Research Programmes

Director of Research

Dr Tan Lee Ooi (陈利威)
Director of Research

He obtained his PhD in Southeast Asia Studies from National University of Singapore. His main research interests are about cyber politics, religious modernity and contemporary Malaysian politics. He was formerly an academician in private higher education institutions. He has published two books and several academic journal articles. His first book was published by the Penerbit UKM on the dynamics of cyberspace during the Reformasi Movement, Dinamik Ruang Siber dalam Gerakan Reformasi di Malaysia in Malay language. His second book Buddhist Revitalization and Chinese Religions in Malaysia was published by the Amsterdam University Press. He also writes opinion pieces for local media on politics, culture and media in Malaysia.

leeooi.tan@penanginstitute.org

Socioeconomics & Statistics Programme

Relying heavily on quantitative data, we identify and analyse the qualitative consequences of the many changes visited on a society that is as diverse and open as Penang’s has been, and is. We focus on assessing economic development, gender and income inequalities, industry development and the supply and demand of human capital.

Who are the team members?

Ong Wooi Leng (王慧玲)
Head

She holds two master’s degrees in Social Sciences (Economics) from the University Sains Malaysia (USM) and the National University of Singapore (NUS). She has a double major degree in her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Economics from USM. She has accumulated 11 years of experience in research, project management and policy consultation. She is now heading the Socioeconomics and Statistics Programme of Penang Institute. Her recent studies are primarily in the areas of economic development, labour market analysis, and education economics. Wooi Leng was the Chief Researcher for the Penang state biennial report entitled Penang Economic and Development Report, published by Penang Institute for 2016, 2018 and 2020. She has also reviewed a book written by Sultan Nazrin Shah on Charting the Economy: Early 20th Century Malaya and Contemporary Malaysian Contrasts published in the Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (June 2020). One of her recent publications is The Future of Jobs and Education: The Role of STEM Uptake and Employability in Penang published by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Japan (2021).

wooileng.ong@penanginstitute.org

Yeong Pey Jung (杨佩蓉)
Senior Analyst

She holds a Masters in Business from Swinburne University of Technology and a double degree in Arts (Psychology & Political Science) and Commerce (Economics) from University of Melbourne. Her main research work includes gender equality, minority marginalization and socio-economic issues in youth development. Other research interests include the Malaysia NEP, affirmative action in a welfare state, and the politics of international trade.

peyjung@penanginstitute.org

Heritage & Urban Studies Programme

We study how urban living and heritage management develop in general, and in the special case of Penang. By participating in studies and research that are of interest to the various departments of the state apparatus, we contribute to policy discussions and provide intellectual inspiration for a more holistic development of Penang.

Who are the team members?

Prof Dato’ Dr Zulfigar Yasin
Head

Zulfigar Yasin is a marine environmental ecologist and is currently an Hon. Professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia. He was involved with the establishment of many of Malaysia’s Marine Parks. He led the country’s marine expedition to Antarctica and subsequently headed various national expeditions cataloguing the marine biodiversity in the region. Born in Penang and always passionate about the sea, he subsequently studied in the UK where he took up Scuba diving. He later became one of the country’s earliest diving instructors. Over the years, his research had led him to work in many distant locations including the Galapagos, Namibia, the Seychelles, the Amazon, Tasmania, Komodo, California, Japan, Suzhou and South India. In this journey he always felt humbled by the humility and generosity of the locals and their love of the sea.

zulfigar@penanginstitute.org

Pan Yi Chieh  (潘怡洁)
Analyst

She holds a M.A. in anthropology from Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, with her thesis focusing on the historical formation of Penang Clan Jetties. Her research interests include the formation of urban space, culture and arts,and contemporary urban phenomenon. Some of her current research includes household structures and space uses of Clan Jetties’ communities (2015, a collaboration with George Town World Heritage Incorporated), as well as some writings on history and heritage.

yichieh.pan@penanginstitute.org

Siti Hajar Mohd Ariff
Statistician

Hajar graduated from Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) with a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in Industrial Statistics.

sitihajar@penanginstitute.org

History & Regional Studies Programme

Penang’s impressive growth as a cultural and economic hub was fuelled by free trade. This regionality and globality came to define the character of this “Pearl of the Orient”, and its reputation is built on this history of entrepreneurship. As on of the region’s earliest modern cities, it exerted great influence over its immediate surroundings. We continue to study with great interest the dynamics of regional politics today, alongside how governance in Malaysia responds to world events.

Who are the team members?

Dr Beh May Ting (马美婷)
Senior Analyst
 
Dr Beh May Ting holds an MSocSc in Asian Studies from Universiti Sains Malaysia (where she graduated as the Gold Medalist of the faculty during her BSocSc) and a PhD in Anthropology from Monash University. She specialises in Urban Anthropology, Food Studies, and Cultural Geography. Prior to joining Penang Institute, she was a Lecturer with the School of Arts and Social Sciences in Monash University Malaysia. During her doctoral studies, she was a Graduate Research Fellow with the Asia Research Institute in the National University of Singapore. Apart from research work, May Ting is a polyglot, athlete, and musician.
 
mayting.beh@penanginstitute.org
Fauwaz Abdul Aziz
Analyst
 
Fauwaz holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in Islamic civilizational studies from Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia. He is currently writing his PhD dissertation in Anthropology at the Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) Erlangen–Nürnberg in Germany. Prior to the Penang Institute, Fauwaz was a researcher at FAU’s Institute for Near Eastern and East Asian Languages and Civilizations (2019-2020), a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Sachsen-Anhalt (2017-2021), and researcher at the Penang-based Third World Network (2012-2017). Fauwaz has taught in Universiti Malaya in Kuala Lumpur and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Halle-Saale, Germany. His academic, personal, and professional interests are in public policy, political and socio-economy, historical and political anthropology, Islamic studies, ethnicity, inequality and Southeast Asian studies.
 
fauwaz.abdul.aziz@penanginstitute.org