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Ooi Kee Beng

Dr OOI KEE BENG is the Executive Director of Penang Institute (George Town, Penang, Malaysia). He was born and raised in Penang, and was the Deputy Director of ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute (formerly the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, ISEAS). He is the founder-editor of the Penang Monthly (published by Penang Institute), ISEAS Perspective (published by ISEAS) and ISSUES (published by Penang Institute). He is also editor of Trends in Southeast Asia, and a columnist for The Edge, Malaysia.
Ooi Kee Beng has written 345 posts for Wikibeng

Malaya Before Merdeka: Mirrored in the Life of H.S. Lee

[Author’s speech at the online Book Launch: Ooi Kee Beng: As Empires Fell. The Life and Times of Lee Hau-Shik, Malaya’s First Finance Minister (ISEAS Publishing 2020): 27 August 2020] OOI KEE BENG (Executive Director, Penang Institute; Senior Fellow, Jeffrey Cheah Institute for Southeast Asia, Sunway University, and; Visiting Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak … Continue reading

Top Policy Priorities in the Wake of the Crisis

By OOI KEE BENG, Editorial, Penang Monthly, February 2021 AS COVID-19 steadily dismantles the Old Normal, our uncertainties get more and more focused on basics. No longer do we worry as much about that continually postponed overseas trip as much as we do about whether we are allowed to exercise in the neighbourhood park. No … Continue reading

In a Pandemic, Science and Statesmanship Must Tactically Converge

By Ooi Kee Beng For The Edge Malaysia, 30 January, 2021 In times of political crisis, minds are moved to investigate fundamental concepts such as power and representation—and legitimacy, the shorthand for the relationship between these two terms. This bearing is more pertinent than ever during a pandemic. Our age—the era of the nation state—generally … Continue reading

“Reform or Fail” is the Given Slogan for Malaysia’s Next Election

By Ooi Kee Beng, For The Edge Malaysia, 27 December 2020 – 2 January 2021 IN A CRISIS, especially one as globe-spanning as the Covid-19 pandemic, society gets defensive and social interactions become apprehensive. Outsiders are eyed suspiciously and parochial tendencies grow strong. The moral capacity of individuals is put to the test. The immediate … Continue reading

Individual Malaysians Embody Society’s Diversity

By OOI KEE BENG for The Edge Malaysia, November 30, 2020 Malaysia is a country where identity politics has been running rampant for decades and where multiple layers of “us-versus-them” awareness has drawn public attention away from commonalities and undermined the high degree of cultural integration evident in its peri-urban and urban population. Comprehensive politicisation … Continue reading

To Live and Let Live, You Need Sustainability Thinking

By Ooi Kee Beng, Penang Monthly Editorial, December 2020 THERE IS A persistent trend in the thinking of the people of Penang which is not easily named, but discerning it helps explain why civil society activism is so strong in a place that at the same time is renowned for being languidly contented. Much has … Continue reading

The SXI Spirit: Hard Work as Second Nature

Editorial-cum-book review: Francis Loh Kok Wah, Cecilia Ng and Anthony Rogers: The Xaverian Journey: The Story of a Lasallian School in Penang, Malaysia 1787-2019. Pulau Pinang: Southbound. 2019. I AM A Xaverian, and silently (until now at least) I have been very proud of that fact. Not proud in the sense of “My school, right or wrong”, … Continue reading

Malaysia’s political chess games are not over

By Ooi Kee Beng, For CNA Commentary, 2 November 2020 PENANG: Using legalist or technical language to explain Malaysian politics in the significant and tumultuous year of 2020 is not really going to capture the essence of what has been unfolding over the last eight months. A longer historical vantage point, coupled with the immediate recognition … Continue reading

Is Malaysia seeing a crisis in its identity politics?

Identity politics cannot end happily. Since the “Us-versus-Them” game is a cynical exercise in exclusion on the one hand, and inclusion on the other — both done through essentialist myth-building and through the dismissal and denial of factors that stand in the way — desperation and defensiveness become its default sentiment. Historically, the worst cases … Continue reading

International trade remains the basis for global goodwill

By OOI KEE BENG; For THE EDGE MALAYSIA, 28 Sept – 4 Oct 2020. Is the Covid-19 pandemic the third nail being hammered into the coffin of globalisation? While the historical process connecting all of humanity under one economic umbrella cannot be stopped, it can be redirected where its decisive dynamics and its major actors … Continue reading