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December 2022 is over. Now the 2020s can properly begin

Dear Friends of Penang Institute,

Now, as December 2022 ticks, ticks, ticks into January 2023, it does feel like the 2020s are finally beginning. Politically, Malaysia may now finally have a federal government that is forward-looking, responsive and that properly takes on the task of building Malaysia after the failures of Vision 2020. This was to have been the mission of the government that took power in 2018, but which was toppled for reasons that will continue to be discussed and contested for a while yet.

For Penang, having a Prime Minister from the state—Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is the second to have that honour, the first being Tun Abdullah Badawi (2004-2009)—bodes well, and should help lessen the sense of being forgotten and victimised that has often plagued the Penang mindset.

Economically, the state is also doing surprisingly well, and the problems it faces are “good” problems, such as not having enough skilled workers to service the new investments that have flowed in and will flow in, worsening traffic due to the endless inflows of domestic tourists, and challenges of further development such as water security and pressures on the environment.

The 2020s will therefore effectively be a short decade, but having been challenged in so many ways in the last three years, we can expect Penang State as a whole to aim for more balanced and inclusive development, after the expected distractions of the approaching state elections are over.

Dato’ Dr Ooi Kee Beng,
Executive Director

Penang Monthly

Penang Food at a Crossroads

Penang Food at a Crossroads is the theme of the December issue. The cover story, by Lim Sok Swan, tells how street food, the core of diverse eating habits, finds a diet that satisfies one’s taste buds while still meeting modern-day healthy nutritional guidelines. Related articles include:

Read the whole December issue here.


[Rapporteur Notes] Penang Economic Summit 2022: The Post-Pandemic Economic Reset

This document records the main discussion points made at the Penang Economic Summit 2022: The Post-Pandemic Economic Reset, organised by Penang Institute and Enterprise Asia, which was held on 20 October 2022. The conference gathered academicians, policymakers, and industry leaders to discuss critical global economic issues that are expected to shape new growth areas and investment opportunities in the post-pandemic era.

Read the entire issue here.

Suara Nadi (Malay-language series)

Siri Memandu: Hang Nak Pi Mana?

By: Izmil Amri

The “king of the road” attitude shown by many drivers makes driving depressing. The author focuses the frustration over slow traffic and the aggressive antics of road users and those from other states whose road behaviour may not fit local habits. Dispersing congested traffic and increasing entrances to Penang will not help if drivers remain unmindful of others.

Read it here.

Seminggu Merenung Laut

By: Mohamad Amin

The author talks about the relationship between him and the sea. His view is that there are still many more hidden secrets of the sea that have yet to be explored by humans.

Read it here.
Bual Nusantara - Malay Language Podcast

[EP6] Bertembung dengan Puisi, bersama Jack Malik

Jack Malik, a poet born in Ipoh, shares his early encounters with poetry, how he works and how he sees the development of literature in Malaysia, especially among young people.

Listen to the podcast here.

[EP7] Menulis, Agama, dan Kemanusiaan, bersama Fahmi Mustaffa

In a conversation recorded during this epidemic season, Fahmi Mustaffa shares the twists and turns he has faced as a writer, and how he views the world of writing, religion, and humanity.

Listen to the podcast here.

Highlights at Penang Institute
[Discussion] Productivity Mindset Initiatives 
A strategic discussion session was held at Penang Institute (PI), with a delegation from Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) and the President of the Malaysia Semiconductor Industry Association (MSIA). MPC seeks collaboration possibilities with PI for a study on organisational commitment among staff members in the manufacturing industry.

[Conference] PMI MY Northern PM 2022

The Project Management Institute of Malaysia held its PMI MY Northern PM Conference 2022 in Penang to bring together project managers within the Northern Malaysia region. This aimed to strengthen ties, and contribute to the diverse project manager community. Executive Director Dato’ Dr Ooi Kee Beng was invited to provide the keynote for the event.

[Invitation] Grand Opening of Stonyhurst International School

Dato’ Dr Ooi Kee Beng and Dr Beh May Ting attended the Grand Opening of Stonyhurst International School which was officiated by the Governor of Penang, accompanied by the Chief Minister of Penang, YAB Chow Kon Yeow, and other leaders including Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Education, YB Lim Hui Ying. Stonyhurst has approached Penang Institute for advice on environmental and other NGO activities in the state, under their Sympatheia Programme.

[Celebration] Seh Tek Tong Cheah Kongsi Winter solstice 

Dato’ Dr Ooi Kee Beng and Ms Pan Yi Chieh from Penang Institute were invited to the Seh Tek Tong Cheah Kongsi Winter solstice celebration. Cheah Kongsi, one of Penang's oldest Kongsi, upholds the tradition of honouring their ancestors and consolidating their descendants. Cheah Kongsi celebrated its 212th birthday by awarding scholarships and plaques to Cheah descendants who excelled in higher education.

[Talk] Penang Heritage Forum: Creative Cities

Lim Sok Swan and Beh May Ting represented Penang Institute at the Penang Heritage Forum, organised by the Penang Heritage Commission. The theme of the Forum was Creative Cities. Lim spoke on Penang’s Creative Economy and the Next Steps Forward, and Beh on Transformations in Penang’s Coffee Industry.

[Forum & Book Launch] The Food of Singapore Malays: Gastronomic Travels through the Archipelago
Penang Institute invited Gareth Richards of Gerakbudaya to host a forum and book launch with Khir Johari, the author of “The Food of the Singapore Malays: Gastronomic Travels through the Archipelago”, which studies the history of Malay cuisine from the seventh century to the present day, delving into particular stories behind the dishes and ingredients.

Watch it here.

[Talk] Penang Nonya Cuisine – Past, Present & Future
In an event co-organised by Penang Institute and the State Chinese Penang Association, a discussion was held between Dato’ Seri Dr. Tan Gin Soon (President of the State Chinese Penang Association) and Dr Ong Jin Teong about the defining and preserving of Penang’s Nonya cuisine.

Watch it here.
[Book Launch] Scandals and Scoundrels: A Collection of Essays on 1MDB & Related Issues

Dato’ Seri Dr Anwar Fazal was invited by Penang Institute to give introductory remarks at the launch of R. Nadeswaran’s book titled, Scandals and Scoundrels;  a compilation of articles on the 1MDB scandal and related issues which had been published in The Sun newspaper and the Malaysiakini online portal.

Watch it here.
Mass Media Opinion Pieces

For the Unity Government, a Search for the Middle Ground
(In The Edge Malaysia)

By Ooi Kee Beng

A unity government is a power-sharing structure usually formed when no single coalition is able to obtain a majority large enough to form a government. The writer draws attention to the 2022 general election following which the Agung had to call for a unity government. The divisiveness of Malaysian politics had resulted in political discourses that are so partisan that they cannot possibly take the nation-building process forward. 

Read it here.

Managing Editor: Ooi Kee Beng | Editor: Rahida Aini
Penang Institute is a non-profit Penang-based think tank and research institute set up in 1997, with a focus on facilitating dynamic and sustainable development for Penang.
Our mailing address is:
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