Ooi, Keat Gin 1959-
Ooi, Keat Gin 1959-
Born October 10, 1959, in George Town, Penang, Malaysia; son of Ewe Boo (a manager of a rubber plantation) and Ai Gek (a homemaker) Ooi; married Beh Swee Im (a cardiac technologist), October 20, 2002. Ethnicity: "Chinese." Education: Universiti Sains Malaysia, B.A. (hons.), 1983; National University of Singapore, M.A., 1991; University of Hull, Ph.D., 1995. Religion: "Buddhism/ Daoism/Confucianism." Hobbies and other interests: Travel, cooking, reading, family activities.
Home—Penang, Malaysia. Office—School of Humanities, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Penang, Malaysia. E-mail—[email protected]
High school history teacher and department head in Sarawak, Malaysia, 1983-88; senior high school teacher in Penang, Malaysia, 1989-90; Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, assistant lecturer, 1991-92, senior research fellow, 1992-95, lecturer, 1995-2002, associate professor of history, 2002—. State Museum of Penang, historian, advisor, and member of board of trustees, 1996-2005; Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, historian and consultant, 1997-2001; State Art Gallery, committee member, 2004-05.
European Association for Southeast Asian Studies, Malaysian Historical Society (Penang branch), Malaysian Association for the Prevention of Tuberculosis, Royal Historical Society (England; fellow), Royal Asiatic Society (Malaysian branch), Sarawak Association (England; life member), Association of South-East Asian Studies in the United Kingdom, Old Frees' Association (life member), Sabah Society.
Pingat Jasa Kebaktian, 2002; citations for best reference work, Library Journal, 2004, and outstanding academic title, Choice, 2005, both for Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor.
The History of St. Xavier's Institution, Penang, 1852-1992, La Salle Christian Brothers (Penang, Malaysia), 1992.
World beyond the Rivers: Education in Sarawak from Brooke Rule to Colonial Office Administration, 1841-1963, Department of South-East Asian Studies, University of Hull (Hull, England), 1996.
(Editor and author of introduction) Japanese Empire in the Tropics: Selected Reports and Documents of the Japanese People in Sarawak, Northwest Borneo, 1941-1945, two volumes, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 1998.
Rising Sun over Borneo: The Japanese Occupation of Sarawak, 1941-1945, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Malaysia, revised edition, American Bibliographical Canter-Clio Press (Santa Barbara, CA), 1999.
One Hundred Years of Tin Smelting, 1898-1998, Escoy Smelting (Penang, Malaysia), 2001.
From Colonial Outpost to Cosmopolitan Centre: The Growth and Development of George Town, Penang, from Late 19th Century to Late 20th Century, Asia-Pacific Research Program, Academia Sinica (Taipei, Taiwan), 2002.
(Editor, with Laurence Loh Kwong Yu) Early Views of Penang and Malacca, 1660-1880, Museum Board (Penang, Malaysia), 2002.
Contributor to books, including Southeast Asian Minorities in the Wartime Japanese Empire, edited by Paul H. Kratoska, RoutledgeCurzon (London, England), 2002; and From Buckfast to Borneo: Essays Presented to Father Robert Nicholl on the 85th Anniversary of His Birth 27 March 1995, edited by Victor T. King and A.V.M. Horton, Center for South-East Asian Studies, University of Hull (Hull, England), 1995. Contributor to Asian studies journals, including Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Modern Asian Studies, Indonesia and the Malay World, and Sarawak Museum Journal.
Keat Gin Ooi told CA: "Two motives basically spurred my writing passion. Just the sheer joy of putting my thoughts to paper or computer screen is an encouraging force that makes writing, not a task to get over with, but an enjoyment to savor. The second encouragement lies in the hope that my writings will promote greater understanding of the past that can in turn contribute to planning for the future. History brings forth the good, the bad, and the ugly in human nature, and it is my intention that we should know more about ourselves. Understanding encourages tolerance, while ignorance breeds suspicion. Utilizing historical writings to disseminate knowledge and understanding among people of different background, culture, religion, creed, and ethnicity is an essential step toward peaceful coexistence.
"The greatest influence on my work is the immeasurable contributions of scribes, artisans, scholars, and diarists who wrote of ancient times. Without the written word, ancient wisdom, knowledge, and skills would be unimaginable in the present. I am deeply fascinated and awed at the written word and the system of writing. No particular individual has influenced my work; all scholarly writings with a bias toward history are a great inspiration to me. Of my contemporaries from various corners of Southeast Asia in particular and throughout Asia in general, I wish to see more of their works in indigenous languages made available in English for a wider, global readership.
"As a professional historian, putting ink to paper [or computer equivalent] is the culmination of a long-winded process that starts with putting my thoughts and ideas on paper. After that I follow the paper trail at the archives, libraries, and other repositories. When data collection is concluded, reading and analyzing become the major preoccupation. When all the materials are sorted out, I begin to write. I invest a lot of time in planning the organization of a book. I believe that if I get it right from the layout stage, the rest tends to flow and fall in line as the writing proceeds. I have no set order in writing; the completion of chapter four does not necessarily mean that I begin work on chapter five. Exceeding a prescribed word limit is my norm; cutting down is a struggle and emotionally draining, but sometimes it can be fun as well. I make it a point to complete manuscripts at least a fortnight prior to the deadline. It is a habit to have peace of mind, knowing that the project is finished.
"Here are some comments on the objectives behind some of my writings. In composing Of Free Trade and Native Interests: The Brookes and the Economic Development of Sarawak, 1841-1941, my aim was to show the maverick character of James Brooke and of the Brooke White Rajahs in their uniqueness as colonizers of Asian peoples and territories. The Brooke tradition of protecting and promoting the interests of the indigenous inhabitants from foreign (European and Chinese) encroachment and exploitation, corruption, and contamination was singularly admirable in the era of European imperialism throughout Asia and Africa during the second half of the nineteenth century. While Japanese Empire in the Tropics: Selected Reports and Documents of the Japanese People in Sarawak, Northwest Borneo, 1941-1945 was about the wartime situation in Sarawak from eyewitness accounts of various participants, on the other hand Rising Sun over Borneo: The Japanese Occupation of Sarawak, 1941-1945 offered a professional historian's interpretation and perspective. I wrote From Colonial Outpost to Cosmopolitan Centre: The Growth and Development of George Town, Penang, from Late 19th Century to Late 20th Century to showcase the historical roots of my home city of George Town, Penang. Penang, a little tropical island on the northeast of the northern mouth of the Straits of Melaka is where I was born and educated, and where I live today with my family. Here lie my heart, my home, and my love. My aim in Southeast Asia: A Historical Encyclopedia, from Angkor Wat to East Timor was to offer a user-friendly, dictionary-style source for facts and figures and understanding of the historical development of Southeast Asia as a whole region and as a collection of individual nation states, presented in a simple, non-technical format for a non-specialist audience."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Journal of Asian Studies, August, 2002, Craig A. Lockard, review of Rising Sun over Borneo: The Japanese Occupation of Sarawak, 1941-1945, pp. 1121-1123.
Pacific Affairs, spring, 2000, Bill Sewell, review of Rising Sun over Borneo, pp. 149-150.