Penang serves as a case study in exploring the issue of identity and integration from the politico-administrative, economic, and socio-cultural including religious aspects. Penang’s experiences of integration at various levels (immediate neighbours, regional, and international) and aspects (political, economic, and socio-cultural) is examined to determine its unique identity, and the causal factors for its integration and non-integration from within (Malaysia) and without (Southeast Asia).
In Prof. Ooi Keat's study, identity and integration are examined at two levels, viz. Penang as a politico-administrative entity vis-à-vis other neighbouring territories, and on the multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious population inhabiting the port-city of George Town in particular and of Penang in general. The advantageous as well as the downsides of integration are determined in evaluating the costs and the risks involved, groups that benefited and others side-lined or overlooked. How marginalized sectors (agriculture) and communities (minorities) respond will be addressed.The historical perspective (1780s-2010s), the longue durée approach, is utilised in examining the causal factors for integration and non-integration of Penang within Malaysia and in the Southeast Asian region. The historical method of examination, interpretation, analysis, and evaluation is applied. Qualitative research approach is adopted based on primary archival materials and secondary literature.