Ethnic Groups in malaysia : Malay 50.1%, Chinese 22.6%, Indigenous 11.8%, Indian 6.7%, Non-Citizens 8.2%

Over the last six weeks forest fires in Indonesia have pumped CO2 into the atmosphere, estimated to be on track for between 0.81 and 2.57 gigatonnes, more than the annual output of the UK.  The smoke is visible a million miles into space, almost entirely covering neighbouring Malaysia.

The pall wraps Dogtown in dirt and brown. The air is burnt, acrid. Stay outside for the day and the coughing begins, a dry hack at the back of the throat that clears nothing and leaves you dry.

Every year it’s the same, the palm oil plantations are cleared, fires spring up across all of Indonesia and the smoke goes up an apocalyptic season unto itself. As heavy as the smoke lies the sense of resignation, it’s another country, the government is powerless, too much money in back pockets and brown envelops for anything to change.



“We stay indoors” say the people who can. Houses, air-conditioned cars, offices, all sealed tight and the shopping malls fit to burst. It’s a marker of status, a new culture emerging, who gets to stay indoors, who has to go out.

In the workshops and warehouses of Dogtown there is no indoors, just a roof for the rain. No one wears a mask, there doesn’t seem to be much point. This is the raw edge of environmental destruction, a hard reality and an everyday practicality, a dream of blue skies turned to brown.    

Malaysia’s industrial sector accounts for 36.8% of the country’s GDP and employs 36% of the labour force. The country has modernised rapidly and manufacturing is big, but head out of KL and things still seem slow. It’s sleepy heat and languid days, plugging the national myth of the lazy Malay.



Proton and Perodua, two local manufacturers who are heavily supported by the government through hefty trade barriers, dominate Malaysia’s car industry. Locals can expect to pay up to 300% of the original asking price of a foreign car. Thanks to this custom car culture is big in Malaysia and there is a constant appetite for garages who can help support this kind of activity.

In August 2015 Malaysia saw it’s first rabies outbreak in three years. The authorities came down hard on the problem, killing over 1000 stray dogs in the Penang region in the space of a month. NGO’s argue that vaccination would be more effective.

Dogtown’s strays are mixed like the attitudes that treat them, Some feed them and offer them a place, others revile them and shoo them away, There’s some religion here, dogs are unclean as well as just dirty, but for the most part its personal if the hand reaches for the scraps or the stick. The stray’s don’t breed here, they are bought in, unwanted runts from other litters, dropped in the night to gather the next day. Just like the scrap here, the dogs get recycled, some find new homes whilst others still wait.