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 421 posts for Wikibeng

Happy Accidents that Bred Academic Impact and Excellence: Ooi Kee Beng in conversation with Danny Quah (Part 1)

Penang Monthly, January 2023 One of the most influential academics and economists in the world today is Penang boy, Danny Quah. A citation impact study done in 2020 by Stanford University placed him in the top 1% of scientists in the world, in effect recognising him to be among the 100 most influential academics in … Continue reading

Words and Music—Two Sides of the Sense of Hearing

By Ooi Kee Beng, Editorial for Penang Monthly, March 2023  MUSIC HAS ALWAYS been a phenomenon to savour for the great thinkers. One can sense how these master craftsmen of words relished being stumped when it came to analysing music. Compared to how eloquent they could be about almost anything else, they were simply at … Continue reading

Malaysia’s Moral Revival is Anwar’s Bridge Between Divergent Discourses

“There has thus been a strong push in Malaysian political life since 1998 for systemic changes, which has profoundly informed the political thinking of a generation or two of Malaysians. A proper culmination has been necessary. We thought 2018 was that culmination, but it was not. Now we hope that 2022 is that culmination.” By … Continue reading

Why Cultures Co-Exist Better Than Ethnicities

By Ooi Kee Beng, Feature in Penang Monthly, March 2023 ABOUT 30 YEARS ago, a very influential Malaysian scholar wrote the following incisive and insightful paragraphs: “I contend that, like most social phenomena, identity formation takes place within what I would call a ‘two social reality’ context: first, the ‘authority-defined’ social reality, one which is … Continue reading

The Dubious Grouping of Ages

By OOI KEE BENG I ASSUME THAT he who sees a cup as half empty will try to conserve what he has, while he who sees a cup as half full will proceed to fill it further. I also assume that those who have lived longer tend to be more conscious of what has been … Continue reading

What Are We to Do With You Millennials?

By OOI KEE BENG, February 2023 Editorial, Penang Monthly. I HAVE TO admit something. Before returning to Penang to work in 2017, I had hardly ever used the word “millennial”. Looking back, I think that was because I was in academia and was then, for a long time, attached to an established think tank in … Continue reading

Anwar Must Pull Malaysia out of its Self-made Hole

By Ooi Kee Beng, “Picking on the Present”, column for The Edge Malaysia, 28 January to 3 February 2023 It had seemed obvious to some observers of Malaysian politics back in 2008, after the fateful elections that saw five states fall into the hands of the opposition and the Barisan Nasional (BN) lose its super-majority … Continue reading

The Educational Origins of Penang’s Skills Mismatch and Brain Drain

By OOI KEE BENG, January 2023 Editorial in Penang Monthly. EDUCATION IS REGARDED as a human right today. Therefore, most modern states, barring those who expressly consider public education to be a threat to their continued exercise of political or religious power, have felt duty-bound to provide some level of formal schooling to every one … Continue reading

For the Unity Government, a Search for the Middle Ground

By Ooi Kee Beng, Picking on the Present column in The Edge Malaysia, 26 December 2022 A UNITY GOVERNMENT never sounds like something one should be opposed to, and for good reasons. What is interesting about such a government though, is that they become necessary in a democracy when the posturing and the stances taken … Continue reading

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