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Penang: Once Cosmopolitan, Always Cosmopolitan

By OOI KEE BENG, Penang Monthly Editorial, October 2022 URBAN CENTRES, by their very nature of having concentrated populations, tend also to place people from different backgrounds in close proximity to each other. These people have to share space; they have to share smells, sights and sounds, and they have to tolerate differences. Tolerating differences … Continue reading

Malaysia is a federation, so let’s act like [it is] one

By OOI KEE BENG. This article first appeared in Forum, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on September 26, 2022 – October 02, 2022. Some campaign issues for the next general election are already becoming clear. But much still depends on how the coalitional possibilities work out. Should the Malay-based parties manage to come together for electoral expediency and … Continue reading

The Trap of Victimhood in the Building of Nationhood

By OOI KEE BENG, in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on August 29, 2022 – September 04, 2022. MERDEKA! I was two years old when the Federation of Malaya gained independence from Great Britain. So, in essential ways, I was born to be free. Born into a country being allowed to empower itself in the Age of Nations … Continue reading

A Good State is an Inclusive and Caring State

By OOI KEE BENG, Editorial in Penang Monthly, September 2022 DEAR CITIZEN, who cares for you? Or more succinctly, who should care for you? When we talk about the Care Industry (as we are doing in this month’s magazine), we consider the “clients” in each case, be it in healthcare, childcare, eldercare and so on. … Continue reading

E&E and E&E: Penang’s Two Economic Legs Showing Strong Muscles

By OOI KEE BENG, Penang Monthly Editorial, August 2022 AS WITH Singapore three decades later, Penang, on being taken over by the British in 1786, immediately depended on the benefits of being a free port. The contingencies of such an economy quickly came to define most of what we consider Penang Culture today. This unique … Continue reading

A National Reset Recipe: Federation Building, Global Learning and Social Justice

By OOI KEE BENG for The Edge Malaysia, 27 July 2022 FOR MALAYSIA post-­Vision 2020, what can a systemic reset mean? Will changing governments change the system enough? Will reforming this or that legislation or even a constitutional principle alter the societal dynamics of this diverse country? Maybe. Maybe not, with a much stronger leaning … Continue reading

Trusting Remains a Process that Takes Time in the Information Age

ONCE UPON A time, information was generated slowly and carefully. The time and distance between thought, expression, dissemination and reception were substantial. Most of us do realise that the disruptions that information & communication technologies bring are inevitable. They are a flood that you ride and manoeuvre, or that you drown in. Standing by the … Continue reading

What Do Straits Do—Separate or Connect? [Part One]

By Ooi Kee Beng, EDITORIAL in Penang Monthly, June 20 DOES THE PENANG Strait separate Seberang Perai from Penang Island or does it connect one to the other? This question is not as glib as it may sound at first reading. We do think of bodies of water as things that separate the pieces of … Continue reading

Malaysians Must Surely Be Tired to Death of Racialism By Now

By OOI KEE BENG, for THE EDGE MALAYSIA, 28 June – 3 July 2022 The Covid-19 pandemic experience has brought with it profound changes in the mindset of all of us who have had to rethink their lives, their work, and their ambitions. The term The Great Resignation has been bandied around to denote the … Continue reading

Relating Tales of Dislocated Culture

INTERVIEW with Souvantham Thammavongsa By Ooi Kee Beng May 2022 FEATURE in Penang Monthly AUTHOR SOUVANKHAM THAMMAVONGSA’S initially hesitant demeanour over Zoom belies the writing style of her debut short story collection, How to Pronounce Knife. She mobilises everyday words and turns of phrase to rouse readers from emotional lethargy, rewarding them in the process with jabs … Continue reading