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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 342 posts for Wikibeng

“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

Digital Literacy Should be Pursued the Way Universal Literacy Once Was

By OOI KEE BENG. Penang Monthly Editorial, October 2020 AT ITS MOST basic level, literacy is about the ability to read and write. But reading and writing is a goal to an end. It was to get us educated. Literacy leads us into a world of endless knowledge – and communication. Literacy as a measure … Continue reading

Are New Forces for Change on the Rise in Malaysia?

By OOI KEE BENG There is something strange about the word “transit”. We assume that a child, for example, will someday grow—transit—to become a mature adult, and not remain psychically a child albeit in physical adult form. At the same time, we do know that all too often, physical adults do continue acting like children … Continue reading

Can “The New Normal” be “The New Age”?

By OOI KEE BENG, Editorial for September 2020, Penang Monthly. AS EXAMPLES INCREASE of countries getting new spikes in Covid-19 cases, and as some sustained green zones in Malaysia, like Penang, start turning yellow, it is understandable that the public begins to worry, and to take the SOPs more seriously again. Takeaways from restaurants seem … Continue reading