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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 402 posts for Wikibeng

Anwar Ibrahim and the Resilience of the Reformasi Movement

By OOI KEE BENG, in The Straits Times, 26 November 2022 AGAINST GREAT ODDS, and despite time threatening to run out for him, Anwar Ibrahim, at 75 years old, is now Malaysia’s Prime Minister. With that, a new era appears to dawn for the country.  However, chances are, this change will not be as immediately … Continue reading

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Time to Go Beyond the Exigencies of Early Nationhood

By OOI KEE BENG. The Edge Malaysia, 21-27 November 2022 THE TRANSITION FROM colonialism to national independence did not start and end with celebrations on Aug 31, 1957. For starters, it was not so much national independence that was nominally declared that day as the founding of a new country. That country — Malaya — … Continue reading

A Deeply Transformed Political Landscape Calls for Confident Voters

By OOI KEE BENG, The Edge Malaysia, October 24-30, 2022 MUCH HAS HAPPENED in Malaysia over the last 25 years. Not only that, in fact, so much profound change has happened to the political landscape in the country that it is now actually quite unrecognisable. I returned to the region in 2004, just after Tun … Continue reading

The Future of Tourism—Only as Bright as We Make It

By OOI KEE BENG. Editorial for Penang Monthly, November 2022 SINCE INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL became possible post-Covid, I have, for various reasons, been staying in at least five countries for substantial periods of time, including in Malaysia. A common change that took place between 2020 and 2023 seems evident to me. In all of the countries, … Continue reading

Penang: Once Cosmopolitan, Always Cosmopolitan

By OOI KEE BENG, Penang Monthly Editorial, October 2022 URBAN CENTRES, by their very nature of having concentrated populations, tend also to place people from different backgrounds in close proximity to each other. These people have to share space; they have to share smells, sights and sounds, and they have to tolerate differences. Tolerating differences … Continue reading

Malaysia Is A Federation, So Let’s Act Like [It Is] One

By OOI KEE BENG. This article first appeared in Forum, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on September 26, 2022 – October 02, 2022. SOME CAMPAIGN ISSUES for the next general election are already becoming clear. But much still depends on how the coalitional possibilities work out. Should the Malay-based parties manage to come together for electoral expediency and … Continue reading

The Trap of Victimhood in the Building of Nationhood

By OOI KEE BENG, in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on August 29, 2022 – September 04, 2022. MERDEKA! I was two years old when the Federation of Malaya gained independence from Great Britain. So, in essential ways, I was born to be free. Born into a country being allowed to empower itself in the Age of Nations … Continue reading

A Good State is an Inclusive and Caring State

By OOI KEE BENG, Editorial in Penang Monthly, September 2022 DEAR CITIZEN, who cares for you? Or more succinctly, who should care for you? When we talk about the Care Industry (as we are doing in this month’s magazine), we consider the “clients” in each case, be it in healthcare, childcare, eldercare and so on. … Continue reading

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