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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 394 posts for Wikibeng

E&E and E&E: Penang’s Two Economic Legs Showing Strong Muscles

By OOI KEE BENG, Penang Monthly Editorial, August 2022 AS WITH Singapore three decades later, Penang, on being taken over by the British in 1786, immediately depended on the benefits of being a free port. The contingencies of such an economy quickly came to define most of what we consider Penang Culture today. This unique … Continue reading

A National Reset Recipe: Federation Building, Global Learning and Social Justice

By OOI KEE BENG for The Edge Malaysia, 27 July 2022 FOR MALAYSIA post-­Vision 2020, what can a systemic reset mean? Will changing governments change the system enough? Will reforming this or that legislation or even a constitutional principle alter the societal dynamics of this diverse country? Maybe. Maybe not, with a much stronger leaning … Continue reading

Why Cultures Coexist Better than Ethnicities

ABOUT 30 years ago, a very influential Malaysian scholar wrote the following incisive and insightful paragraphs: “I contend that, like most social phenomena, identity formation takes place within what I would call a ‘two social reality’ context: first, the ‘authority-defined’ social reality, one which is authoritatively defined by people who are part of the dominant … Continue reading

Trusting Remains a Process that Takes Time in the Information Age

ONCE UPON A time, information was generated slowly and carefully. The time and distance between thought, expression, dissemination and reception were substantial. Most of us do realise that the disruptions that information & communication technologies bring are inevitable. They are a flood that you ride and manoeuvre, or that you drown in. Standing by the … Continue reading

What Do Straits Do—Separate or Connect? [Part One]

By Ooi Kee Beng, EDITORIAL in Penang Monthly, June 20 DOES THE PENANG Strait separate Seberang Perai from Penang Island or does it connect one to the other? This question is not as glib as it may sound at first reading. We do think of bodies of water as things that separate the pieces of … Continue reading

Malaysians Must Surely Be Tired to Death of Racialism By Now

By OOI KEE BENG, for THE EDGE MALAYSIA, 28 June – 3 July 2022 The Covid-19 pandemic experience has brought with it profound changes in the mindset of all of us who have had to rethink their lives, their work, and their ambitions. The term The Great Resignation has been bandied around to denote the … Continue reading

Relating Tales of Dislocated Culture

INTERVIEW with Souvantham Thammavongsa By Ooi Kee Beng May 2022 FEATURE in Penang Monthly AUTHOR SOUVANKHAM THAMMAVONGSA’S initially hesitant demeanour over Zoom belies the writing style of her debut short story collection, How to Pronounce Knife. She mobilises everyday words and turns of phrase to rouse readers from emotional lethargy, rewarding them in the process with jabs … Continue reading

In Many Minds about Sustainability

By Ooi Kee Beng One would think that the need for sustainability in all the major processes in human life today would not be controversial. And generally, it is not. Hardly any policy maker constructs policies without exhibiting his or her cognizance of it. No ocean liner can change course immediately, and that would seem … Continue reading

Euston Quah and the Virtues of Cost-Benefit Analysis

By Ooi Kee Beng in Penang Profile for Penang Monthly May 2022  OUR EDITOR WAS stuck in Singapore for a few weeks in 2021 during the pandemic, and took the chance to meet up with one of Penang’s many famous sons living in that city state. This was Professor Euston Quah, an old Penang Free … Continue reading

On Urbanity and Wealth, and the Future of the Countryside

By Ooi Kee Beng Editorial in Penang Monthly, May 2022 URBANISATION IS AN oft-cited sign of radical socio-economic changes in a country. The process at some point could be one of necessity, where the agricultural sector has undergone such huge disruptions that unemployed agricultural workers have to leave the pastoral lifestyle to live in squalid … Continue reading