For The Young ‘Uns

3 Sep

Malina is passionate about children's issues.

Malina is passionate about children’s issues.

There’s a new magazine in town that specifically targets children here. MEENA SREENIVASAN speaks to the brain behind the venture.

Best Buds – “Where kids rule”.

“I USED to spend quite a bit on foreign magazines monthly for my daughter,” said Datin Malina Su.

The mother of three realised there was a dearth of local magazines specifically targeted at children, and decided to publish one herself. Which was how Best Buds came about.

“It dawned upon me that children didn’t really have much choice. There weren’t many local magazines aimed at children aged between seven and 14. That was one of the reasons which inspired me to start Best Buds.

“There are less fortunate children who can’t afford to buy magazines, let alone books. Best Buds is affordable at just RM5.50,” she said, looking pretty and poised in a dark blue ruffled chiffon blouse and black slacks.
For an ex-army captain, you would expect her to look a little more weathered, but she surprises you with her feminity and sophistication.

“I joined the army when I was 18. After serving for seven years, I left to pursue a career in public relations and marketing,” she said.

She had always been interested in children’s issues, especially drugs and runaways.

“I like to surf the Internet for information on these topics and I am sure that with some guidance from parents and good books, these children will do better for themselves,” she said.

“Children learn basic subjects in school such as Maths, Science and Geography. But what else do they learn other than what is taught in school? Where else can they get knowledge? Reading isn’t a hobby anymore. They prefer to chat online or spend time on social networking websites such as Facebook and Friendster,” she lamented.

The magazine, designed by children, features current happenings in Malaysia and covers a variety of topics such as movies, jokes, fashion, health, celebrity chats, contests, events, inventors and their inventions, and health.

“Best Buds’ tagline is ‘Where kids rule’. It’s a cool magazine featuring great kids who are accomplished in their own right. Children are invited to join the Best Buds club and as members, they can participate in fun-filled activities,” said Malina.

She likens Best Buds to a children’s Reader’s Digest where readers get little bites of knowledge.

“I have a Best Buds club member from Singapore who is 23. She didn’t know what ponggal was about until she read about it in the magazine. The magazine covers all local festivals and celebrations. Recently, there was a informative piece on Alexander Graham Bell. It was on his birthday.

“Most magazines contain entertainment and general information. And they put idols and artistes on their cover. We do otherwise. We feature young Malaysian achievers on our cover,” she said, holding up a past issue of Best Buds with genius kid Adi Putra on its cover.

“What’s really wonderful about this magazine is our cover kids. They are all young achievers and we source for these children through newspapers, clubs, sports clubs and NGOs.”

Damelia Ajla, Malina’s cousin and editor of Best Buds, does the research and sources for the children and talents they want to feature.

“In line with the Olympic Games, the September issue features a child who is a badminton player,” she said.

How did the name Best Buds come about?

“My daughter and I were chatting in the car. She is very creative for a 13-year-old. I asked her to suggest a name as children her age would know what is hip and trendy. She suggested Best Buds because it means Best Buddies!”.

Malina’s favourite column is “Ian Rants”.

“Ian, our regular contributor, is in upper primary school. He is an excellent storyteller. He writes on different topics such as his life, school holidays, the beginning of school and other interesting stuff.”

Malina is also working on setting up a children’s library for poor urban children.

“For me, it is the urban poor who are suffering now. Food and rental are expensive. But even if the parents are poor, their children want what their classmates and friends have. These are the children who get into trouble.

“It will be good for them to have a place to hang out and spend time usefully. I am thinking of setting up a library in Cheras for children from seven to 14-years-old.

“There are many amazing children in this country in this age group. My dream is to be able to distribute my magazine to children for free,” she added.

New Straits Times

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