THE very first person to grace the cover of R.AGE, Dawn Ling, refers to it as the “Archie section” of The Star. The reason is simple. “Which young person back then didn’t like Archie comics, right?” she said with a laugh.

It’s been just over 10 years since that first issue of R.AGE was published on Sept 12, 2005, and Ling was featured in it after winning a college girl search on FHM a few months earlier.

“My college friends didn’t believe me when I told them I was on the cover!” she said.

And it was hard to get proof too, because R.AGE was only available to colleges/universities in the Klang Valley at the time. As a student in Penang, all she could show them was a slightly crumpled copy that then-R.AGE assistant editor Niki Cheong had sent her in the mail.

Ling with the very first edition of R.AGE, dated Sept 12, 2005. She was featured after winning an FHM college girl search.

Ling with the very first edition of R.AGE, dated Sept 12, 2005. She was featured after winning an FHM college girl search.

It would be almost a year before R.AGE spread its wings to Penang, and Ling remembers attending the launch with celebrities including Douglas Lim, Hannah Tan and Marion Caunter. A photo of her with Tan and Caunter finally helped her settle that score with her friends.

Today, Ling is a public relations freelancer. Her first experience with the media industry came when she joined BRATs, The Star’s young journalist programme, in 2003. Two years later, she received an email from Cheong through the BRATs mailing list, asking for suggestions on interesting people they could feature in the first issue.

She wrote back to Cheong, mentioning that she was up for it. A few weeks later, she was on a flight to KL, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ten years on, Ling still remembers R.AGE’s early years well, despite not following it for the past few years.

“My favourite sections back then were the opinion pieces. They were really thought-provoking and showed the personalities of the writers.

“Some of them were so funny and sarcastic! Could we have that back, please?” she asked.

Ling herself has contributed articles to The Star as part of the BRATs young journalist programme, which is now being run by R.AGE.

Her experience with the earlier BRATs and R.AGE editors is something she says she will remember for the rest of her life.

She recalled meeting Tan Ju-Eng, R.AGE’s first editor. “I was so scared of her!” she said.

Her hope for R.AGE for the next 10 years is simple: for it to keep on going.

Not a problem. In fact, we’ll check back with her in 2025.


Journalist and resident “genius” who enjoys telling stories about inspiring people.

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