Driven to be a superstar Journalist, Poh Si Teng, 22, has worked around the clock for years to make sure her reporting of important issues are top-notch. That’s not all that drives Poh. Besides her career in journalism, she is also the Co-Founder and Director for theCICAK – a non-profit Malaysian political and pop culture e-zine aimed at informing and connecting Malaysian youth. theCICAK helps create awareness of important issues and unites forward-thinking Malaysians towards progress. Learn more about Poh Si Teng and theCICAK as we feature her in this week’s Non-Profit Spotlight.
Poh Si Teng
Director for theCICAK
Journalist and Multimedia Producer
San Francisco, California
San Francisco State University
BA in Journalism
Director Jun ’05-present
Managing Editor Jun ’05-Oct ’06
Coaching Program Coordinator
The Columbus Dispatch
The Vallejo Times-Herald
Dec ’05-Jan ’06
Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers
New Straits Times (Malaysia)
About the company
Launched in June 2005, theCICAK is a non-profit Malaysian political and popular culture webzine. It covers all issues relevant to Malaysian youth, from the music piracy industry to the Internal Security Act (Malaysian version of the Patriot Act).
The purpose of the webzine is to provide young Malaysians with a platform to voice their opinions and not worry about government censorship. So far we have published more than 100 articles. Our webzine traffic ranges from 11,000 to 40,000 hits a day. theCICAK recently launched a commentary competition with the support of individual donors, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and The Sun newspaper. In addition, the webzine also received a brief nod in a Malaysian independent film called S’kali, where one of the main characters writes for theCICAK.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
As director of theCICAK, I work closely with a team of editors, web developers, staff writers and contributors. I mentor and encourage young contributors to write about issues that affect them.
I also produce multimedia news packages in San Francisco, and recently did a story about dumpster diving and acupuncture treatments for people addicted to drugs.
My journalism experience includes covering science, crime, city hall and general assignments for different newspapers such as The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio, the Vallejo Times-Herald, The Oakland Tribune and other ANG Newspapers.
I also coordinate a coaching program at the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism, and pair San Francisco State University journalism students with journalists in the Bay Area.
Most notable milestones
Receiving support for theCICAK from influential political bloggers, high school and college students, individual donors and organizations such as Friedrich Naumann Foundation and The Sun newspaper.
What’s the niche?
theCICAK is pronounced as “CHEE-CHAK.” In Bahasa Melayu, the word means lizard. theCICAK is a scaly elongated reptile that has four legs, a tapering tail and movable eyelids. It is commonly found in Malaysian homes, and is regarded as a nuisance.
“Whimsical, but think about it – they’re ever present, hear everything you say, and hold a counsel among each other,” said Nurjehan, a former editor of theCICAK.
theCICAK represents a growing population of discontented young Malaysians who want a more democatic country.
1. To create awareness and discussion of issues that affect Malaysian youth.
2. To remind Malaysian policymakers that young people should be taken seriously.
3. To unite a generation of young Malaysians to lead the country.
What’s the biggest challenge?
Protecting our writers from political and religious persecution, and social stigma in Malaysia.
What’s in store for the future?
I have plans to set up an endowment for theCICAK. I’ll be interning as a multimedia producer for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia next year.
Best way to stay ahead
Always be willing to change. If something doesn’t work, move on. Sometimes we get caught up in a project and aren’t willing to let it go, even when we know that pursuing it would do us no good. While it is important to stay the course, it is just as crucial to drop it if it’s not working.
Guiding principle in life
Always fight the fight for the little people, the underdogs who are marginalized. Don’t wait for someone to make a difference. We have to be willing to do it and live it.
Goal yet to be achieved
I’d like to set up an endowment for theCICAK webzine.
Supportive words from a family member or friend
There is no point worrying about things that have yet to come. While it is important to plan and map out the future, be sure to take things as they come. What’s happened has passed. And whatever happens tomorrow is not here yet. But we have the power of NOW to make a difference.
Like best about what you do?
As a reporter and multimedia producer, it’s my job to be a busybody. And I like it. It’s nice to be able to have an impact on people’s lives. I wouldn’t trade my career for journalism for anything else in the world.
As director for theCICAK, I get to bring togetber like-minded, highly enthusiastic and passionate young Malaysians. I love doing this.
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to pursue nursing.
What was your first job?
At age 15, I was a waitress at a bar in Penang, Malaysia.
Biggest pastime outside of work
Spending time with the one I love.
Person most interested in meeting
I’d like to meet the Dalai Lama. He’s so full of compassion and willing to accept alternative viewpoints, even if they contradict his beliefs or practices. He’s inspirational.
Three interesting facts about yourself
1. I do yoga.
2. I’m vegetarian.
3. I’m a nerd. I like Role Playing Games (RPG).
Three characteristics that describe you
1. Hard-nosed reporter. I will give my all when working on a good story.
2. Driven. Once I’m set on something, I’m going to put all my resources and effort into securing it.
Three greatest passions
1. Journalism, reporting.
2. Working with children.
3. Working with the elderly. We need to care for them.
I don’t have a favorite book. I recently read Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto, and liked it very much.
Who would you like to be contacted by?
Passionate individuals who want a better and more democratic Malaysia. Positive people.