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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 240 posts for Wikibeng

Interview with Nurul Izzah Anwar: Rebuilding a Nation Long Divided

By Ooi Kee Beng, Penang Monthly, September 2017. Nurul Izzah, Daughter of the Reformasi, and of the jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, was pulled into politics as a young girl. Now 36 years old, she has become a major figure in Malaysian politics. The future looks bright for her, and many see her as a … Continue reading

Did Merdeka Liberate or Create Malaya?

By Ooi Kee Beng. Editorial, Penang Monthly, September, 2017 Sixty years may have passed since Merdeka Day, but its historical significance remains something we continue to debate. Did Malaya fight to free itself from an implacable Britain? Did the British offer independence to its colonies in South-East Asia to suit its own ends? Was there … Continue reading

In 60 years, the Art of Dismantling Cultural Pluralism

By OOI KEE BENG, for The Malaysian Insight, 31 August 2017 MALAYSIA is a special place for its natural geography and its human history, but most importantly of all, because of its demographic complexity. The peninsula is on the western receiving end of the wind systems of the Bay of Bengal, placed between huge and … Continue reading

The More Things Change, the More Things May Actually Change

By Ooi Kee Beng for The Edge, 28 August 2017 THE ELECTIONS are coming, and the array of political parties facing each other across the widening divide can be stupefying for any observer newly arrived on the Malaysian scene. It would seem therefore that a quick look at the historical context in which some of … Continue reading

One Thing is Certain—There will be More Amendments to the Constitution

By Ooi Kee Beng, Editorial, Penang Monthly, August 2017 As with all agreements, consensus and contracts, a Constitution is a hunt for a balance – and a dynamic one at that, between the expressing on one hand of lofty national aspirations and ambitions, and on the other of compromises meant to be more binding than … Continue reading

The Parochial and the Global are Intertwined

By OOI KEE BENG For The Edge, Forum July 24, 2017 In the time of Brexit and the tenure of Trump; with the triumph of Putin and the threat of Kim, instead of thinking about how Globalisation is being reversed, we should take a longer perspective and think about how the global battle in modern … Continue reading

The Primacy of Political Economy in Asia

By Ooi Kee Beng, Editorial, PEnang Monthly, July 2017 It’s a complicated subject, this thing we call Economics. I don’t always know what it means. I remember once talking to Robert Kuok about it. His reply was (and I paraphrase from my vague memory of that conversation): “Economics is simply about living, isn’t it? As … Continue reading

A Convincing Case for Farquhar

The immediate success of Singapore led to a grim court battle to decide who her actual founder was. That clash continues in this new and superbly researched book. BOOK REVIEW Book review: William Farquhar and Singapore: Stepping out of Raffles’ Shadow by Nadia H. Wright. Entrepot Publishing, 2017. By OOI KEE BENG The present always … Continue reading

We no longer have real time

By Ooi Kee Beng The Edge Malaysia Weekly (June 26-July 02, 2017). You know that you are living in the 21st century when you wake up in the morning and the first thing you do is reach across the bed — not to caress your spouse, but to embrace your smartphone. After all, it has … Continue reading

Ecotourism – Conduit to a New Consciousness?

By Ooi Kee Beng Editorial, Penang Monthly, June, 2017 EDITORIAL Ecotourism sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? We do know that tourism brings benefits to a place, but we cannot deny the larger truth of what I like to call The Paradox of Observation – the more we look at something, the more we change … Continue reading