By IAN YEE,
In November 2015, R.AGE released its first major documentary project – The Curse Of Serawan. We had spent weeks investigating reports that orang asli (indigenous people) children in a remote jungle were dying of a mystery illness, known to orang asli as serawan.
The project was a major turning point for R.AGE. The government took notice. People were writing in. Activists were voicing out in support. A government task force was set up to investigate. The State Health Department publicly committed itself to improve healthcare for the orang asli. All good things.
That set the tone for the year that was to come at R.AGE. It gave us the confidence to really go big on multimedia documentaries (a mix of online video, editorial pieces, interactive media, social media, and more), and to use that work to make a difference in 2016.
It wasn’t always easy — good journalism rarely is. But looking back at 2016, I can proudly say that my team gave everything they had, and they produced some truly spectacular work. Here are 12 of our best videos/projects, one of each month of the year (more or less).
JANUARY: The Men Who Carry Thaipusam
Ahead of Thaipusam in January 2016, we came across a fascinating story, one which we couldn’t believe had never been told before. Kavadi porters are men who consider it a sacred duty to help the pilgrims at Thaipusam during their arduous journey to the temple at Batu Caves. They support and encourage the pilgrims all the way up the 272 steps to the temple, and then carry their massive kavadis back down for them.
Our team posted live video clips on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook throughout the big day, and compiled everything into this short documentary.
Full story package: rage.com.my/thaipusam
The Men Who Carry ThaipusamThe untold story of Malaysia’s kavadi porters, who consider it a sacred duty to help pilgrims at Thaipusam. rage.com.my/thaipusam
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Posted by R.AGE on Wednesday, February 17, 2016
FEBRUARY: Young Lions
Malaysia is home to some of the world’s best lion dance troupes. These guys are dancers, acrobats, artists and stuntmen all rolled into one, risking serious injury every time they take to the 6-8 feet high poles to perform.
R.AGE went behind-the-scenes with some of the top Malaysian troupes, including five-time world champion Low Tong Sheng, ahead of the crucial Chinese New Year period in February.
Full series: rage.com.my/younglions.
Young Lions: The life of a world champion lion dancerFive-time world lion dance champion Low Tong Sheng in action. Not for the faint-hearted.
Watch more episodes of #YoungLions at rage.com.my/younglions.
* Thanks to the 關聖文化宮 Kun Seng Keng lion dance association for allowing us to film with them during #CNY!
Posted by R.AGE on Tuesday, February 16, 2016
MARCH: The Elephant In Our Room
Our guys Shanjeev Reddy and Elroi Yee were almost trampled to death by a wild elephant for this video. They were in the jungles of Perak to film The Curse Of Serawan, when they uncovered another mammoth (bad pun intended) story.
The Malaysian Wildlife Department had moved 36 wild elephants into the same area as the orang asli over the course of five years. It doubled the elephant population in the area, making it a great tourist attraction for the state park.
But it also put the elephants and orang asli in a situation of unavoidable conflict. During our stay with the orang asli, a wild elephant rummaged through the village, causing everyone to flee into the night, including us. There was a brief moment of panic as the elephant charged towards us, but thankfully the orang asli had made enough noise to cause the elephant to veer away into the night.
Another village was forced to completely abandon their homes after another elephant “attack”. They had to live in the hills in makeshift tents for weeks — women, children and all.
Experts later told us that translocating elephants, clearly, is an imperfect solution. Full story: rage.com.my/elephant-in-our-room
The Elephant In Our RoomHere’s what happens when 36 WILD ELEPHANTS are dumped on your backyard. We’re just glad our team made it out in one piece. Full story: rage.com.my/elephant-in-our-room.
The orang asli in the Royal Belum State Park are becoming increasingly exposed to foraging elephants, who eat all their crops and destroy their homes.
And it’s not the elephants’ fault. As many as 36 wild elephants have been translocated into the state park by the Wildlife Department since 2010, doubling the elephant population in the area.
Our crew spent several days living with the orang asli to film this documentary, and we saw for ourselves just how dangerous this human-animal conflict has become.
Posted by R.AGE on Tuesday, March 15, 2016
APRIL: Land Of Rising Hope
We visited Higashimatsushima, Japan, a city nearly wiped out by the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami of 2011, to see how the city is slowly rebuilding itself, despite becoming a ghost town in the years after.
We also managed to see how one organisation, HANDs!, is educating children about disaster response, and as you’d expect from the Japanese, it is very novel indeed.
Full story: rage.com.my/japan-tsunami
Land of Rising Hope: Learning from the 2011 tsunamiHow Japan does disaster education, using lessons from the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami of 2011: https://rage.com.my/japan-tsunami/
R.AGE journalist Shanjeev Reddy produced this documentary while travelling with the HANDs! disaster education programme in Higashimatsushima, a city nearly wiped out by the tsunami.
Posted by R.AGE on Tuesday, April 12, 2016
SPECIAL MENTION: The Curse Of Serawan won an Asian Media Award!
One of our first big achievements since we started doing documentaries. We even got a free trip to Manila to attend the award ceremony!
THE CURSE OF SERAWAN: An award-winning R.AGE documentaryR.AGE spent a week living with the orang asli of Sungai Kejar to investigate reports of child deaths from a mysterious disease, known to locals only as “serawan”. But the issues we uncovered go way beyond a deadly disease.
Watch the full award-winning documentary series, THE CURSE OF SERAWAN, at rage.com.my/dead-and-forgotten.
Posted by R.AGE on Sunday, February 28, 2016
MAY: The Blind Footballers Of Malaysia
That’s right – blind footballers. Every time we tell people about this story, they do a mental double take. It might sound like something straight out of Daredevil, but it’s real.
In the heart of KL, a football coach has been working tirelessly to train up a team of Malaysian blind footballers to represent the country at the World Cup of blind football — and they’re well on their way to qualifying.
The players are mostly young men from across the country, many of whom take public transport every Friday to get to KL for training over the weekends. And on Monday, it’s back home, and back to work for most of them.
Full story: rage.com.my/blindfootball (includes an audio version for the visually impaired)
The inspiring story of Malaysia’s blind footballersThe inspiring story of Malaysia’s blind footballers, who’re dreaming of going to the World Cup. Full story, with an audio version for the visually impaired, at rage.com.my/blindfootball.
Video by Elroi Yee, Hafriz Iqbal, Maryam Zainol and Hansel Khoo. Story by Lim May Lee.
Posted by R.AGE on Tuesday, May 31, 2016
JUNE: Predator In My Phone
A few of our female journalists spent six months undercover, posing as underage girls to meet up with child sex predators. They created fake profiles on popular chat apps like WeChat and Bee Talk, and were shocked to find just how many sex predators were trawling through these apps for victims.
After chatting for a day or two, most of these predators would ask for a meet-up. We disguised our journalists to meet them, and filmed those encounters using hidden cameras.
The resulting documentary series set in motion a chain of events which would lead to a government task force pushing for new laws against child sexual crimes. More updates in the following months below.
Full story: rage.com.my/catching-sex-predators
Predator In My Phone | Ep. 1: CONTACTR.AGE journalists spent six months investigating child sex predators in Malaysia. Here’s the shocking hidden camera footage they got. Full story: rage.com.my/catching-sex-predators
LIKE the Predator In My Phone page to support our campaign for new laws against child sexual crimes.
Posted by Predator In My Phone on Tuesday, June 14, 2016
JULY: Dating A Predator
A follow-up series to Predator In My Phone, with each episode featuring a different sting operation with a child sex predator. Our most viewed series of the year.
More episodes at facebook.com/ragepmp.
Dating A Predator | The Teacher“Your vagina has an expiry date, so the best time to have sex is when you’re 14 or 15.”
Watch the video to find out what else this child sex predator said to our undercover journalist.
Join the campaign to pass new laws against child sexual grooming in Parliament! Find out how at www.predator.my. Parliament starts on Oct 17, so hurry! #MPsAgainstPredators
Help us spread the word by sharing this video! We need as much awareness as possible for the campaign to work.
Posted by Predator In My Phone on Sunday, July 17, 2016
AUGUST: Nembiak Negri Minyak
Miri is a city built on oil. Almost everyone in the city works in the oil and gas industry, or knows someone who does.
But in late 2015, when global oil prices started to crash, the city was hit hard. This documentary shows how the crash has affected the city, and how the young people bore the most of the brunt.
Also, it was our first documentary in Bahasa Melayu Sarawak. Nembiak negri minyak means “boys of oil city”. Full story: rage.com.my/miri-oil-crisis
Nembiak Negri Minyak: The Boys Of Oil CityThe global oil price crash has hit the city of Miri, Sarawak hard, and the youth of Miri were the first to bear the brunt of it.
LIKE R.AGE on Facebook for more inspiring Malaysian stories.
Posted by R.AGE on Tuesday, August 9, 2016
SPECIAL MENTION: Eid In Rio
R.AGE went to Rio de Janeiro ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics, and we were able to shoot a short documentary, EID IN RIO, with the Muslim community living in the predominantly Catholic city.
SEPTEMBER: Survivor Stories
Another spin-off series of Predator In My Phone. Many victims of child sexual grooming were opening up to us, and they wanted to speak up to help empower others who had been through the same.
The most viewed episode saw actress Lisa Surihani, a huge supporter of the campaign, interviewing a 14-year-old who had been raped twice. The second time, she became pregnant.
Survivor Stories: I was pregnant with my rapist’s baby at 14Lisa Surihani meets a 14-year-old who was sexually groomed and raped by two men from the age of 12. After becoming pregnant, she and her family decided to give the baby up for adoption.
Join the movement to call for laws against sexual grooming by contacting your Member of Parliament at www.predator.my #MPsAgainstPredators
Posted by Predator In My Phone on Monday, October 17, 2016
After realising that the police could not arrest any of the child sex predators we uncovered through Predator In My Phone, we organised a campaign to get the Malaysian Parliament to enact new laws criminalising child sexual grooming.
Malaysia’s laws against child sexual crimes in general are incredibly outdated, something which our campaign sought to change by lobbying Members of Parliament (MPs) directly.
We created an online portal which allowed members of the public to find out who their MPs were, and to send them messages on social media calling for new laws against sexual grooming.
To launch the campaign, we did a full day of live broadcasts on Facebook, featuring celebrity supports like Marina Mahathir, JinnyBoy, Lisa Surihani and Syed Azmi. To top it off, Lisa called several MPs, live on air, to lobby their support.
#MPsAgainstPredators campaign launchAfter ten long months, we are finally ready to push the Parliament of Malaysia for new laws against child sexual grooming. This is the launch of #MPsAgainstPredators, with campaign ambassador Lisa Surihani.
Find out how you can do your part to end child sexual grooming at www.predator.my.
Posted by Predator In My Phone on Friday, October 14, 2016
NOVEMBER: More #MPsAgainstPredators…
We spent most of the month lobbying MPs and gatecrashing Parliament while it was in session, so there weren’t many new videos to shout about, but we did release a bunch of celebrity PSAs, like this one with Harith Iskander.
Basically, we got a bunch of celebs to read out transcripts of the chat messages between our undercover journalists and child sex predators.
Harith Iskander reads out chat messages from online sex predators“Funniest Person In The World” winner HARITH ISKANDER gets serious for the campaign against child sexual grooming. WARNING: Content may not be suitable for young children.
Join Harith in support of the #MPsAgainstPredators campaign. Find out more at www.predator.my.
Posted by Predator In My Phone on Sunday, December 11, 2016
DECEMBER: The One-Man Search Party
One of the most emotionally-charged documentaries we’ve ever done. Jiang Hui has dedicated his life to finding out what happened to missing flight MH370, flying around the world and following up on every lead, working every possible channel. His mother was on the flight.
We followed Jiang Hui around on one of his many trips to KL. Throughout our interviews, he was always stoic and determined; rarely emotional. The only time he came close to breaking down was when he spoke of his young daughter back in China, who he said is already starting to forget her grandmother.
#MH370: The One-Man Search PartyA new original documentary by R.AGE. THE ONE-MAN SEARCH PARTY tells the story of Jiang Hui, who has devoted his life to finding out what happened to his mother, a passenger aboard #MH370.
Posted by R.AGE on Monday, December 5, 2016
ONE LAST THING… We won the World Young Reader Prize in Washington DC!
R.AGE was recognised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (Wan Ifra) as the world’s best youth news publisher!
We travelled to the Wan Ifra World Young Reader Prize ceremony in Washington DC to collect the award, which was a HUGE honour, especially given the fact that we beat out competition from around the world.
R.AGE wins the World Young Reader Prize in Washington DCR.AGE was in Washington DC to receive the World Young Reader Prize! Here’s a quick recap of the award ceremony, but stay tuned for the full video, and please LIKE our page to continue supporting our work =)
Posted by R.AGE on Sunday, December 11, 2016