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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 275 posts for Wikibeng

Naming Modern Means of Mass Transport

By Ooi Kee Beng, Penang Monthly editorial, October 2018 In the age of speedy technological innovations, thinking up names for totally new things that are not created by Mother Nature but by this innovative ape we call Man has been an exciting process. The “telephone”, the “telegram” and the “television” are some easy cases in … Continue reading

Listen up, Malaysians! You are now individually the agents of change

By Ooi Kee Beng, for The Edge Malaysia, 30 September 2018. One of the greatest challenges that faces a society coming out of a period of authoritarian rule and bad governance is the need to break away from looking to political initiatives and to politicians as the way to fix all national—and even individual—dilemmas. While … Continue reading

Taking the legacy of systemic racialism seriously

By OOI KEE BENG, for The Edge Malaysia, 1 September 2018 The intuitive conclusion drawn by many that a sea change took place when the government in Malaysia changed hands on May 9, 2018, has its merits. But as in all functioning democracies—and nowadays I count Malaysia among them—a majority vote generally means that almost … Continue reading

Now that Cavemen Have Conquered the Earth…

By Ooi Kee Beng; Penang Monthly Editorial September, 2018 When we were cavemen, we lived in caves. And in the thousands of years since then, we have lived in everything else – from lean-tos to tents to log cabins to mud huts to houses and to condominiums. But in essence, we have remained the same. … Continue reading

Mind the Young Mind

By OOI KEE BENG, Editorial in Penang Monthly, August 2018. It is often claimed that traditional Asian ways of teaching encourage students to memorise facts – so-called rote learning. The Western way, in contradistinction to this, it is claimed, is to teach children to think for themselves and to be critical – to be analytical. … Continue reading

The Deep Historical Significance of the 14th General Election*

[Published as “Revisiting national history and the significance of GE14”, in The Edge, Malaysia, 30 July 2018]. By Ooi Kee Beng Whatever one’s politics may be, one has to admit that the origins of the Federation of Malaysia are complicated and are overlaps of compromises made over time to define a middle ground that was … Continue reading

All the World’s a Stage, and Who Else but We are Responsible for the Upkeep of the Theatre

By OOI KEE BENG Penang Monthly Editorial July, 2018 All things change. We can all agree on that. But what the density and swiftness of change in modern living have taught us is that there are harsh limits. We are not passive beings in the big scheme of things; and we are not unconditionally surviving. … Continue reading

Can the Once-mighty Barisan Nasional Recover its Footing as UMNO Decides on its New Leaders?

Malaysia’s general election effectively created a two-party system but the direction that UMNO takes may push parties that have splintered from the BN closer to Pakatan, says Penang Institute’s Ooi Kee Beng. By Ooi Kee Beng, in ChannelNewsAsia, 26 Jun 2018 06:34AM PENANG: The push for Malaysia to effectively become a two-party system has suddenly … Continue reading

A Malaysian Spring for its Intelligentsia?

By Ooi Kee Beng, for The Edge Malaysia, 24 June – 1 July, 2018. Republished in the “Picking on the Pas” column in Penang Monthly, August 2018. I know Malaysia is a tropical country, but let’s adopt a concept from temperate zones without having to be politically sensitive about it. We are in the midst … Continue reading

In Lieu of Race and Religion

By Ooi Kee Beng, in the column, “Picking on the Past”, first printed in The Edge Malaysia, 27 May – 2 June, 2018. One can easily see how southern Southeast Asia, being largely maritime, ethnically very diverse and historically and geo-economically a collection of trade routes, in dividing itself into zealous and jealous nation states … Continue reading

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