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What the Penang Floods Say about Malaysian Politics (and It’s Not Just about Climate Change)

By OOI KEE BENG, South China Morning Post, 16 November 2017. EXTREME WEATHER hits most places on Earth every now and then, and recently more than ever. But when freak storms appear with an intensity stronger and more devastating than living memory can recall, it is wise to conclude that we should not take blue … Continue reading

No need to let bigots dictate policy

By OOI KEE BENG, for The Edge Malaysia, 23 October 2017. A nation starts building itself long before the nation-state is established. There were Germans before Germany was established, and there were Italians before Italy was founded. There were definitely Malayans with a sense of being Malayans before Malaya was founded in 1957. Where the … Continue reading

Is Capitalism without Socialism Sustainable?

By Ooi Kee Beng, Editorial in Penang Monthly, October, 2017 The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the end of the communist experiment, and to the extent that the experiment was an application of Marxist ideas about class conflict as the driver of human development, the reunification of Germany that followed also meant for many … Continue reading

The Art of Dismantling Cultural Pluralism

By OOI KEE BENG, “Picking on the Past”, column in Penang Monthly, October 2017. (Published on Merdeka Day, 31 August 2017 in The Malaysian Insight). MALAYSIA is a special place for its natural geography and its human history, but most importantly of all, because of its demographic complexity. The peninsula is on the western receiving … Continue reading

The Diminishing of Humans Through Identity Politics

By Ooi Kee Beng, “Picking on the Past”; Column in Penang Monthly, November 2017 (earlier version published in Forum, The Edge, Malaysia, 25 September 2017). Who am I? A simple question to ask oneself, and yet, no simple answer suggests itself. As long as the issue is about the singular person, it appears to be … Continue reading

Interview with Nurul Izzah Anwar: Rebuilding a Nation Long Divided

By Ooi Kee Beng, Penang Monthly, September 2017. Nurul Izzah, Daughter of the Reformasi, and of the jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, was pulled into politics as a young girl. Now 36 years old, she has become a major figure in Malaysian politics. The future looks bright for her, and many see her as a … Continue reading

Did Merdeka Liberate or Create Malaya?

By Ooi Kee Beng. Editorial, Penang Monthly, September, 2017 Sixty years may have passed since Merdeka Day, but its historical significance remains something we continue to debate. Did Malaya fight to free itself from an implacable Britain? Did the British offer independence to its colonies in South-East Asia to suit its own ends? Was there … Continue reading

The More Things Change, the More Things May Actually Change

By Ooi Kee Beng for The Edge, 28 August 2017 THE ELECTIONS are coming, and the array of political parties facing each other across the widening divide can be stupefying for any observer newly arrived on the Malaysian scene. It would seem therefore that a quick look at the historical context in which some of … Continue reading

One Thing is Certain—There will be More Amendments to the Constitution

By Ooi Kee Beng, Editorial, Penang Monthly, August 2017 As with all agreements, consensus and contracts, a Constitution is a hunt for a balance – and a dynamic one at that, between the expressing on one hand of lofty national aspirations and ambitions, and on the other of compromises meant to be more binding than … Continue reading

The Parochial and the Global are Intertwined

By OOI KEE BENG For The Edge, Forum July 24, 2017 In the time of Brexit and the tenure of Trump; with the triumph of Putin and the threat of Kim, instead of thinking about how Globalisation is being reversed, we should take a longer perspective and think about how the global battle in modern … Continue reading