Forum – “The conscious choice of giving back to our oceans in Malaysia”

2023 Moderator

Robin Philippo

Director of the Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRACC) Borneo

As an avid traveler Robin fell in love with diving in Egypt. What started as a hobby turned into a passion he could not ignore. After over a decade later in the diving industry, he now fully focusses on marine conservation as the Operational Director of the Tropical Research and Conservation Centre (TRACC) at Pom Pom Island, Sabah.

Seeing the destruction of coral reefs first hand all over Asia made him realize we can’t wait for change, which sparked him to join TRACC in 2017. Whether it is rehabilitating coral reefs; protecting turtles; or volunteering; everyone can play their part. Robin is passionately educating the new generations of divers about what impact they can have to be more environmentally friendly.

Currently he tries to convey this message through his recently picked up hobby; (UW) Photography

2023 Panelist

Sharifah Sofia

Actress; Host; Reefcheck Ambassador

Sofia is known for her work as an actress and environmental advocacy. She is also a corporate wellness advisor, ReefCheck ambassador and mother of 2.

Despite her demanding career and responsibilities as a mother, Sofia is actively involved in several conservation efforts in Malaysia, and uses her platform to inspire others to take action for environmental conservation.

Sofia is committed to promoting causes that she is truly passionate about which has made her a beloved figure and inspiration.

Gillian Tan

Owners Representative of ECHO Resorts & Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) 

After a decade of pursuing her studies and career in Australia, Gillian Tan returned to her homeland of Malaysia, where she helped to launch her family’s hospitality business.

It was through her work in the establishment that Gillian became involved with the Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC), a driving force behind the formation of ECHO Resorts– a bespoke collection of properties located on the west coast of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. The resorts were established to fund and fuel MERC’s research projects, which have successfully propagated, nurtured, and reintroduced seven species of Giant Clams into Malaysian waters. Currently, MERC runs several volunteer programs that allow guests to get involved in their marine conservation and coral propagation efforts.

As an avid diver, Gillian understands that conservation and diving go hand in hand. After being out of the water for 16 years, she slid back into her fins a year ago, driven by an unquenchable curiosity to explore Sabah’s waters and treasures. Since then, she has logged an impressive 200 dives, most of which have been in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park adjacent to Kota Kinabalu. Gillian’s dedication to marine conservation, her love of diving, and her unwavering desire to protect our oceans make her an inspiring figure in the field.

Gillian is a graduate of University of New South Wales, Australia, holding degrees in Philosophy, Economics, Accounting & Finance, and Nutrition.

Baki Zainal

TV Host; Event Emcee; Producer; Actor; Reefcheck & PADI Ambassador

He is indeed a talent that truly personifies the true Malaysian spirit. Fluent in Malay, English and Chinese and definitely an adventurous individual, Baki Zainal is a notable celebrity host & TV presenter who has hosted numerous TV shows and Asian Television Awards. Among the hosting stints under his belt include 8TV’s Mandarin travel showcase, Step Forward, Let’s Cycle and TV Okey’s Jom Dive show. As an actor, he has starred in several hit sitcoms, such as Kopitiam, Mr. Siao’s Mandarin Class, and Sini Ada Hantu. Other than that, he hosted the morning show in SuriaFM together with Adibah Noor where he won Best Radio Host 2016.  

Now Baki is using his voice through social media advocating to improve our oceans whilst being a Reefcheck ambassador and PADI Ambassadiver. 

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