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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 350 posts for Wikibeng

Amused at Fort Cornwallis

By OOI KEE BENG. Penang Monthly Editorial April 20201 AT THE WATER’s edge, my soul sighs. This has something to do with the sound of waves. Things may seem serene, but I cannot forget the power the sea withholds. I am lured by the ceaseless roll of water on sand the way I am persuaded … Continue reading

Pandemic or not, there is no such thing as “de-globalisation”

By Ooi Kee Beng, in The Edge Malaysia, 28 March 2021 WHILE THE Covid-19 pandemic is sometimes portrayed as globalisation hitting a wall, it has at the same time raised public consciousness that globalization as a whole has gone beyond a point of no return. You see that paradox in how local remedies to the … Continue reading

Southeast Asia Needs to Stop Being a Frontline for Global Conflicts

By OOI KEE BENG, in The Compass, December 2020 #6, Jeffrey Cheah Institute for Southeast Asia. THE TWO-YEAR-OLD trade war between the United States and China is in many ways a proxy conflict, the real issues not merely being about trade conditions but more being about the global strategical and ideological issues that have emerged … Continue reading

Gender Relations: A Wrestle or a Dance?

    By OOI KEE BENG, Penang Monthly editorial, March 2021. SOCIOLOGY IS THE study of how a certain society functions, and central to that ambition is the study of how different genders relate to each other in that society. Getting to know the latter, however, requires socio-psychological insights into how the power relations between … Continue reading

Fairness is the Virtue that Can Reset the World

By OOI KEE BENG For The Edge Malaysia, 28 February 2021. THE THINGS that split members of a society come in all shapes and sizes; but they all boil down to a play on the human sense of fairness. This sense can be individual or collective, current or historical; and it can be either concrete … Continue reading

Malaya Before Merdeka: Mirrored in the Life of H.S. Lee

[Author’s speech at the online Book Launch: Ooi Kee Beng: As Empires Fell. The Life and Times of Lee Hau-Shik, Malaya’s First Finance Minister (ISEAS Publishing 2020): 27 August 2020] OOI KEE BENG (Executive Director, Penang Institute; Senior Fellow, Jeffrey Cheah Institute for Southeast Asia, Sunway University, and; Visiting Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak … Continue reading

Top Policy Priorities in the Wake of the Crisis

By OOI KEE BENG, Editorial, Penang Monthly, February 2021 AS COVID-19 steadily dismantles the Old Normal, our uncertainties get more and more focused on basics. No longer do we worry as much about that continually postponed overseas trip as much as we do about whether we are allowed to exercise in the neighbourhood park. No … Continue reading

In a Pandemic, Science and Statesmanship Must Tactically Converge

For The Edge Malaysia, 30 January, 2021 In times of political crisis, minds are moved to investigate fundamental concepts such as power and representation—and legitimacy, the shorthand for the relationship between these two terms. This bearing is more pertinent than ever during a pandemic. Our age—the era of the nation state—generally proffers two public arguments … Continue reading

“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