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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 291 posts for Wikibeng

A Tsunami of Cultural Disruptions is on the Horizon

By Ooi Kee Beng, Penang Monthly editorial, January 2019 The digital revolution that in recent years has been pigeonholed as Industry 4.0 in reality transforms modern life in more ways than merely through new products, new production processes and new consumption patterns. No doubt it has transformed the taxi industry and is undermining the hotel … Continue reading

No Bold Strategy for PH, No Real Reform for Malaysia

By Ooi Kee Beng, for The Edge Malaysia, 30 December 2018. The long-awaited change in government in Malaysia is now a fact, but the question to ask now is, how committed to across-the-board reforms can the new ruling coalition be, led as it is by a 93-year-old prime minister who is scheduled to leave within … Continue reading

Can Our Cuisine Remain the Same While We Change?

Ooi Kee Beng, Penang Monthly editorial, December 2018E Mr Ong Jin Teong, in his admirable book Penang Heritage Book: Yesterday’s Recipes for Today’s Cook (Singapore: Landmark Books, 2010), noted forlornly that many of the home-cooked dishes that he and his generation grew up with are gradually disappearing along with ageing mothers and fathers, and uncles and aunties. … Continue reading

Is Malaysian political behaviour naturally passive-aggressive?

By Ooi Kee Beng, for The Edge Malaysia, December 4, 2018. Long before Malaya could be conceived of as a nation, politics on the peninsula had been defined by identity. We blame the British for starting it all — excessively no doubt, as an easy disclaimer to please our own conscience. They supposedly divided their … Continue reading

Reading and Writing Yourself Free

By Ooi Kee Beng, Editorial for Penang Monthly, November 2018. The basis for human liberty as we understand it today was laid with the advent of universal literacy. When reading and writing stopped being the sole right of royal scribes and religious leaders in a given society, and when vernacular languages – i.e. languages actually … Continue reading

Reforming Malaysia is a Matter of Time and Timing

By Ooi Kee Beng For The Edge, 26 October 2018 Toppling a regime that had been in power for 61 years was forbidding, to say the least. But Malaysia’s voters managed to pull it off at the ballot box on May 9 this year. And it was done without any accompanying subsequent incident of violence, … Continue reading

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; and in Penang Monthly, November 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 … 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

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