empowers underprivileged communities with teachable art skills and produces products for sale to support NGO missions.
Making an impact comprises any action or contribution that bears positive results or influences. It can benefit both the giver or the receiver.
With diverse experience in various fields, Qarin Irfan Razak is dedicated to building a better Malaysia through sustained initiatives that empower Malaysians. His journey began in 2016 when he collaborated with the UNHCR, an organisation focused on safeguarding and aiding refugees in Malaysia and presided over Hunger Hurts Malaysia.
Through his experiences with Hunger Hurts, Qarin recognised the importance of long-term efforts in combating poverty, particularly through education and the development of future-proof skills. This realisation led to the co-founding of DevX Asia, alongside Faiz Hadzim, another co-founder of Hunger Hurts. Supported by a strong and capable team, Qarin works to identify wider issues surrounding the topic of poverty in Malaysia.
DevX’s aim is to ensure that individuals, regardless of their age or background, are equipped with the essential skills needed to thrive in an increasingly complex and advanced world. DevX focuses on imparting core skills such as leadership, communication, innovation, and critical thinking through carefully designed programs and modules.
Today, DevX continues to conduct weekly programs, striving to create a stronger and brighter future for all those involved.
Additionally, he holds the position of Vice President at Jentayu Sustainable Berhad, a company committed to generating clean energy for Malaysia.
Making an impact is a responsibility to bring forth positive advancements. At its core, making an impact is continuously learning and being inspired every single day, and in turn, giving back to those around us to leave the world a better place tomorrow than it is today.
Katie Choong is the Manager for Food Bank and Empowerment programs at the Kechara Soup Kitchen Society (KSK), a position she has held for the past six years. Her academic background in Social Science, Psychology, and Counselling has fueled her passion for social work. What drives her is a profound sense of empathy, and she channels her knowledge and dedication into creating a meaningful impact on the lives of those she serves.
Making an impact is about helping individuals with underprivileged backgrounds, transforming their lives as they excel in their roles, symbolising hope and resilience.
Aida is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ibupreneur, a social enterprise that collaborates with single, low-income, or retired mothers with less than RM50,000 in EPF savings.
Founded during the Youth Leadership Academy in 2019, an initiative by McKinsey & Co, Ibupreneur is an accredited social enterprise that promotes women’s economic empowerment by providing education to enhance the skills of vulnerable mothers through a 10-module course that digitizes their microbusinesses. After completing the program, Ibupreneur expands the mothers’ customer base by supplying their products to niche and high-end business-to-business markets, ensuring a sustainable income.
Ibupreneur has trained 240 women in its IbuDigital program and has partnered with 21 mother-bakers in producing its confectionery products. It has contributed 1 million towards women’s economic empowerment through increased maternal income.
Aida oversees operations with the mothers of Ibupreneur Malaysia and leads the key management team, while also developing strategic business opportunities for Ibupreneur. In Ibupreneur’s 2020-2025 year plan, they aim to train 80 mothers per year and commence nationwide expansion, while also building more demand in its consumer base to ensure long-term income for mothers.
Impact means improving an individual’s quality of life one person at a time, where they can fulfill their basic needs, feel safe with a sense of belonging, possess strong self-respect, and eventually, have the strength to empower another person in our community.
Mohd Adli Yahya’s journey took an inspiring turn when he transitioned from his role as an Executive Director at Standard Chartered Foundation to open a café with a unique mission: teaching youths with autism to be self-reliant and earn a livelihood.
Behind Adli’s commitment lies a personal story—the story of his son, Luqman. Throughout Luqman’s early years, Adli found himself repeatedly defending his son’s behavior. He often had to apologize for Luqman’s repetitive habits, facing individuals who didn’t comprehend the nuances of autism. These encounters frequently culminated in heartfelt apologies from Adli.
Motivated by Luqman, Adli established the Autism Café Project as a remarkable social enterprise. Situated at MIJ International Hub in Kota Damansara, the project instills hope in individuals aged over 17 with autism or special needs. Adli’s vision for the Autism Café Project transcends mere employment; it aspires to create a secure environment for individuals with autism to work and extends a warm welcome to the public, fostering understanding of the condition. Unlike traditional workplaces that employ individuals with special needs, Adli encourages interested individuals to visit the café and engage with autistic individuals. The café serves as a platform for youth with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) to embrace life to the fullest, offering more than just coffee—it provides a range of social activities tailored specifically to youth with ASD.
Adli’s dedication to autism awareness earned him recognition from Bank Rakyat in 2018, where he received an award for his substantial contributions to promoting autism awareness and inclusivity in Malaysia. His work continues to make a profound impact on the lives of individuals with autism, empowering them to achieve independence and dignity while fostering greater awareness and understanding in society.
Making an impact is about opening new windows of opportunity to those in need.
The founder of Tender Hears Cafe, Sharon is a 63 year old single mum and cancer survivor. She has 2 daughters, one of which is a 28 year old special needs with Attention Deficit Disorder. She considers them to be her blessings.
Tender Hearts is a social enterprise founded for special needs youths on 27 December 2016. It is targeted at special needs youths to transition them into independent living and future employment. They have youths of different disabilities including Downs Syndrome, Autistic, ADD, ADHD, Turner Syndrome, Asperger, Slow Learners and Cerebral Palsy. They are self-sustaining through baking cookies as festive and corporate gifts, catering, running a cafe, and participating in events like pop-up stores, bazaars, and arts and crafts. They are constantly looking out for any opportunities for their youths to engage and learn.
Sharon’s passion for charity and community programs stems from her schooling days back in the 1980s where she was involved with Leo Club, a community of youths dedicated to giving back to the community. When she had her daughter, she had a goal to create a platform to provide employment opportunities to special needs individuals, especially those interested in the culinary arts.
Sharon encourages everyone to be more inclusive towards the special needs community and include them in the workforce, as they too, deserve equal rights and opportunities.
Making an impact means championing the rights of the special needs youth for inclusion, acceptance and equality towards a better future for them!
Puan Hanim Binti Apeng is an Orang Asli entrepreneur from the Jakun/Jahut tribe. Born in Baling Kedah on 3rd June 1971 and raised in Perak and Selangor, she is the founder of Asli MakIntan Enterprise.
Hanim’s father is a forest police (or better known as Senoi Praaq). He used to work with the Telekom Malaysia company in the customer service department where he received the Outstanding Work award. He started getting serious about making craft products after he finished his service at Telekom Malaysia. He was appointed as Village Chairman under the Orang Asli Development Department for 2 terms. He works with government agencies and local NGOs to help the local Orang Asli community by providing job opportunities and skills training to generate income. Among the skills are handicraft, whose products include mengkuang mats, pickaxes, chopsticks, replicas of traditional houses, decorative lamps made of bamboo and more. These products are made with various materials from the forest with customised product designs according to customer requests.
Hanim’s knowledge on traditional crafts was passed down by her parents, having followed them into the forest to look for wood and materials for weaving projects when she was younger. She proceeded to hone her craft-making skills, and learnt as much as she could from attending classes and workshops by others. She is now a successful self-made entrepreneur, with her work focusing on producing original Orang Asli handicrafts and homemade soaps, snacks, and upcycled products.
Hanim also serves as a community leader, supporting other Indigenous communities by collecting and selling crafts. She is part of the Weaving Hopes team, an Arts and Cultural response to climate degradation, who empowers Orang Asli youths and women on climate action in global and local spaces.
Making an impact involves doing something with earnestness and sincerity. It involves learning to be independent, and helping the Orang Asli community by raising their standards of living.
Aishwaryaa is the Outreach Lead at MPact Lab, an organisation focused on empowering young individuals to drive social impact in their local communities. She played a key role in the success of the MPower F&B program, an eight-week program, contributing to a 207% increase in revenue for F&B businesses during the pandemic.
Her university years were marked by forming partnerships for student mental health advocacy and engaging in international exchange projects in Japan, leading to positive transformations in local communities. She is passionate about making a meaningful difference through volunteer work and embraces life as an adventure to create lasting change in people’s lives and the world .She embraces life as one grand adventure, always seeking opportunities to create profound change and leave a lasting mark on individuals and the world.
Making an impact is not merely a learned skill but a heartfelt endeavour, stemming from a genuine desire within. It involves empowering others to enhance their lives and initiating a ripple effect of positive change that extends well beyond the initial action. It’s about striving to make each day better than the last, fostering a deep commitment to ensure that every day contributes to a brighter tomorrow.
Albert Wong Tuong Chui’s appointment as the first deaf Chairman of the Sarawak Society for the Deaf marked a groundbreaking moment. With 15 years of experience as a Deaf Teacher at a Primary Deaf School and a Master of Education degree, he has been a tireless advocate for the empowerment of the deaf community.
In his daily life, Albert, who has four hearing children and a deaf wife, communicates using Malaysian Sign Language (BIM). His organisation, founded on the values of courage, confidence, and character, has positively impacted the lives of thousands through various Deaf-led programs and activities over the span of two decades.
As part of his commitment to empowering the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing, Albert actively champions the development of Malaysian Sign Language (BIM) in Deaf Education and the BIM Interpreting service industry. He believes BIM plays a pivotal role in providing the deaf a broader access to early childhood education and empowering them to become independent and confident. His leadership, which prioritises equality and empowerment, has served as an inspiration for countless deaf individuals to pursue their dreams without hesitation.
Under Albert’s guidance, numerous Deaf NGOs in Sarawak, Malaysia, and abroad have thrived, becoming beacons of hope and symbols of progress within the deaf community.
Making an impact is making little differences that will create big impacts in life.
Dr. Tricia Yeoh is the Chief Executive Officer of IDEAS (Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs), previously serving as its Chief Operating Officer. She currently holds the position of Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Monash University Malaysia and Campus Visitor at the Australian National University. Additionally, she serves as a Board Member of the IDEAS Foundation, which operates several autism centers for children from low-income households.
Dr. Yeoh earned her PhD in Political Science from the School of Politics, History, and International Relations at the University of Nottingham Malaysia. She was a Visiting Research Fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute at the National University of Singapore (NUS). Dr. Yeoh is the editor of the books “The Spirit of Merdeka” and “The Road to Reform: Pakatan Rakyat in Selangor.” She is also the author of “States of Reform: Governing Selangor and Penang,” a compilation of articles critically examining the policies and programs of the Pakatan Rakyat state governments in Penang and Selangor.
In recognition of her outstanding contributions, Dr. Yeoh was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal (Pingat Jasa Kebaktian, PJK) by the Sultan of Selangor in 2011. She has received the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award from Monash University Malaysia, the Postgraduate Award Prize for 2020/21 from the University of Nottingham, and the Malaysian Australian Alumni Council’s Female Alumnus of the Year in 2022. In 2023, she was honored with the 25th Anniversary Alumni Award from Monash University Malaysia.
Dr. Yeoh is a frequent speaker and writer on national public policy and political issues and has been featured in prestigious outlets such as The Economist, CNN, Al-Jazeera, Bloomberg, and CNBC, among others. Her writings can be found on various national and international news platforms, including Channel NewsAsia, as well as academic websites like New Mandala and East Asia Forum. You can explore her work at www.triciayeoh.com.
In her limited spare time, she practices yoga and is a trained yoga instructor, although this is becoming increasingly scarce due to her responsibilities caring for her two young daughters.
Making an impact means ensuring public policies work effectively for all communities living in Malaysia. A nation that is well-governed on the principles of the rule of law and public accountability should ultimately see its people experience an improved quality of life. If society can live in greater peace, prosperity and freedom, I would consider having made an impact in the lives of many.
Mark Chai passionately believes that education should be accessible to every child, regardless of their background. He serves as the President of Rainbow of Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children.
Two decades ago, Rainbow of Hope was founded with the goal of providing literacy classes to stateless children, starting with only eight students. Over the years, this number has grown to over two hundred.
During the pandemic lockdown, the conventional method of bringing students to the learning center became unfeasible. With visionary leadership, Mark elevated the twenty-year-old organization by relocating the literacy program to the settlements where the children reside. Furthermore, he introduced Skill Empowerment Programs and Crucial Food and Medical Relief Programs, ensuring a holistic approach to supporting stateless communities.
Today, Rainbow of Hope operates six learning centers in different locations, offering a comprehensive range of support to the stateless population. Rainbow Of Hope continues on its journey with a mission to serve as a beacon of hope for stateless communities, illuminating the path towards a brighter future.
Making an impact is about leaving a legacy of kindness, compassion, and progress, where my actions inspire others to make a difference as well.
Aliya Ashiqin is a co-founder of StandUp Malaysia, who embarked on a journey to find purpose in life and make a difference in society. She pursued her academic interests by studying Politics and Government Studies at the University Malaysia Sarawak, where she volunteered for human rights activities and developed her interest in that field.
Aliya recognizes that change can begin with small steps. Therefore, along with her co-founder Rheanne, Aliya established StandUp Malaysia, a platform dedicated to effecting positive change in 2018. Their approach involves using social media to raise awareness and spark conversations about women’s issues, especially on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Concurrently, Aliya was also influenced by the #MeToo movement, where women began to speak up against any violations inflicted upon them.
Driven by her dedication to human rights and the pursuit of justice, Aliya furthered her education by pursuing a second degree in Legal Studies at Universiti Teknologi Mara. Her intention was to deepen her knowledge of the law, particularly in the context of human rights.
Currently, Aliya works as a full-time Senior Research Analyst while also dedicating her time to her three feline companions and volunteering with StandUp Malaysia. In this capacity, she oversees various activities and training programs aimed at educating the younger generation about the critical issues surrounding SGBV.
Making an impact to means making both big and small positive contributions regardless of where they lead, in pursuit of lasting change toward a better world for all.
Lim Sheng Feiyan (a.k.a. Faye) is a Malaysian Social Artist who believes in the values of honoring her country by showcasing the uniqueness, strength, and beauty of everyone as Malaysians through art, food, and culture.
Faye earned her Diploma in Advertising & Graphic Design from The One Academy Communication Design, Malaysia, and has worked for more than 8 years in various roles such as Creative Director, Graphic Designer, Digital Photo Restoration Specialist, and Digital Portrait Painter for many of Malaysia’s Royal Families and VIPs at Canvas Art Sdn. Bhd, where she currently serves as the Managing Director.
After witnessing numerous challenging events in Malaysia, Faye embarked on a journey by founding TRP CREATIVES, a social enterprise focused on inspiring and driving social change through creativity. It was here that ‘The Rojak Projek’ was born. The Rojak Projek is an initiative dedicated to fostering positive understanding and awareness of Malaysia’s unity, culture, and diversity through creativity. It actively involves youths to empower and drive change throughout the nation.
Faye’s vision is to become globally recognized as the leading social artist who has forged deeper connections with people and initiated a positive impact by highlighting the beauty of Malaysian people, food, and culture through art, inspiring individuals worldwide by 2027.
Making a positive impact happens when there is a shift from negative to positive in any situation. It means that through my work, there is improvement and the result of my work has changed a person or community. Through The Rojak Projek’s work with the help of the community, the impact becomes more meaningful and significant because Malaysia is never the same if we are not together.
Malaysia tak sama, kalau kita tak bersama.
Wen Di Sia is a writer and researcher with a keen interest in indigenous arts and culture, particularly focusing on topics such as indigenous knowledge, cosmologies, and eco-critical thoughts. Her works have been selected for the VOICES 2017 workshop at the Georgetown Literary Festival and the 2018 Far East Film Festival Campus.
In 2018, Wen founded GERIMIS, a collaborative artistic and archiving collective that collaborates on artworks and cultural content with indigenous Malaysian (Orang Asli) artists and artisans. The GERIMIS Art Project aims to reestablish a connection with Malaysia’s Orang Asli (OA) and their histories and traditions through the lens of arts and culture that celebrate, while delving into the inner world and way of life of the OA.
The art collective primarily collaborates with Orang Asli who are already leading their own efforts in promoting and preserving their arts, culture, and traditions. Through exhibitions, publications, workshops, and talks, GERIMIS advocates for the Orang Asli’s customary territories and the return of these lands to their custodianship.
Making an impact is shattering perspectives and creating pathways to new ways of seeing, understanding, and carrying oneself in the world that is compassionate, kind, and caring to the earth.
Mohamad Sazali Shaari serves as the President of the Malaysia Federation of the Deaf (MFD), a self-funded NGO that operates by and for the Deaf community. He stands as one of Malaysia’s pioneers, actively advocating for the Deaf and championing inclusivity and accessibility. His contributions include playing a key role in the creation of Malaysian Sign Language books, encompassing a vast vocabulary of more than 10,000 signs.
Mohamad Sazali Shaari has been a sought-after speaker, participating in talk shows, forums, discussions, and meetings at national, regional, and international levels, addressing topics related to the Deaf community and Sign Language. He holds the distinction of being among the first group of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) in Malaysia to be selected for the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, operating under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development. Furthermore, he has served as an advisor for the Ministry of Domestic Trade, and Consumers, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Education. In the past, he was an advisor for special students at Premier Polytechnic Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah.
In recognition of his contributions, Sazali was appointed as the Medicine Ambassador for the Ministry of Health this year. In 1993, he was chosen to represent the Asia Pacific Region of the World Federation of the Deaf as a United Nations Panel of Experts for disability issues. His dedication was further acknowledged when he received the Disabled Persons of the Year award in 2002. He previously held the position of secretary for the Asia Pacific Deaf Sports Confederation. Currently, he serves as the Secretary General for the Global Deaf Muslim Federation and as the Vice Chairman of the ASEAN Disability Forum. In addition to these roles, he is a certified trainer for the Human Resource Development Corporation, specializing in Disability Related Service Training, Disability Equality Training, Malaysian Sign Language, and Deafness.
Making an impact means making the community worthwhile.
In his role as the director of Urban Mechanics, Daniel Lim spearheads the placemaking practice at Think City. Over the past decade, he has been at the forefront of pioneering projects aimed at activating and enhancing the quality of public spaces. His efforts have also focused on fostering community engagement in urban development endeavors across Penang, Johor, and Kuala Lumpur. Beyond placemaking, he is a strong advocate for social inclusion and community involvement in culture-driven urban regeneration initiatives.
Daniel’s dedication revolves around ensuring that individuals from diverse backgrounds have equal access to the city, including quality public spaces, services, and the opportunity to actively shape their urban environment. Whether through initiatives like laneway improvements, community grants, or collaborative programs with local authorities, his ultimate goal is to promote inclusivity and sustainability through participatory processes.
Daniel embarked on his journey as a young executive in Think City’s founding team and has since played a pivotal role in expanding its placemaking practice, establishing Think City as synonymous with placemaking in Malaysia. His work has helped localize the global Placemaking movement through Think City programs and projects in various cities across the region, including Cebu and Hyderabad.
In addition to his role, Daniel holds an associate membership with the Malaysia Institute of Planners and is a founding committee member of Placemaking Malaysia. He is also a dedicated advocate for the global Placemaking X network.
Making an impact is about catalysing positive change—whether in an entire city, or for one single person. Any gesture, no matter how small, can make an impact as long as it starts with empathy and is executed with sincerity.
When Chen Li was younger, she had an idea, “What if we had a place for old folks and orphans to live together? Wouldn’t it be good? The adults would have children to keep them company, and the children would have adults who dote on them.” This was her earliest memory of a desire to find a meaningful way to solve a social issue.
Chen Li came from a small town in Melaka, Malaysia. She was the second child of four siblings in a tight-knit family. She recalls that having McDonald’s was a luxury to her, and it required her mother to take a bus to town just for her and her siblings to have a treat. Growing up, Chen Li did not have much, but she found herself drawn to give whenever possible. In college, she remembers crossing a pedestrian bridge daily where women and their children would ask for help. She gave them what she usually had left. Sometimes, she’d end up with RM10 to last her a week. So, she started avoiding the route because she questioned if there was a better way to help them. It was a challenging position to be in and she didn’t have an answer.
After working 5 years in a digital agency, Chen Li realised that her best ideas were for corporate social responsibility projects because she knew real lives could be impacted positively. If she wants to make an impact, she must be willing to do it herself. So, she started pro-bono work for SUKA Society for a year before joining them full-time. In 2021, Chen Li moved to Akar Umbi Society to start community-building and community-bridging work with the grassroots communities. She has always felt that she was meant to serve Malaysia. Chen Li believes that her country can rise above the challenges and thrive as a nation if we invest in our people.
To me, making an impact means intentional and deliberate steps taken to make a difference. I wholeheartedly believe that no impact is too small to be made and everyone can make an impact.
Anita first met a (Afghan) refugee when she was 11, an encounter that would influence her career choices in the future. Upon completing her law degree, Anita worked in the private sector, during which she began to look for opportunities to volunteer. This led to Anita joining Mercy Malaysia as a volunteer in Afghanistan for 3 weeks, before being employed as Mercy’s first full time staff, as country manager in Afghanistan coordinating humanitarian projects. This was followed by missions in Syria, Iraq, Cambodia, including serving as country manager in Sudan where Anita oversaw the rehabilitation of a maternity ward and construction of operation theatres in Darfur amongst others. These life changing experiences led to Anita’s desire to build her career in the non-profit sector, including pursuing her Masters’ degree in Social Development as a Chevening scholar.
Anita had a short stint with UNHCR, before joining UNDP, where she facilitated policy research and advocacy projects on persons with disabilities, gender equality, indigenous people and peacekeeping training. Anita then joined Yayasan Hasanah as a founding team member, where she shaped and led its community development and humanitarian response strategies, as well as supported the capacity building of the non-profit sector ecosystem and various multi-stakeholder partnerships, such as the Government Linked Companies “Demi Rakyat & Negara” initiative (GDRN), which seeks to coordinate social impact initiatives at scale. Always in pursuit of knowledge, Anita also became an Eisenhower Fellow during this time. At present, Anita is the CEO of Yayasan MySDG, which was incorporated in 2022 to support the Government of Malaysia in mobilising resources to accelerate the SDGs while leaving no one behind, including coordinating with the United Nations and the Ministry of Finance on the ‘Malaysia-UN SDG Trust Fund’ which provides grants for projects aligned to the SDGs.
For me, impact happens when those most in need, and most marginalised are in the driver’s seat of their own development, where they have options available to them to make better choices for themselves and their loved ones. Our role in the non-profit sector is to ensure that we support them by building their capacity to do so.
Reita Rahim, a graphic design graduate, shifted her focus to indigenous handicrafts, particularly those crafted by Malaysia’s Orang Asal in 2004. She founded Gerai OA, a volunteer-driven initiative dedicated to documenting, reviving, repurposing, and marketing indigenous handicrafts, ensuring that 100% of sales go directly to the artisans.
Reita collaborates with a team of 33 volunteers and multiple Village Coordinators, operating pop-up markets within the Klang Valley to provide a platform for indigenous women and elders to earn supplemental income. She also established women’s groups in Orang Asli villages across Peninsular Malaysia and parts of Sabah, enabling them to access micro-funding and training for their own handicraft and culture-related businesses.
Her work extends to fundraising for various essential needs and infrastructure projects, often employing crowdfunding and the “gotong-royong” concept to ensure sustainability. She also leverages social media to raise awareness about the challenges faced by the Orang Asal and their efforts to protect their traditional territories against deforestation, plantations, and dams while promoting their rich culture and achievements to the wider Malaysian audience.
For us, making an impact is helping to solve the problems of our Orang Asal friends. Though it did not start as a conscious goal, our partnership with our indigenous friends quickly raised a necessity for identifying ways in which we can help them solve their problems. They have taught us to see the world differently.
Wan Zuraidah Abu has dedicated her life to serving the deaf community as a sign language interpreter, known as a BIM Interpreter (Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia). She began her journey as a teacher for the deaf and transitioned into interpreting in the early 1980s when there were few who understood sign language, let alone interpret. Currently, she leads the Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia (BIM) Interpreting Services under the Malaysian Federation of the Deaf (MFD).
Her extensive experience includes interpreting for RTM Berita Perdana from 1997 to 2020, after which she shifted her focus to training young BIM Interpreters and expanding news interpreting services to BERNAMA and Astro Awani. Zuraidah holds a Psychology Degree from Wawasan Open University (WOU) and is currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work at University Utara Malaysia (UUM).
Zuraidah’s interpreting work has spanned various levels, from local districts to international United Nations Panel of Expert sessions. Her motivation lies not in seeking fame or fortune but in the satisfaction of knowing that her services facilitate communication for the deaf community. Her dedication led her to instruct BIM Interpreters from MFD to gather and disseminate crucial information about Covid-19 through social media for the benefit of the deaf community in Malaysia.
Making an impact means making a difference. It is to be the eyes and ears for the deaf and enable them to live their lives to the fullest.
Lily Fu is the visionary behind SeniorsAloud (SA), an online community for older adults created in 2008. The community is dedicated to promoting active, healthy ageing and offering assistance to elderly individuals in need. At the age of 70, Lily pursued a Masters in Applied Gerontology, demonstrating her commitment to advocating for the rights and well-being of seniors.
Lily is dedicated to lifelong learning and has volunteered for 10 years with the University of the Third Age (U3A) at UPM, where she promotes short courses for senior citizens. At 72, she received a grant from the Freedom Film Network in 2020 and is behind the documentary ‘Meniti Senja,’ shedding light on the challenges faced by elderly residents in a Muslim care home, raising awareness about their rights to dignified care.
SeniorsAloud emphasises volunteerism as one of its core pillars. In 2020, they produced a calendar featuring inspiring senior role models to raise funds for new bedding for 70 elderly residents in a care home. In 2022, SA published “Our Stories, Our Legacy,” a collection of short stories by senior citizens that serve as memory recalls and conversation starters in group settings and retirement homes. The book’s proceeds were used to provide physio/rehab equipment for an aged care home.
SA’s community services extend to covering the cost of cataract surgery and dementia care, supporting elderly widows with house rental, and assisting blind elderly buskers with the purchase of an amplifier. They also collaborate with NGOs such as Kechara Soup Kitchen and Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation Malaysia, and SA members actively volunteer in surveys and research studies conducted by universities.
Making an impact means being able to see the transformation in the lives of older adults through the activities we organise, the social connections we have enabled, and the positive feedback we have received from them. The healthy numbers on our social media platforms prove that we have made an impact.
Diana Tan Beng Hui hails from the Jakun tribe in Kampung Petoh, Pahang. She is not only the producer of the short film “Selai Kayu Yek” (Roots of My Land) but also a dedicated YouTuber who utilises videos and short films as powerful mediums to champion social change and advocate for the rights of the Orang Asli community.
Creating change is a long-term process. The impact I want to see is where justice can be felt by all humans regardless of nation, religion, and gender. Especially with changes to the Orang Asli issue, I hope there will be social justice for our community in the future.
Adrian Pereira is the Executive Director and co-founder of North-South Initiative (NSI), a Human Rights and Social Justice orientated organisation based in Malaysia. NSI’s mission is to build a society that prioritises social justice via solidarity building (#viralisingsolidarity). At NSI, the social mobilisers team works with marginalised communities from the ASEAN region and beyond to create a competent and resilient movement using critical pedagogy and design thinking. Before setting up NSI, Adrian has worked with 2 UN-accredited international organisations, Pax Romana International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) and Dignity International. Adrian has also been involved in the ASEAN Forum of Migrant Labour (AMFL) since 2012. AFML is the official arm of ASEAN which deliberates on labour migration.
The communities NSI works with include migrant workers, refugees, domestic workers, victims of forced labour, small scale farmers, indigenous youths and people living in conflict zones like Patani and West Papua. This includes cleaning up the global supply chain from forced labour and ensuring Businesses and Governments come up with solutions for human rights violations, including promoting gender justice. Adrian believes that while Malaysia has become the “breeding ground” for forced labour in the global supply chain, it has the potential to be a role model for remedies should there be political will and a clear corporate vision from the business sector to right the wrongs. Some of the current tools and methods used by NSI to engage the Business sector includes helpline systems, smartphone applications, remediation, social audits, workers empowerment, middle management training, data collection and evidence driven digital systems.
Even though NSI is a small & lean entity, they have developed competent migrant and refugee leaders who can document evidence of human rights and labour violations. They have also coached interns and volunteers over the years who now contribute via various CSOs. To be sustainable, they have also established formal working relationships with multiple universities, INGOs, Trade Unions, Supply Chains, and Intergovernmental Organizations to produce critical analysis and policy interventions despite having limited resources.
Impact means facilitating the grassroots and those on the margins to operationalise social justice and integrity values by creating organic intellectuals to map their paths via solidarity building.
Ian Yee is an impact-driven investigative journalist and documentary producer at The Fourth, a not-for-profit media startup he co-founded with five other award-winning journalists formerly from the acclaimed R.AGE team.
Ian and the team have used their investigative skills to not only expose crime and social injustice, but also develop effective impact solutions. They’ve tackled issues including child sexual grooming (“Predator In My Phone”, 2016), human trafficking (“Student/Trafficked”, 2017), and drug trafficking (“The Malaysian Drug Trade”, 2019); leading to legislative reforms, the disruption of criminal operations, and several arrests.
The team’s courageous efforts, especially by its undercover journalists while at R.AGE, have won them over 40 major awards, including multiple Asian Media Awards, World Digital Media Awards, SOPA Awards, Marketing Excellence Awards, and Kajai Awards (Malaysia’s top honour for journalists). They have also been nominated for the prestigious Peabody Awards twice.
Today, The Fourth’s mission is to defend social justice in Malaysia by producing “fearless journalism for justice”, and training aspiring journalists and content creators to do the same.
They run their highly-rated Fourth Academy training programmes at a fully-equipped community studio in Publika (known as the Fourth Creators Studio), where NGOs, activists, and journalism students can also use to produce social impact content for free. In just six months, they have trained nearly 300 aspiring journalists and content creators, and provided paid job opportunities to several of its alumni.
Ian is quick to credit the “incredibly brave, committed, and talented” young journalists he has worked with over the years for their collective success, and is happy to see many of them go on to achieve even more impact in different disciplines.
Ian believes it is also the team’s remarkable work that has allowed him to achieve some level of personal success. He has been selected as an Obama Leader, Acumen Fellow, Bertha Fellow, Gen-T honouree, and UK International Leaders Programme fellow — all of which he firmly believes would not have been possible without them.
He currently sits on advisory boards for the international Environmental Reporting Collective (ERC), and the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Journalism Fund.
I want to say it’s about defending truth and justice and all that; but really, the greatest impact we can make in this world is just to be kind — to others, and to ourselves.
Dr Melati is an Associate Professor of Economics at the Asia School of Business (ASB) and a Research Affiliate at MIT Sloan School of Management. She is an applied microeconomist specializing in research on issues related to informality, pedagogy, entrepreneurship, and the labor market. She heads the ASEAN Research Center at ASB, dedicated to studying impactful topics and communities in Southeast Asia. Additionally, she leads RYSE (Rapid Youth Success Entrepreneurship/Employment Program), a social outreach and research program focused on comprehending and creating interventions for youth employment and entrepreneurship.
Dr Melati has published her work in prestigious academic journals such as the Journal of Refugee Studies and the Journal of Career Assessment, and she has presented her research at academic and practitioner conferences worldwide. Her research focuses on topics with significant public policy implications, particularly concerning vulnerable groups and education. She specifically examines informality-related topics, such as labor market integration of Rohingya refugees, interventions to reduce discrimination against refugees, the potential benefits of the gig economy for refugee workers, and small business owners in the roadside economy.
Throughout her career, she has collaborated on research projects with organizations like the UN Refugee Agency, UNDP, the World Health Organization, SUHAKAM (The Malaysian Human Rights Commission), and the International Detention Coalition. Dr. Melati also serves on the Board of Trustees for Yayasan Chow Kit, a foundation established to assist children from marginalized communities.
Melati earned her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where her research focused on two-sided dating platforms and pricing. Before joining ASB, she held professorial positions in economics at Butler University and Davidson College in the United States. She takes pride in her Penangite heritage.
To me, as an academic, impact means trying to answer research questions that have meaningful applied interest and applications to vulnerable communities. It means putting the pursuit of important answers before the pursuit within a specific field through embracing multidisciplinarity—viewing a topic from multiple academic lenses—and prioritising research dissemination back to the communities that you serve. Impact also means focusing on questions with conclusions that matter and can contribute to data-backed policy making rather than purely intellectual exercises.
Kan is a special education teacher with 8 years of teaching experience at Keningau Vocational College in Sabah.
Despite being originally from Seremban, Kan chose to teach at a vocational school in the rural areas of Sabah since 2012. He is deeply committed to his students and trains them for competitions using sign language in sports and painting. This dedication has resulted in their participation in several innovation contests and the attainment of a significant number of medals.
He continually faces various challenges, including managing his students’ emotions as some of them have difficulty handling and expressing their feelings, which can impact their behavior and responses in the classroom. Through these challenging experiences, he has learned to adapt his teaching styles to accommodate different students’ needs and learning preferences.
Kan is also committed to his students’ well-being and initiated a food project that prepares vegan meals for them to promote a healthier lifestyle with minimal environmental impact. He took this step after discovering that many of his students were either vegetarians or vegans.
His unwavering dedication to his students has earned him the 2023 Special Education Network and Inclusion Association (SENIA) World Changer Award, which recognizes individuals who actively promote inclusion in their communities.
Making an impact is taking care of human and animal welfare and ensuring that all humans have equal rights.
Mukmin Nantang, bekas pelajar teater di Universiti Malaysia Sabah, telah lama menggalas tanggung jawab membela hak masyarakat yang kurang bernasib baik. Beliau mengasaskan sekolah jalanan di Tawau semasa zaman universitinya dan menyimpan harapan untuk membuka sekolah alternatif di kawasan luar bandar.
Hari ini, Mukmin memimpin Borneo Komrad, sebuah NGO yang menyediakan pendidikan kepada kanak-kanak tanpa kerakyatan di Sabah. Organisasi tersebut memulakan projek Sekolah Alternatif, mengajar kanak-kanak kemahiran penting seperti menulis, menjahit, dan memasak dan meningkatkan kesedaran tentang perkahwinan kanak-kanak dan eksploitasi buruh.
Pada tahun 2022, Mukmin, bersama Borneo Komrad dan beberapa pelajar dari Sekolah Alternatif, mengasaskan Sekolah Pemulihan Gam untuk menangani isu sosial yang berleluasa di kalangan kanak-kanak tanpa kerakyatan di Sabah, terutamanya kelaparan. Sekolah itu kini mendidik 20-30 pelajar tentang kebersihan asas, literasi dan seni persembahan.
Melalui pendidikan, usaha dokumentasi, dan melatih pelajar-pelajar untuk hidup berdikari, Mukmin berhasrat untuk menyediakan masa depan yang lebih cerah untuk masyarakat terpinggir ini.
Impak bagi saya adalah sebuah pendidikan yang berterusan dalam membangun alam dan manusia sehingga tertegaknya cita-cita keadilan sejagat bagi mencapai kehidupan yang membahagiakan.
Teoh Min Chia is a food science graduate who recognized how her strengths aligned with the needs of her community. Fueled by her passion for education and the belief that quality education should be a fundamental right for all, she co-founded The Other School.
The Other School is an impact-driven training company that revolutionizes the approach to learning. Min Chia firmly believes that learning, whether for adults or children, should be more engaging and inclusive. Ensuring education for all extends beyond providing access; it also involves meeting learners where they are. Together with The Other School’s team, she has delivered their programs to over 5000 individuals from SMEs, corporate, and private educational institutions. Simultaneously, The Other School supports the employment of full-time teachers in refugee learning centers, positively impacting the lives of more than 200 learners since 2018.
Prior to her current role, Min Chia served as a community builder, fostering community engagement and driving positive social impact through social entrepreneurship initiatives for students and working adults. She also volunteered as a student fellow at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), a fellow at Ashoka ChangemakerXchange, and served as the president of Hands of Hope Malaysia.
In a world inundated with information, Min Chia believes that effective learning should resemble a compelling story or an enthralling performance.
To me, making an impact means establishing a new norm within the community and embracing the process of unlearning and relearning.
Rachael Francis has a passion for improving the quality of life in marginalised communities through education and works with schools and communities to make it a reality.
In 2007, when volunteering as a literacy programme tutor for teenagers, Rachael encountered illiteracy for the first time. Despite growing up in a lower middle-income household to parents who didn’t get to pursue tertiary education, she could read before attending pre-school. Although they couldn’t afford new textbooks, she remembers always having books to read, purchased second-hand.
Realising she could use her privilege for good, she became a teacher. Rachael taught for 3 years under the Teach For Malaysia Fellowship at a rural secondary school in Jengka, Pahang. There, she tried to start a reading programme because many of her students were unable to read basic English sentences. She realised that marginalised students lacked opportunities to compete for a brighter future, thus, she left school with the mission to reach more students.
In 2019, Rachael joined MYReaders. She played a key role in shaping their approach of building capacity and creating ownership in communities they work with, to collectively work together towards longer term impact. When Covid-19 disrupted their programmes, Rachael led the development and delivery of training for parents, teachers and volunteers to support online learning. For the past 4 years, she has worked alongside the organisation’s co-founders, Charis Ding and Tay Sue Yen to achieve the vision that “One day, every child will be able to read”.
Registered in 2015, MYReaders has supported 136 schools and 47 communities, impacted 34,210 students and 1695 parents, and mobilised 850 teachers and 1800 volunteers. Most recently, MYReaders implemented the Bridging the Online Learning Divide (BOLD) Programme sponsored by Yayasan PETRONAS to deliver literacy remediation to 2000 underprivileged students affected by learning loss across 6 states.
For us at MYReaders, it’s about supporting one child, one family, from one community to attain literacy in order to change their life trajectory and outcome. Being literate unlocks so many opportunities in life and empowers an individual to live out their potential.
A traveller and foodie at heart, Alia has a knack for multi-perspective-taking and is always up for a challenge. She has more than 13 years of working experience, mainly in corporate social responsibility, community engagement, and public relations. She believes in educational equity for all and through Malaysian Collective Impact Initiative (MCII), Alia acts as a connector and enabler for schools to improve student outcomes using the collective impact model.
I believe in educational equity, providing opportunities for all children to achieve greatness in their own right. Making an impact means choosing the hard battle of persevering, even when the path is lonely. It’s about building those little wins and letting your work speak for itself, finding ways to stay true to the cause and most importantly, true to your intention.
Shawn is a speaker and doer of change in Education since his high school years. He was awarded a full scholarship as an Ambassador to the Anthony Robbins Foundation Global Youth Leadership Summit in San Diego, California in 2013.
It was after his STPM when he took on a job as a tutor for underprivileged children that he realised the prevalent gaps in the Malaysian education system. Not all children are able to access learning opportunities and some children are more privileged than others due to their socioeconomic backgrounds. This drove Shawn to do more in the Malaysian education space and narrow that gap of education inequity.
Shawn pursued a Bachelors in Social Sciences majoring in International Relations at University Malaysia, Sabah, where he teamed up with a few friends to teach stateless children at a school serving the local community in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Upon graduating, he was still convicted in his calling to teach, so after working as a Project Coordinator for a year, he joined Teach For Malaysia’s Fellowship program where he is now serving in an all Orang Asli public school in the interiors of Gerik, Perak, teaching science and music to the Orang Asli children of the Temiar and Jehai tribes.
Shawn’s work in education has always been in enabling more learning opportunities for children, especially those who are marginalised. He hopes that through his work he is able to help students realise their own potential and have a capacity to dream and achieve their goals with confidence.
Making an impact requires a collective effort and I strongly believe that everyone has a part and can play a part in making a difference. All it takes is a desire to bring change, and that will motivate you to be the change.
Alina is the co-founder and CEO of Arus Education, an education social enterprise that offers engaging and exciting learning experiences through a multi & interdisciplinary approach. Arus’ programme covers Financial, Media and Information, and Digital Literacies with Global Citizenship Education themes for teachers and students to explore learning in real-world contexts. Arus has impacted more than 200,000 students and 100,000 teachers across Malaysia, and their learning content has over a million views.
With ten years of teaching experience, Alina has poured her knowledge into teaching, innovative content development and teacher coaching, focusing on high-need schools and marginalised communities, including the stateless community in Malaysia. Throughout her time at Arus, she led a nationwide initiative to promote Global Citizenship Education (GCED) by developing project-based learning resources for teachers and students as part of Arus’ collaboration with the Ministry of Education & UNICEF Malaysia. In 2020, as part of the COVID response in education, she led the development of Komuniti Guru Digital Learning to support and help teachers transition to online teaching and learning. This effort was mentioned in UNICEF’s Innocenti Research Brief 2020, “Promising practices for equitable remote learning: Emerging lessons from COVID-19 education responses in 127 countries”. She is currently leading the financial literacy movement at Arus, which has reached more than 30,000 students this year and oversees the initiatives for STEM, Media and Information Literacy projects under Arus.
In 2021, Tatler named Alina one of Asia’s Most Influential Malaysian Educators. She has also represented Arus & Malaysia at various national and international events to share innovation in education, including TEDx, Khazanah MegaTrends Forum and Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.
Alina has a degree in Actuarial Science from the University of Illinois and a post-graduate diploma in Education from Universiti Utara Malaysia.
Making an impact means seeing my students be brave and informed to advocate for themselves, seeing the teachers I work with be inspired and continue to be part of our learning community, and seeing our alumni returning to continue the work we started.
Nehemiah is a Tunku Scholar and a Year 3 Electrical and Electronics Engineering student from UNITEN who co-founded ‘The EduLab’ with 4 other passionate changemakers to build a social enterprise that aims to improve English proficiency among Malaysian students, especially in the B40 community.
The purpose of Edulab is to close the gap between the urban and rural communities. As such, they developed the ‘Zing! English Card Game’, using a game-based learning approach to help children stay engaged with learning English. The impact of this learning approach is tangible, with over 850 children from 15 government primary schools – including Chinese schools, Tamil schools, and six tuition centres within the Klang Valley area benefiting from the programme and experiencing great gains in their English literacy. The initiative has garnered recognition from esteemed organisations like the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI), McKinsey and Co. and the U.S. Department of State.
With his impactful work in ‘Zing! English Card Game’ and ‘The EduLab’, Nehemiah won the prestigious Diana Award in 2023, which was established in memory of Princess of Wales, Diana, and awarded to youths aged 9 to 25 for going above and beyond in their lives to create and sustain positive change and to recognise their social actions or humanitarian work.
“To me, ‘making an impact’ refers to having a significant and constructive impact on people, groups, or the entire globe. It entails making a lasting and constructive impact on people’s lives or the environment through acts, ideas, innovations, or assistance that contribute to positive change. It’s about leaving the world a little bit better off than I left it, even if just a little.”
Nazmi Rosli is an educator who has held a range of positions, spanning from classroom teaching to overseeing student affairs in the remote regions of Sarawak. Presently, he serves as the Senior Assistant of Student Affairs at Sekolah Kebangsaan Long Sebangan in Lawas.
In his free time, this committed educator actively supports the rural communities, specifically the 13 villages in Kampung Long Sukang. Nazmi demonstrates his resourcefulness by crafting teaching materials from recycled materials for use in his classroom.
Throughout the pandemic, Nazmi spearheaded the groundbreaking FIRST Homework Delivery system in Malaysia, ensuring the delivery of learning modules to 111 students across 13 villages. His innovative approach not only caught the attention of the Ministry of Education but also inspired them to implement an Offsite Learning Mode during the pandemic, setting a precedent that influenced many other rural schools in Malaysia to adopt a similar approach. The initiative was featured in the award-winning docufilm “Malaysia VS Covid-19 #kitajagakita.” It also earned Nazmi the prestigious SEAMEO Innovative Teaching Video Award. The initiative also led to the creation of the telemovie “Cikgu Daniel,” broadcasted on RTM2.
In 2021, Nazmi played a vital role in building a Floating Library in Kampung Luagan to address school closures caused by massive floods in Sarawak.
Currently, Nazmi is involved in Filpen Club, a social-entrepreneurial club that produces short films to fund schools and address social issues in the district. The club has won numerous short film competitions, gained international recognition, and even won the Best Social Entrepreneur award in Malaysia in 2022. In 2023, it represented Malaysia at the T4 World Best School competition and achieved a remarkable Top 5 ranking in the Malaysia Chapter.
Making an impact is making a difference in the lives of others.
Sharmila Sekaran is a senior litigation lawyer, child rights advocate, and Voice of the Children co-founder & chairperson. An advocate & solicitor by day, Sharmila is one of Malaysia’s most dedicated legal advocates to protect the rights of children. By night, Sharmila’s fearless policy & legal analysis have set the record straight on Astro Awani, Malaysiakini, the Malay Mail, Free Malaysia Today, Sky News, the Washington Post, and more.
Making a difference in the life of even one person, and creating a positive outcome no matter how big or small, is making an impact. It is the ripple effect that matters.
Born on August 26, 1983 in Penang, Nicol is considered the greatest squash player of all time. Some of the records she holds include: World No.1 for 108 consecutive months, the longest reigning World No.1 squash player, 8 times World Champion, 10 times Asian Champion, 2 Commonwealth Gold medals and 5 Asian Games Gold medals. She was crowned the greatest athlete of all time in World Games history 2021, and is considered one of Malaysia’s most trusted personalities.
Her upcoming mission is to give back to the next generation. In June 2022, she launched her non-profit organisation, The Nicol David Organisation, in Kuala Lumpur, with the mission of empowering girls and boys through sport and education. She provides an after school programme that includes Squash and English tutoring to low and mid income children, where she serves as the Head Coach. The programme currently has 120 children, and her dream is to see it expand all around Malaysia and reach 5,000 children.
She has been awarded an Honorary Masters in Arts by Nottingham University in 2006, Doctorate in Science from University Sains Malaysia in 2019, and recently, an honorary doctorate by Heriot-Watt University in 2022 as Doctor of the University.
Her other involvements include Academy Member for Laureus and National Goodwill Ambassador for UNDP Malaysia. In 2023, she was appointed Deputy Chef de Mission and will be leading the Malaysian contingent to the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Making an impact is to give back to the next generation of my country because I want to share everything that I gain in my career through competing professionally and life experiences with children, in hopes that they may create their own journey in their lives, and create an impact on their future.
Ang Shu Yi set out on a mission to uplift individuals facing similar circumstances as her in the B40 community. Despite holding a degree in Biomedical Sciences and initially pursuing Breast Cancer Research, she felt a different calling. Shifting her focus to education, she devoted two years to teaching English in a suburban industrial area of Johor, courtesy of the Teach For Malaysia Fellowship. Her commitment to driving change extended far beyond the confines of the classroom.
Today, Shu Yi flourishes as a Product Owner for an education platform at a Telco company. However, her impact reaches well beyond her professional endeavours. She leads Impian Kencana, a non-profit organisation she founded to nurture children from low-cost flats and offer them opportunities to break free from the cycle of poverty.
Her remarkable journey stands as a testament to the power of perseverance and an unyielding commitment to uplift others. It vividly illustrates how impactful change can be realised within a community.
Making an impact means steadfastly supporting those in need, regardless of their ability to repay. It’s about going above and beyond to empower them with opportunities that enable them to shine and break free from the cycle of poverty. The true measure of impact is when individuals become empowered to help others, creating a sustainable ripple effect.
In 2020, Maheswari Jaganathan was recognised as one of Malaysia’s top 20 exceptional leaders committed to driving social change. She is part of a global network of over 1000 changemakers who champion social justice in their communities through moral leadership.
With 22 years of nursing experience and a position on the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Malaysia, Maheswari specialises in patient navigation, needs assessment, lymphedema therapy, oncology care, palliative care, and end-of-life care nursing. After working at King Salman Armed Forces Hospital in Tabuk, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for nearly 5 years, she joined Cancer Research Malaysia (CRMY) in 2011. Here, she established a pioneering collaboration with Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah, Klang, and the Ministry of Health to create Malaysia’s first hospital-based Breast Cancer Patient Navigation Programme (PNP) in 2015, overcoming significant resource challenges.
In 2019, Maheswari and the CRMY team expanded PNP to three more state referral hospitals in Seremban, Kuching, and Kota Kinabalu. They are set to establish additional hospital-based navigation centres in collaboration with the Ministry of Health Malaysia in 2023. Additionally, her team is piloting a program in primary care and working to create agents of change through community-based interventions in Serian District, Sarawak.
Through her collaborative efforts, patient navigation has become a key focus area in Malaysia’s National Strategic Cancer Control Plan 2021-2025. Maheswari and her team are on a vital mission to reduce late-stage presentations among Malaysian breast cancer patients.
Making an impact is doing meaningful work with people, encouraging like-minded individuals, working collaborators, stakeholders, funders, local leaders, and the community to be part of our work. I believe all of us have a purpose in life, and we are all one connection away from something incredible.
Cindy Chew is the Director of Community Development at Thrive Well, where she oversees community mental health programs focused on enhancing mental health literacy, reducing stigma, and nurturing mental health ambassadors within communities. She holds certifications as a Transformative Coach from Coach Masters Academy and as an HRDC/PSMB TTT Certified Trainer.
With a background in Mathematics and Economics from the London School of Economics, Cindy spent seven years working as an economist at Bank Negara Malaysia before transitioning into her current role. At Thrive Well, she contributes to social policy and development, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of both individual and community dynamics and involving collaboration with various stakeholders.
As a dedicated mindfulness practitioner and facilitator, Cindy is enthusiastic about creating a supportive environment for people from all walks of life to explore their potential and embrace self-discovery. She frequently conducts mindfulness-based training for diverse audiences, including youths, adults, corporate sectors, NGOs, and the general public.
Cindy has also shared her insights and experiences in community mental health work on various platforms, including appearances on BFM Business Radio Station, participating in Youth Policy Case Competition, and her involvement in the Selangor State Panel Discussion series.
Making an impact means doing the best I can with the best interests of others at heart and making a difference in their lives. Personally, I aspire to provide a safe space for people to discover themselves and break free from the barriers that hold them back.
Harith Ridzuan, also known as Harith Green Carpenter (HGC), specializes in the manufacturing of sustainable lifestyle products. As a second-generation leader, Harith has led his family-founded business from tradition to innovation and has been dedicated to producing eco-friendly wood products since 2012.
As a result of this business transition, his brainchild ‘The Green Factory’ has garnered local and international attention for its commitment to sustainable manufacturing. This recognition includes Japan’s 2018 Good Design Award, the 2018 Europa Sustainability Award, the 2019 MTCC Sustainability Awards for Product Innovation & Diversification Award, and the 2022 Malaysia Timber Council Industry Award for Environment & Sustainability Distinction.
Under his guidance, Harith’s organization currently manages three eco brands and has exported products to over 20 countries. He has also been invited to speak to various stakeholders, including youth, academics, corporates, industry leaders, architects, designers, and local business owners, all seeking to explore the sustainable route. He continues his mission to advocate for Malaysia’s commitment to a greener future.
Making an impact to me means using my skills and creativity to create beautiful and sustainable products that have a positive impact on the environment and society. It is to inspire others to think about sustainability in a new way and to show that it is possible to create awesome things without harming the planet.
Andrew Sebastian is an accomplished naturalist, environmentalist, and certified professional nature and bird guide with 20 years of experience. He is a vocal commentator on various environmental and ecotourism issues in the mass media, having been quoted over 400 times spanning two decades. Andrew actively leads bird and wildlife tours in Malaysia, Borneo, and the surrounding regions, including Sulawesi, Sumatra, and Papua.
A law graduate, Andrew has dedicated more than two decades to environmental and ecotourism issues through his work with numerous NGOs. He attributes his passion for nature to his childhood spent growing up in the dense forests of the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM).
Andrew has initiated and served in numerous conservation and awareness campaigns, including the landmark protection of the Royal Belum State Park in 2006. He is also a co-founder of the Asian Bird Fair Network, which has grown to become one of the largest bird-watching events in the world. Additionally, he co-founded the Wild Bird Club of Malaysia (WBCM) and the Tangkoko Bird Club. Andrew is recognized as a major influencer in the conservation field and currently serves as the brand ambassador for Leica and the leader for Sony Malaysia.
Andrew holds the position of President and CEO of Ecotourism & Conservation Society Malaysia (ECOMY) and has been a subject matter expert for Tourism Malaysia for over 12 years. He also serves as an Ambassador for Leica Sports Optics and Sony Camera.
Making an impact is influencing lives positively to mankind and the natural world.
Chung Ngin Zhun is the visionary behind Rhodomaxx Sdn Bhd, a pioneering seaweed bio-refinery company headquartered in Sabah. His mission revolves around revolutionizing the local seaweed industry to provide innovative solutions across the ESG sector, spanning agriculture to plastic alternatives.
Chung is deeply committed to steering the world toward a circular bio-based economy. His educational background, culminating in a degree from the HAS University of Applied Sciences with a specialization in the bio-based economy, has equipped him with a profound understanding of the imperative to cultivate a sustainable economy while yielding a net positive impact on the environment.
Furthermore, the abundant locally grown seaweed in Sabah led him to recognize the potential of seaweed as a fundamental component of the circular economy. This realization inspired him to establish Rhodomaxx. The company’s pioneering innovations are designed to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with animal and crop production by developing seaweed-based biostimulants and feed supplements.
Rhodomaxx is also dedicated to the creation of seaweed bio-plastics, offering a sustainable solution to the issue of plastic pollution through the production of biodegradable plastics. Their core belief centers on harnessing the boundless potential of the ocean by crafting products that prioritize circularity, thereby establishing a closed-loop system that begins and ends with the ocean.
Making an impact is providing solutions to existing problems.
Ong Ning Geng, known affectionately as Ning, is the visionary behind Chocolate Concierge, a venture founded on the principles of social and environmental sustainability. In his view, crafting the most delectable chocolate requires the seamless integration of justice and fairness into every aspect of production. This commitment extends from active community engagement to environmental conservation and permeates all operational processes. Ning has embarked on a mission to uncover the essence of Malaysian cacao, collaborating with the custodians of cacao trees—the indigenous communities (Orang Asli). With these precious beans, he takes chocolate from ‘farm’ to table, with a deliberate focus on preserving the distinct flavors unique to their origins.
Ning draws profound inspiration from the agroforestry model embraced by indigenous communities. In his own farms, he reveres and practices this symbiotic relationship with nature, where a vibrant array of durian, cocoa, and native trees coexist, bolstering ecological harmony. His dedication lies in safeguarding Malaysia’s invaluable cacao heritage while nurturing a sense of unity and shared growth with the communities engaged in its cultivation. In this endeavor, Ning aspires to contribute to a more equitable and sustainable cacao industry—one that reveres the environment, values every community, and cherishes the authentic flavors of its origins.
“Making an impact” means fostering a profound and enduring positive change within local communities by preserving the ecology and biodiversity, and promoting sustainable agricultural practices. Thus, allowing for mutual growth and the conservation of invaluable, unique cacao varieties and their distinctive flavours. Making an impact also entails the creation of a transparent and socially responsible F&B industry that values every contributor, respects ecological balance, and nurtures a symbiotic relationship between human beings and nature.
Chef Dave is a Vegan Chef dedicated to veganizing traditional Malaysian cuisine, aiming to demonstrate that adopting a vegan lifestyle is more accessible than one might think.
In 2021, he established D’Vegan Academy, the first Malaysian Plant-Based Cuisine Academy, with the goal of educating and assisting Malaysian home cooks in acquiring knowledge and skills related to Malaysian plant-based cuisine. He has since successfully conducted over a hundred online classes and workshops. Additionally, he founded ChefDave VeganJourney, a social enterprise committed to advocating the Vegan lifestyle and Animal Rights through social media content on Vegan food, life, and travel. Furthermore, he was a founding member of the Plant-Based Healthy Alliance, a Malaysian social enterprise dedicated to facilitating the transition to a plant-based diet to improve people’s health.
Before these endeavors, Dave garnered a decade of experience working with esteemed companies in the industry, including Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, and the Disney Cruise Line. In 2020, he embraced a Vegan lifestyle in solidarity with animals and subsequently emerged as an influential advocate for plant-based living in Malaysia.
Simultaneously, Chef Dave disseminates his message of veganism through livestreams, pre-recorded videos, ambassador programs, training, and classes offered to fellow Malaysians. He boasts a following of 2.1 million across all his social media platforms.
Making an impact, to me, means witnessing people being inspired and transformed by what I do, even if it’s just one person.
Lau Chai Ming, professionally known as Edmund, is a coral reef ecologist by training, having graduated from Universiti Malaya with a BSc in Ecology and Biodiversity, and an MSc in Marine Ecology and Biodiversity.
In 2018, Edmund, alongside Liew Hui Ling, Quek Yew Aun, and Serena Adam, co-created Reef Stakes, an award-winning educational role-playing card game centered on the marine environment. This game encourages players to collaborate, navigate conflicts, and determine the fate of a coral reef ecosystem. As players embark on this immersive journey, they grapple with challenges posed by human threats, including destructive fishing, pollution, and coastal development. This initiative gave rise to Reef Spawn, a transformative program aimed at nurturing the next generation of marine environment champions among Malaysia’s youth. Edmund then translated the conceptual idea into the powerful short video animation “Life and Times of Jenah,” which portrays the threats facing the trinity of marine ecosystems: mangroves, coral reefs, and seagrasses. This animation has received multiple award nominations and serves as a testament to Edmund’s dedication to raising awareness about marine conservation.
Edmund’s journey in marine and environmental conservation began in 2005, involving a diverse portfolio that encompasses monitoring and preservation of coral reefs, conducting research with several published articles, fostering community and stakeholder engagement, and igniting public awareness and outreach. Today, his work revolves around project management, crafting strategic programmatic visions, and shaping policies with the aim of safeguarding nature for future generations.
Beyond his professional responsibilities, Edmund volunteers his time as an EcoDiver and EcoDiver Course Director with Reef Check Malaysia. He is also an esteemed alumnus of the Young SouthEast Asia Leadership Initiative (YSEALI), where he participated in notable programs such as the YSEALI Professional Fellow and Seeds for Future Grants. In 2019, his passion and contributions earned him the title of ASEAN Youth Eco-Champion. His remarkable journey continues, with the Lewis Pugh Foundation recognizing him as one of the 2022 Coral Champions.
Making an impact entails having the courage and support to take the first step. While discussions generate ideas, an idea transforms into an impact only when there is initiative, regardless of its scale. Much like a drop of water, irrespective of its size, it has the potential to create ripples.
Bee Ling’s journey into the realm of environmental advocacy was unexpected and transformative. It all commenced when she volunteered at Kedai Jalanan, a distinctive pop-up store in Kuala Lumpur dedicated to serving the homeless community with dignity and respect.
Her close collaboration with Kedai Jalanan unveiled a new world for Bee Ling, one that transcended textbooks and theoretical knowledge. She became profoundly immersed in the lives of the underprivileged. A pivotal moment in this journey transpired when she visited a makeshift “home” of a community member. There, she was confronted with a distressing sea of plastic waste engulfing the surroundings. This experience underscored the stark intersection of poverty and environmental pollution, propelling her to redouble her efforts in addressing these interconnected challenges.
In 2020, fueled by this newfound passion, Bee Ling, along with Chee Lee Yoon, co-founded Hara Makers. The name “Hara” symbolizes a state of having nothing, signifying their mission to enhance the lives of community members. Through Hara Makers, they empower individuals with the tools and resources to devise innovative solutions to the challenges faced within their communities by recycling and upcycling plastic waste.
To date, Bee Ling and Lee Yoon take great pride in their collective achievement of removing nearly 4 tons of trash from Sungai Keroh, training a total of 42 women in plastic and food waste upcycling, resulting in the production of nearly 3000 handmade products.
To me, making an impact means bringing people together, forging strong bonds, and nurturing a sense of belonging. It revolves around collaborative efforts to tackle local challenges, ultimately strengthening and empowering our communities where everyone finds their place.
At present, Will considers his way of living as half farmer, half monk. He is co-founder of FOLO (Feed Our Loved Ones) farm, a community organic vegetable farm feeding nutrient-dense, microbes rich vegetables to families and people in need. These vegetation are powered by compost made from recovering 3 tonnes of kitchen waste per day from Johor Bahru city. Will is also co-creating A Little Wild, Malaysia’s first Syntropic Agroforestry farm bringing soil health and biodiversity back to degraded oil palm land while growing forest and food.
Will’s motivation for setting up FOLO Farm stems from his concern for his loved ones who were suffering from various ailments. Will, who once believed in the conventional business success of profit above all else, realised there is more to life than material wealth. As such, his newfound perspective encouraged him to pursue a more meaningful way of living and being. He made the courageous decision to leave his successful career in international affairs and economic development to embrace a simpler life in order to care for his loved ones.
During this time, his childhood friends also returned to Johor to care for their own loved ones. Recognizing the urgency and necessity of finding an immediate solution to improve their community’s health and well-being, FOLO came into existence.
For Will and his co-founders, the true measure of success lies in ensuring their loved ones are well-nourished, both with healthy food and with a strong sense of community and meaningful connection to nature. These elements, according to Will, are the real wealth in life, and the key to healing and transformation for those who are unwell.
Making an impact means a lifelong practice of peace within ourselves, with our community, and with the Earth – our common Home. It means trusting in the Interbeing of all things, that scientifically nothing is wasted or lost, so we just do our best in the present moment, and trust that it will touch and transform the rest in ways we can, and cannot, imagine.
Justine Vaz is the Executive Director of The Habitat Foundation (THF), the nonprofit arm of The Habitat Group which manages The Habitat Penang Hill, The Nature Discovery Park and A Gateway to The UNESCO Designated Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve. THF has been active since 2017 and is dedicated to advancing environmental conservation and sustainability in the region. Its programme is organised around its pillars of Conservation, Research, Education, Sustainability and Training. Since its establishment, THF has provided strategic grants to numerous projects and causes throughout Malaysia in addition to working on its own Foundation-led initiatives.
The Foundation believes strongly in investing in community-led conservation, habitat restoration as well as sustainable tourism initiatives. Although relatively young, the Foundation leverages on the experience of its managers who are veteran conservation practitioners and have been able to draw upon its extensive network of partners, colleagues, stakeholders, and decision makers for innovative and impactful actions in line with upholding national commitments to addressing climate change and protecting nature.
Justine has degrees in Geographical and Environmental Studies from the University of Adelaide, South Australia. She began her conservation career in Sabah in the mid-90s where she wrote a guide to the (then) little known, Kinabatangan Floodplain. She later worked on developing dossiers for several proposed protected areas in Sabah. In the Upper Padas, she worked with the remote communities to safeguard forest and establish village tourism programmes. Throughout her career, she has continued to work on strengthening the management and sustainable financing of Malaysia’s protected areas, and advocating for greater recognition of community-conserved areas and OECMs (Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures). She is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas.
In her home state of Selangor, together with other residents, she founded the Kota Damansara Community Forest Society in 2011 to partner the government in managing the newly gazetted 800 acre Forest Reserve which had been established following a prolonged public campaign. Society members work on a voluntary basis to support public access for nature education and recreation, while upholding its conservation role. It is a model of public participation which has inspired other like-minded community groups to protect and advocate for nature.
Long before impact, is the quiet, personal decision not to look away and to pursue what is right and needful. Each of us has access to this decision. And with this comes transformations within your sphere of influence. With the challenges of climate change, ecosystem degradation, and biodiversity loss, we are in the fight of our lives. We need millions of these transformations, in ever enlarging spheres, and ideally, with courageous commitments from those with greater power and influence than us. Change comes when we resolve that action is not someone elses responsibility.
Making an impact’ is having the courage to use one’s voice and platform to champion what is right and true whatever the outcome. In Malaysia, we know that nature is critical to human well being and our nation’s ability to face an uncertain future, yet we lose ground to short term objectives and magical thinking of an infinite earth.
It is not too late to turn the tide but this cannot be done alone – a critical mass of informed people from all segments of society and from all sectors must come together to bring about this change.
Yeap Chin Aik graduated from University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), with a Masters of Science in Conservation Biology. He has since been working for the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) for the past 20 years. He is currently the Lead Investigator/Co-Founder of the MNS Hornbill Conservation Project and the Senior Conservation Officer/Project Manager in the MNS Conservation Division in the Secretariat, Kuala Lumpur.
Chin Aik carried out various bird and non-bird conservation initiatives and activities while working for MNS, involving in faunal surveys and monitoring, species-specific action plans, policy, advocacy and multilateral environmental agreements, capacity-building as well as CEPA.
Working with BirdLife, MNS’ international partner, Chin Aik updates the status of globally threatened birds in Malaysia, Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas, and several regional bird-related projects. He is also currently a steering Committee member of the IUCN Hornbill Specialist Group and Lead of the Habitat Subgroup under the IUCN Helmeted Hornbill Working Group.
He has published several articles on various bird conservation on platforms such as BirdingASIA, Malaysian Naturalist, Hornbill, as well as several scientific and policy journals such as, Malayan Nature Journal, Raffles Journal of Zoology, Journal of Raptor Research, Acta Ecologica Sinica, and IUCN Policy Matters. He also presented in various conferences, symposiums, seminars, and workshops of his work, and co-authored four books on bird conservation to date.
Making an impact means putting in long-term, consistent, reliable, sustained, and committed efforts into realising a vision. Often, it is a slow-burning, mundane, and challenging process, unseen by most. But the rewards can be empowering, uplifting and ever so worthwhile.
Khou Jerome is an academic teacher in SJK(C) Union and a co-founder and Chairperson of Green Educators Workgroup Penang (GREW). His passion lies in promoting quality education through Education for Sustainable Development.
Over the years, Jerome has been involved in numerous youth programmes with WWF-Malaysia, which includes organising International Building Bridges for Sustainable Consumption & Production Conference, and representing WWF-Malaysia to Youth Forum in Hong Kong, where he was awarded The Eco-Green Mentor Award twice, and The Proboscis Award of Charisma by WWF-Malaysia.
Recently, he joined the Sidang Muda Programme to voice out on educational issues in the State Assembly. GREW plays important roles in Penang to connect NGOs to schools and guide organisations to conduct impactful programmes to the students. GREW also organised camps, workshops, competitions, as well as campaigns such as, Let’s Clean It Up Malaysia involving more than 10,000 participants from schools all over Malaysia. GREW works closely with Government agencies to collaborate and promote quality and impactful programmes to the schools.
Jerome is also selected by the Ministry of Education to join the Climate Change Education Seminar in Paris 2023. He hopes that his journey in Education can continue to make a difference among the students. He also hopes that all Malaysian schools will cultivate students with sustainable awareness and practices.
Impact means making a difference through the power and ability I have and bringing more people onboard with me to make the world a better place.
Dr. Achier Chung is a distinguished Lead Marine Biologist/Advisor at Reef Guardian Sdn Bhd, where she manages the Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area in Sandakan, Sabah. With 19 years of dedication to marine conservation, education, and research, Dr. Chung has been a driving force in the field.
Her journey with Reef Guardian began in 2004, focusing on reducing human impact on the marine environment by regulating tourism activities and combating illegal fishing practices. She has forged partnerships with local and international organisations to improve marine resource management.
Under her guidance, the Sugud Islands Marine Conservation Area achieved the first IUCN Green List certification in Malaysia in 2022, making it the first marine park in the Coral Triangle Region to earn this recognition. She is a member of the IUCN SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas.
Dr Chung’s leadership extends to enforcement efforts, working closely with local agencies and communities to combat illegal practices like dynamite and sodium cyanide fishing. Her passion and contributions earned her the first Malaysia SeaKeepers award from the International SeaKeepers Society in 2019.
For me, making an impact signifies passionately embracing our actions to the extent that they generate a powerful resonance, inspiring others to pursue what they believe and are passionate about.
Dr. Louisa Ponnampalam is a marine mammal scientist and conservationist committed to advancing the scientific understanding of endangered marine mammals in Malaysia. She co-founded MareCet in 2012, Malaysia’s first and only NGO devoted to marine mammal and habitat research and conservation. She currently serves as Chairperson and Executive Director of MareCet. Working alongside a dedicated team, Louisa has initiated several projects, including the Langkawi-Perlis Dolphin Research Project, Matang Dolphin Research Project, Dugong Research and Conservation Project, Sea, Science and Schools Programme, and the Whales-on-the-Wheels Mobile Marine Exhibition.
In 2014, Louisa became the first Malaysian to receive the Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation from the Pew Charitable Trusts in the USA. The Malaysian government recognized her contributions with the 2014 Anugerah Perdana Belia Negara. She was also a finalist at the inaugural Women of the Future Awards in South East Asia in 2018 and featured in Prestige Malaysia’s 40 Under-40 Honour Roll in 2020. Louisa was one of 100 women cetologists showcased in the American Cetacean Society’s Special Edition Newsletter in 2020. In 2022, she was the 2nd runner-up in the inaugural Blue Water Heroes Award, created by ONE°15 Events Management, powered by Gen.T and Tatler Singapore.
Louisa’s goal is to mentor local researchers who will become future ambassadors for marine mammal conservation and the marine environment in Malaysia through hands-on involvement in MareCet’s initiatives. She leads by example and strives to be a role model, especially for young women, encouraging them to pursue their dreams fearlessly. In her leisure time, she enjoys the outdoors, performing arts, spending time with her pets, chasing sunsets, and showcasing the incredible diversity of Malaysia’s culture and environment.
To me, making an impact is hearing kids say that their participation in MareCet’s initiatives inspired them to take action for Mother Nature. It is to receive a parent’s feedback that MareCet’s educational programme has made a world of difference for their child. It is to hear from a friend’s mother that she is now more selective of the types of seafood she eats because she remembered what I told her about the importance of sustainability.
Adam Farhan is the co-founder of RimbaWatch (formerly known as the Rimba Disclosure Project), a platform dedicated to raising awareness about deforestation in Malaysia. RimbaWatch gained significant recognition following its exposé on the secretive deforestation of 11,000 hectares of forest for a dam project in Ulu Tembeling, Pahang, which has since been cancelled. The organisation has evolved into a climate watchdog, actively monitoring forests, bringing to light environmental and social concerns, and holding both governmental bodies and companies accountable for their actions. Adam’s work with RimbaWatch has attracted the attention of local and international news agencies, ministers, banks, and trade organisations.
Currently, Adam is involved in the Forest and Carbon Tracker initiative with RimbaWatch, which aims to display deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions projects in Malaysia on an interactive map accessible to the public. He intends to use this information to advocate for a Nature, Climate, and Socially-Positive transition, holding companies accountable for greenwashing and promoting the transition from fossil fuels in Malaysia. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Environmental Governance at Oxford.
Within the context of climate activism, making a “real” impact means tackling the “real” problem head-on. This means that if a particular fossil fuel company, state elite, or logging company is harming communities and destroying the environment, we need to explicitly and strongly call them out. We cannot stay silent – our only way out of the climate crisis is to hold these corrupt actors to account to the point where they can no longer continue their harmful activities.
Renard Siew, is a Sustainability and Climate Change Specialist. He serves as the Board of Advisor and Head of Sustainability for CENT-GPS, where he advances the organisation’s work in the fields of Climate Change and Sustainability. In his capacity, he actively leads the organisation’s initiatives addressing the issues of climate change and sustainability. He is also a Presidential Fellow of Malaysia’s National Youth Council.
Previously, Renard was the Co-Chair of the Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management Working Committee and contributed to UNEP-FI’s Collective Commitment on Climate Action. In 2020, he was appointed as an SDG Champion for Climate Action by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Renard is also a WEF Expert Network Group member and is active in the WEF Global Future Council dedicated to SDG Investment. Additionally, he was accepted into the Forbes Fellowship Programme and attended the inaugural UN Climate Action Summit in New York.
Renard is part of the facilitation team at the Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership (CISL). He has shared his expertise through lecturing and has held positions as an Adjunct Professor at various universities.
To me, making an impact means creating a sustainable, equitable and lasting change for the underserved communities.
Prior to getting involved in the textile circular economy, Nik Suzila (Suzy) was working in the bustling media industry. After 10 years in business development, branding, and communications, and attending a world marketing summit in 2013, it dawned on her that a change was inevitable. She realised the value of recyclables, especially textiles and clothing. Together with Sarah Kedah, she founded the social enterprise Kloth Malaysia/ Singapore (Kloth) on 11.12.13. The mission is “Catalysing Circularity” and providing simple solutions in the collection and recycling of unwanted textiles and clothing by creating awareness, installing fabric recycling bins, and ensuring the unwanted items are given a renewed life and purpose. Thus, keeping them away from the landfills and incinerators.
It had been 10 years since she first started Kloth and through collaborations with various organisations under the Kloth Cares movement, there are now more than 600 Kloth recycling bins and the total collection stands at more than 6 million kgs (an equivalent of over 30 million pieces of t-shirts). The social enterprise expanded into Singapore in 2022, and both Suzy and her partner do not plan to stop there, as much still needs to be addressed when it comes to textiles and clothing waste. They have also branched out with Kloth Woman Up, a movement to help alleviate the livelihoods of women in underprivileged, marginalised and vulnerable communities as a means of earning an income. The women are trained in the art of sewing and they use unwanted fabrics to repurpose into usable items such as upcycled carry bags and pouches. As of September 2023, they’ve produced over 30, 000 upcycled items.
Suzy believes that the awareness of the detriments caused by fabric wasting away in landfills and incinerators must continue to spread, as there are no specific policies to address fabric waste. In support of a more sustainable environment, she believes that “the Kloth 5R principles of ‘Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle’ contribute greatly towards the textile circular economy and in keeping textiles and clothing waste away from landfills and incinerators”. What started out as a simple solution has turned out to be one that will go a long way in helping to close the loop. Together with her co-founder, and an all-female team, they will continue this cause passionately.
Making an impact means that you need to believe, commit, and be clear of the problem statement. Then, establish a dedicated team, take action, and measure the environmental and social impact for the targeted communities.
Gurmit Singh is the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Centre for Environment, Technology and Development Malaysia (CETDEM). He has been an active supporter of sustainable living in Malaysia, as well as an advocate for environmental conservation and rehabilitation. For more than 40 years, Gurmit has been reaching out to Malaysians and reminding them of the need to work together to keep the environment clean for future generations.
In 1957, Gurmit enrolled at Methodist Boys School (MBS), where he joined the Georgetown Senior Boy Scout Troop, sparking his interest in nature and the outdoors. Later, he began working at the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia (RRIM), and the experience transformed his life.
While working as an electrical assistant engineer, Gurmit became involved with various social organisations, sparking his strong interest in academic freedom, human rights, and environmental issues. In 1974, he became the President of the Selangor Graduates Society and founded the Environmental Protection Society Malaysia (EPSM).
Gurmit’s activism continued as he became an active member of the Environmental Quality Council in Malaysia, served as the Regional Coordinator of the Climate Action Network Southeast Asia (CANSEA), and contributed to numerous committees and projects dedicated to improving environmental affairs.
His dedication has earned him recognition and awards, including the Langkawi Award in 1993 for his advocacy of environmental issues, the Outstanding Sustainability Contribution Award in 2009 from the Institution of Surveyors, Malaysia, the UN Malaysia Award in 2013, and the Green Catalysts Award in 2015 from Green Technology Corporation Malaysia.
Reflecting on his career, Gurmit cherishes some of his most memorable moments. These include witnessing the growth of energy conservation and renewable energy in the country, the cancellation of the Tembeling Dam project, the increased regularity of Environmental Impact Assessments, the success of CETDEM’s organic farming initiative, and the operation of an energy-efficient and cool terrace house in SS2, Petaling Jaya. Despite being 75 years old, Gurmit Singh remains unwavering in his commitment to Mother Nature. He continues to chair the Board of Directors for CETDEM and serves in various advisory roles.
Making an impact is transforming public perception and seeing positive change in the environment.
Adrian Lasimbang, originating from the Indigenous Kadazan community in Penampang, Sabah, is a prominent advocate for Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Additionally, he is a trailblazing figure in Malaysia’s renewable energy sector, actively involved in creating innovative renewable energy solutions.
Adrian Lasimbang, the former President and Founder of Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), which serves as the umbrella organisation for Indigenous Peoples’ groups in Malaysia, has been an unwavering advocate for Indigenous rights. His tireless efforts aim to enhance their well-being and secure their rightful place in society. Adrian’s advocacy extended to the Parliament, where he served as a Senator from 2018 to 2021, steadfastly championing Indigenous rights and sustainable development.
Adrian is also the co-founder of TONIBUNG, a social enterprise in Sabah committed to improving the lives of rural communities and addressing environmental challenges. With more than two decades of experience, he has been instrumental in implementing micro-hydro and solar mini grids, thus lighting up remote Indigenous villages throughout Malaysia.
Adrian’s impactful work transcends energy solutions; he is involved in training community groups in resource management and safeguarding customary rights. Through TONIBUNG’s CREATE (Centre for Renewable Energy and Appropriate Technologies) center, he empowers Indigenous youth with education and skill development opportunities.
Today, Adrian is the Executive Director of the Right Energy Partnership with Indigenous Peoples (REP), an Indigenous-led initiative. REP’s mission is to expand renewable energy systems while upholding human rights and harnessing Indigenous leadership to create sustainable energy solutions.
Making an impact means contributing positively to the well-being of individuals, communities and the world through sustains actions and initiatives. It involves creating meaningful and lasting change, addressing critical issues, and leaving a legacy that improves lives, promotes sustainability and societal progress. Ultimately, making an impact embodies the idea of leaving the world in a better state through one’s actions and influence, no matter how modest they may seem.
A TED talk by Lauren Singer, where she shared her experience of living a zero-waste lifestyle, changed Khor Sue Yee’s life. She was sold on the idea that it was possible for individuals to live without contributing to overflowing landfills with trash. At the start of her journey towards zero waste, she connected with Aurora Tin, another advocate for a waste-free lifestyle. Aurora invited her to join the Zero Waste Malaysia community on Facebook, a platform dedicated to bringing together like-minded individuals who share their mission and inspire others to do the same.
These environmentally conscious friends took their commitment to the next level by officially registering Zero Waste Malaysia as a non-governmental organization in 2018. Since then, they have been putting efforts to raise awareness about the principles and practices of a zero-waste lifestyle. Their ultimate goal is to make zero waste living and the responsible use of resources a common and accepted practice for all Malaysians.
To me, “making an impact” means living in alignment with my core values and beliefs. Through my actions and choices, I aim to inspire and encourage others to do the same.
Mogesh Sababathy, a dedicated Malaysian Youth Climate Advocate, is profoundly committed to nurturing positive environmental awareness among Malaysia’s younger generation.
Raised on Labuan Island, a prominent tourist destination with a strong connection to offshore financial services and the fishing industry, Mogesh’s environmental journey began at the tender age of 5 when he personally witnessed the harsh reality of ocean pollution. Growing up in close proximity to the ocean, he keenly observed the dynamics of environmental conservation practices in Malaysia, facing challenges such as water scarcity, inadequate waste management, and limited community engagement.
Mogesh’s unwavering determination to contribute to solutions motivated him to co-found Project Ocean
Hope during his marine biology studies at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) in 2017.Recognising the urgent need for universally accessible environmental education, he embarked on a mission to bridge the gap between academic knowledge and public understanding.
Under the banner of Project Ocean Hope, Mogesh and his dedicated team have initiated a series of impactful community projects. These projects are focused on reducing litter and promoting sustainable fishing practices, complemented by ocean literacy webinar series addressing a wide spectrum of marine-related issues. Their collective efforts have left a positive imprint on the lives of over 10,000 individuals spanning 15 different countries. These initiatives have not only fostered community engagement in the realm of ocean sustainability but have also nurtured responsible citizens committed to the preservation of our environment.
Mogesh is the recipient of the the prestigious 2023 ASEAN-India Youth Award, the esteemed 2021 Diana Award, and a Regional Finalist for the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Awards.
Mogesh’s impact extends beyond borders, encompassing international speaking engagements and written contributions focusing on critical issues such as climate change, youth engagement, and sustainability policy recommendations. He represented Malaysia in significant international events such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP), the United Nations General Assembly, the Youth4Climate Summit, and the Our Ocean Conference.
Collaborating as a Youth Climate Champions Consultant with UNICEF, Mogesh leverages his expertise to advance climate projects and contribute to policy development, firmly rooted in his commitment to inclusivity and transformative climate action. Mogesh’s core message is that climate advocacy is not the sole domain of experts but a shared journey where every individual’s dedication matters.
Mogesh aims to show how everything in life is connected to the environment and that even small actions can make a big difference in how society thinks, how policies are made, and the fate of our environment. His message emphasises that each one of us has a responsibility to care for our planet.
Alongside his advocacy work, Mogesh excels academically. He has earned the Royal Education Award and the Dean’s Award. Currently, Mogest is pursuing a fast-track PhD in Molecular Biology and Genetic Engineering at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and is the recipient of the King’s Scholarship (BYDPA).
To me, making an impact means seeing how my actions turn individuals into engaged participants in environmental conversations and advocates for change. I believe that when people work together, it creates a ripple effect that inspires, amplifies, and brings about significant changes in society. This drives my commitment to foster connections and strive towards a world where environmental stewardship is a shared responsibility.
Johnson is a jack of all trades—a serial entrepreneur, community builder, photographer, videographer, Rotarian, and holder of 23 years of corporate experience. He is best known as the founder of KakiDIY, an enterprise dedicated to DIY projects, community engagement, education, and ecosystem development. Additionally, he is the brains behind KakiRepair, a grassroots movement that encourages people to repair rather than discard used items.
Johnson proudly identifies himself as a hardcore DIY enthusiast. Since his youth, he has been engrossed in crafting things with his own hands, often modifying his own toys. Eventually, he realized that his DIY skills could be harnessed for more significant endeavors. At just 19 years old, he embarked on his first DIY Computer Business to finance his education.
Leveraging the skills he honed as a Maker and drawing from his DIY experiences, Johnson successfully transformed his passions for photography, automobiles, and gadgets into a thriving enterprise, KakiDIY. In collaboration with SOLS Group (comprising SOLS247, SOLS Energy, SOLS EDU, SOLS SMART, and ChargeSingh), he has dedicated himself to serving, educating, and empowering communities by providing clean energy solutions to households.
Making an impact is making a difference in people’s life, mindset and community engagement. I believe impact is hard to be done alone, in order to make an impact on society, like-minded people need to collaborate and work together to make a change.
Sharifah Sofia is a multifaceted individual, renowned not only for her acting skills but also for her passionate advocacy work. As a versatile artist, she has graced screens with her talent, captivating audiences with her performances. Simultaneously, she has used her platform to shed light on pressing social issues, embodying the essence of an artist-advocate. Her presence in both the entertainment industry and the advocacy sphere makes her a unique figure, leaving an impactful mark wherever her passions take her.
Sofia was actively involved in turtle conservation, where she scouted beaches for turtle nests, retrieved the eggs, and transported them to a hatchery to protect them from poachers and natural predators. After 40 to 60 days, when the eggs hatched, the baby turtles were released into the sea.
Additionally, Sofia has participated in numerous mangrove replanting programs along coasts and riversides in various states across the country. She was an enthusiastic volunteer in a local river clean-up initiative in Ara Damansara, Selangor, where she and other volunteers would regularly clean the river. All the plastics collected were then recycled using a homemade recycling machine to create useful and functional everyday items.
Sofia firmly believes that there should be more environmental programs in schools. Young adults, teenagers, and primary school students are the future generation, and they should be educated about climate change and encouraged to take measures to protect their ecosystem.
I view ‘impact’ as the ripple effect of my actions, wherein each drop I contribute creates waves of positive change in the world around me.
After a lifetime of grappling with mental health challenges and faced with multiple misdiagnosis, Beatrice Leong was diagnosed with autism at the age of 35. This diagnosis and realisation brought about a profound clarity to the lifelong struggles she had endured in trying to understand who she is as a human.
As a late-diagnosed autistic woman, Beatrice possesses a unique perspective and firsthand experience, allowing her to empathise with the complex challenges faced by girls and women seeking diagnosis and support. This experience had led Beatrice to be a founder of an autistic-led advocacy group, AIDA (Autism Inclusiveness Direct Action Group) to further champion inclusion and self-representation of the autistic community within the society, and lobbying autistics as an active participant in making policies that shape their lives.
A filmmaker and a social entrepreneur, Beatrice is driven by her insatiable curiosity and passion for new experiences and stories. An open book about her experiences, she now dedicates her life to reframing our understanding of autism, particularly in girls and women. She envisions a society that embraces differences and advocates for meaningful participation and inclusion of autistic individuals across all levels of society.
Making an impact is often seen as doing something big and grand, like landing a rocket on the moon, but I believe that the most meaningful impact we can make is in the small, everyday moments. For me, that means reminding each autistic girl growing up that she is enough, that she is complete, and that she is not broken. I want to help create a world where autistic girls feel seen, heard, and accepted for who they are and to leave behind a better world for girls who come after me.
Rocyie is the founder of Safe Space. Having struggled with a chronic skin condition called psoriasis for most of her life, she truly understands the setbacks and challenges on this journey. Knowing that there are 1.25 million people just like her out there, she strives to create a platform in service of psoriasis warriors around the world.
Making an impact is leaving a long lasting effect on psoriasis patients’ quality of life, be it wellness techniques, mental health and perspective change.
Faiz Qayyuum’ s life has immensely changed since he embarked on his volunteering journey in 2012, where he left prison with the hope of a second chance.
Through volunteering, he experienced personal growth and developed a strong commitment to becoming a better person, all while extending his help to those in need not only in Malaysia but also around the world. Faiz has actively participated in volunteer missions in Bangladesh, including #RevisitBangladesh2018, #OhanaToAcheh2018, #MisiDapurSulawesi2018, among many others.
In 2019, Faiz received devastating news when he lost his mother, who was battling cancer. This personal tragedy motivated him to initiate a Cancer Awareness program aimed to support individuals fighting cancer. His project garnered support from the State Cancer Institute and from local artists such as Heliza Helmi, Hazwani Helmi, Sherry Al-Hadad, and Hana Ismail.
Faiz has received awards from Yayasan Salam Malaysia, including the 2016 Leadership Award in the ‘Gold Awar