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History

This category contains 45 posts

This is the Moment of Truth for Malaysia’s Race-based Politics

By Ooi Kee Beng, “This Week in Asia” in South China Morning Post, 6 December 2017. AFTER ALL the analysing done by pundits on Malaysia’s political dynamics in the post-Mahathir period, the country has now come to the strange point of being in a potential pre-Mahathir period. There is now the more-than-theoretical possibility that 92-year-old … 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

A Convincing Case for Farquhar

The immediate success of Singapore led to a grim court battle to decide who her actual founder was. That clash continues in this new and superbly researched book. BOOK REVIEW Book review: William Farquhar and Singapore: Stepping out of Raffles’ Shadow by Nadia H. Wright. Entrepot Publishing, 2017. By OOI KEE BENG The present always … Continue reading

Humility comes from realising that all understanding is biased

By OOI KEE BENG, Editorial for Penang Monthly, March 2017. “The Present” is a strange concept. For one thing, it is really not possible to think of “The Present” without relying on images of “The Past” and imaginations of “The Future”. They are after all three sneaky sides of the same strange coin. (Yes, a … Continue reading

When are we not actors in History?

By OOI KEE BENG For THE EDGE, Malaysia; 6 March 2017. THERE IS something captivating about the generation of people in Malaysia and Singapore who were born in the decades before the Japanese occupation. The times had definitely been very uncertain throughout the region. The British colonialists were arguing among themselves about how the Southeast … Continue reading

Does the National Economy Exist?

By Ooi Kee Beng for The Edge Malaysia, 31 July 2016. The income gap, technically defined, is quite an easy concept to comprehend. One can compare Gross Domestic Product per capita or per household within a given country; and collectively, one can use the Italian sociologist Corrado Gini’s measure of statistical dispersion developed in 1912 … Continue reading

Capitalism is the Exercise of the Power of Excess

By Ooi Kee Beng Editorial in Penang Monthly, June 2016. This morning (May 20, 2016), my 12-year-old daughter asked me “what is Capitalism?”. Since the Cold War is over, this is actually a harder question to answer than one may think. So if you, dear reader, do not mind, I shall use this space to … Continue reading

The Family Reunion – An Annual Pilgrimage

By Ooi Kee Beng Editorial, Penang Monthly, January 2016 So it’s that time of year again. The Lunar New Year arrives, and we witness the happy congregation of dispersed Chinese at the home of their family elders. They perform tuan yuan (reunion). In essence, they return from all corners of the land, the region and … Continue reading