10 things we learnt from Shahril Ridza Ridzuan’s interview with BFM today

10 Things We Learnt from Shahril Ridza Ridzuan’s interview with BFM today

Written by: Breakfast Grille

Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan, Managing Director of Khazanah Nasional, is from that rare breed of leaders who lead important public institutions like Khazanah, EPF and Danaharta but who also know how to protect public assets from abuse by politicians. Here are 10 things that we learnt from his Breakfast Grille session today with BFM’s Wong Shou Ning:

1. The government is entitled to ask any amount of dividend from Khazanah
Khazanah recently announced a RM2 billion dividend payout to the government, despite only making RM2.9 billion in profit for 2020.

This will have some impact on Khazanah’s long term requirement to reinvest. But given the pressure the government is experiencing to support the economy during the Covid pandemic, Shahril sees no problem in paying this higher dividend to support the government.
After all, Khazanah is 100% owned by the government.


2. Khazanah is open to its MAS stake being divested, but don’t hold your breath
Khazanah was already looking for a strategic investor to come in and take a stake in Malaysia Airlines since 2018. But now, realistically, it won’t happen until Covid is over. Airlines all around the world are too focused on surviving themselves at the moment, and most would go bankrupt without government support.


3. Do not expect Khazanah’s latest RM3.6 billion injection in MAS to be the last bailout. 
Khazanah did a deal with Malaysia Airlines’s creditors very quickly and removed RM10 billion of liabilities off its balance sheet. But when pressed whether the RM3.6 billion is the final bailout, Shahril replied, “There are no guarantees in life”. Malaysia Airlines should have, however, enough to last for five years.


4. Governments are bad at building businesses
Governments around the world tend to be poor at being business builders.The entrepreneurial streak that’s required to make it a success doesn’t exist.

Partnerships with the private sector may be the better way forward for Khazanah’s strategic investments. Shahril pointed to Holstein Milk as a good example of public-private partnerships done right, where it has emerged to become the largest producer of milk in Malaysia.


5. Khazanah is over exposed to the Malaysian market for the commercial fund
Although Khazanah’s returns for its international portion of its commercial fund was 26% in 2020, the underperforming Malaysian market dragged Khazanah’s overall two year rolling time weighted rate of return to only 1.5% in 2020.
The goal for the future is to get more exposure to companies and assets in developed economies as well as emerging markets in North Asia and India for diversification. This ensures a more consistent risk adjusted return towards Khazanah’s long-term return benchmark of consumer price index plus 3%.


6. Khazanah practices market timing
There’s a lot of liquidity in global markets resulting in euphoria around asset prices. Retail money is driving valuations to peaks. But markets are never a straight line and Khazanah will have to try and enter the markets when there are dips with a view towards building a long term portfolio. Shahril says that If you are a disciplined long term investor, over the long term, you will generate better returns than people who just trade on momentum.


7. Political appointments are here to stay
Shahril says Khazanah is not fond of political appointments. But in companies where Malayisan government owns a golden share, Khazanah accepts that the Malaysian government has the right to make appointments. 


8. Best defence against political interference are institutions with good governance
Individuals can be appointed and removed, but Shahril says if you create institutions with the right governance, the right processes, and the right strategies, the institution will outlast any government or individuals who run them. That was Shahril’s focus at EPF.


9.  Shahril does not accept Khazanah is less transparent then Temasek
Whilst Khazanah’s transparency is not to the level of Norway’s Norges, the world’s largest sovereign fund, Shahril does not accept that Khazanah’s transparency is lesser than Singapore’s Temasek.  Shahril is happy to strive for more transparency but also poses the question of whether Malaysia has a mature enough society to handle that kind of  transparency. 


10.  Will Shahril still helm Khzanah when his contract ends in August?
Shahril said it’s too premature to discuss this, it’s still a few months away. But he feels he is blessed to have had the opportunity, especially at EPF and Khazanah, to do work that has a direct bearing on the people and financial future of Malaysia.

Valencia’s Derby: Five Key Players

This derby is one of the most underrated in Spanish football, with the two teams having thrown up some classic games over the years. Here’s a look at some of the most legendary players to have starred in this fixture. 

David Villa (Valencia, 2005-2010)  

David Villa became a true legend for Valencia as he banged in the goals up front for Los Che across half a decade. During his time at Mestalla, however, he only ever featured in four city derbies due to Levante’s prolonged spell in the second tier. He wasted no time in making his mark on the city rivalry, however, single-handedly making the 2008 derby his own with a hat-trick in a 5-1 win at the Ciutat de Valencia. 

Pablo Piatti (Valencia, 2011-2016) 

The former Espanyol player enjoyed his derbies while at Valencia, scoring four times against the Granotas across 15 appearances to become the fixture’s top scorer. One of those goals came in a 2-0 league victory in 2013/14, while the other three came in a 2011/12 Copa del Rey quarter-final tie, which Valencia won by a whopping 7-1 scoreline. 

Riga Mustapha (Levante, 2005-2008) 

Levante’s biggest-ever derby victory over their city rivals was the unforgettable 4-2 success in the penultimate round of the 2006/07 season, a result which ensured their survival in the division. Ghanaian-born Dutch midfielder Riga Mustapha was the man of the hour as he netted twice, including the opener after only three minutes.  

Keylor Navas (Levante, 2011-2014) 

While Valencia have historically had more success than Levante, the so-called underdogs approached the derby in the second-to-last matchday of the 2013/14 season with a chance to move ahead of their rivals in the table. They did exactly that thanks to a 2-0 win. The goals may have been scored by Angel Rodriguez and Andreas Ivanschitz, but the real hero was keeper Keylor Navas, who pulled off a goalkeeping masterclass to deny the visitors a way back into the game. Unfortunately for Levante, a loss to Malaga on the final day of the season couple with a Valencia win saw Los Che leapfrog them to finish eighth, with Levante in tenth. 

David Albelda (Valencia, 1998-2013) 

David Albelda is a true Valencia legend, having been their captain and having made over 400 appearances for the club. The midfielder matched up against Levante 10 times during his career and had an excellent record in these derbies by winning five, drawing four and losing just once. He never scored against Levante, but that wasn’t his job. Albelda was the anchor of Che midfield, displaying grit and determination to lead his side to some important derby victories. 

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El Gran Derbi: Joaquin vs Navas

When the captains shake hands just before the kick-off in El Gran Derbi this season, it’s an encounter between two true club and city symbols: Real Betis’ Joaquín and Sevilla’s Jesús Navas are already bona fide legends for their respective institutions.  

They’re record breakers. Joaquin, for example, is the second all-time top appearance maker in LaLiga Santander, second only to the great Andoni Zubizarreta, and the most tenured active player in the league. Jesus Navas, meanwhile, has made more appearances for Sevilla in both LaLiga and all competitions than anyone in history.  

These two players are all-time icons as they’ve achieved so much for their teams. They represent the values of their respective clubs and their returns to Spanish football, in 2015 for Joaquín and in 2017 for Navas, have been a welcome addition to one of the most anticipated fixtures in LaLiga Santander and European football: the Seville derby.  

This will actually be just the ninth time they’ll meet in the Seville derby, but their derby rivalry dates all the way back to 2005. The two Spaniards first took each other on in this fixture in the 35th round of the 2004/05 season, a match with huge implications for European qualification as Real Betis’ 1-0 victory ultimately earned them Champions League qualification as they finished fourth, two points ahead of sixth-placed Sevilla.  

There hasn’t been a single draw yet in the derbies when these two players have both been involved. Joaquín has been on the winning side four times and headed in the winner for a 1-0 win in the first meeting of the season 2018/19 (their last victory), while Navas has tasted derby day glory four times against Joaquín, including in last season’s 2-0 win at the Sanchez-Pizjuan. Joaquin missed out on this season’s first meeting in January (1-1).  

This is 39-year-old Joaquín’s 21st season in professional football and 34-year-old Navas’ 18th. They’ve been starring in LaLiga Santander for so long that Joaquín actually faced current Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui once in 2001 when the tactician was a goalkeeper for Rayo Vallecano, while Navas made his Sevilla debut before his club had ever won a European trophy. They now have seven of them.  

These two players have been stewards of their clubs for almost two decades. Even though they both spent some time at other clubs and abroad, they have always remained supporters of their teams and have always been tuning into El Gran Derbi, even if from a sofa in Florence or Manchester. Now they’re both back and in the thick of it.  

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LaLiga’s Week Preview

LaLiga Santander Matchday 27 preview: Derby fever grips Valencia and Seville  

Not only is Matchday 27 important because the business end of the season has arrived, but this round is also huge because there are two historic derbies taking place on Friday and Sunday night. In Valencia, Levante UD and Valencia CF will continue their rivalry and, down south in Seville, the latest battle between Sevilla FC and Real Betis will take place with qualification for Europe on the line.  

The derby atmosphere begins from the very start of this round, as the Friday night fixture at 21:00 CET is the clash between Los Granotas and Los Che at the Ciutat de València. Their first meeting of the 2020/21 season was all the way back in the first matchday and that game was a thriller, as Valencia twice came from behind to win 4-2.  

On Saturday night, there is another derby as Atlético de Madrid face opposition from within the capital for the second weekend in a row. After drawing 1-1 with Real Madrid last weekend, the league leaders now face the short trip to Getafe CF. This is a fixture that has brought Atleti a lot of joy in recent years as Diego Simeone has faced the Azulones 18 times as coach, enjoying 16 wins and two draws while seeing his team score 34 total goals while, incredibly, conceding zero. It’s an incredible stat and it will be put to the test again this weekend.  

Then, at 9pm CET on Sunday night, there is a huge fixture as Sevilla FC and Real Betis square off at the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. With the former currently in fourth on 48 points and the latter in sixth on 42 points, this another game with major European qualification implications.  

More than that, though, it is one of world football’s most electric derby matches. Seville is a city that breathes football and these two teams have been rivals for over 100 years, splitting the city into one red half and one green half on derby day. The fact that the captains Jesús Navas and Joaquín represent their clubs so well is yet another reason why this fixture has been so special in recent seasons.  

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“Zombie Apocalypse” At Mid Valley As Crazy Sneakerheads Seemingly Breaches SOP

Date: 3:00 AM Thursday, 11 March 2021
Location: Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur

On the 11th of March, a famous Japanese high fashion shoe store named Atmos made its much-anticipated launch in Mid Valley. The excitement and dedication of fashion shoe enthusiasts were so overwhelming as they started lining up in front of the Atmos store since 3am in the morning! However, it was a worrying site as eager shoe enthusiasts were seen blatantly breaching the SOPs.

Pictures and videos posted by KLSole were circulating on Facebook showing large crowds, restlessly waiting for the opening of the new store. Some of these footages paint an awfully worrying scene, especially when the pandemic is still a health threat to the world, as people are seen sardined together with minimal physical distancing being practiced. The crowd was so large to a point that even security guards were having trouble with crowd control! In one photo, a crowd of people were seen running towards the store with a security guard rushing to contain them. Talk about a warzone!

If you’re still unable to imagine how dedicated these crowds of shoe enthusiasts were, it was reported that the line was so long that it reached the car park!

Once the shutter was finally open, people rushed in and quickly grabbed their desired sneakers. One man even walked briskly across the store with an arm full of sneakers! What a sight to behold.

Believe it or not, this Atmos store in Mid Valley is actually not the first to be opened in Malaysia. Atmos first launched their debut in KLCC back in August 2020. For the Japanese shoe brand to decide to launch another branch in Malaysia within its first year of debut, it seems that their KLCC branch is doing very well.

Considering the number of people present and the time they started to queue up (reminder: 3am in the morning!), there’s no denying that they are surely dedicated. However, do you this is the wisest way to go about getting the latest kicks, especially during a worldwide pandemic?

We at Newswav would like to remind you to be safe and always adhere to the SOP guidelines. 


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拳头游戏 如何打赢全世界?

我们常说,要成功就必须敢于创新,但是创新这条路到底有多难行?

今天“企动人心”要与你分享的故事是由布兰登贝克(Brandon Beck)和马克梅里尔(Marc Merrill)创办拳头游戏(Riot Games)的企业旅程。

从一间工作室变游戏产业龙头,Brandon及Marc的成就不仅是创造了一家企业, 最令人刮目相看的是他们颠覆了产业原有的游戏规则。

但是这一路走来,他们面对无数次的被否定,甚到也曾自我怀疑,他们所谓创新模式到底可不可行?!

Brandon(左)及Marc,自高中时代便认识。

两个爱打电玩的kaki

1990年代,Brandon及Marc自高中时代便认识,并且志同道合,两个爱打电玩的kaki,经常都相约一起打机。到了大学毕业以后,两人没有马上创业,反而是按部就班找了一份工,成为打工族。

Brandon成为一名策略顾问,Marc则是一名市场行销员。

尽管已经出了了社会工作,两个大男孩周未还是经常聚在一起打电玩,并且两人都喜欢聊一些生意点子。

直到2006年9月,24岁的Brandon及26岁的Marc,终于聊出一盘生意。两人找了30位亲朋好友成为天使投资人,集资了150万美元,决定以一间工作室(studio)的“小而美”规模,来开发电子游戏,一来可以更专注,二来也是资源有限。

在当时的电玩产业里,都是以单一玩家(Single Player)、付费买游戏光碟的模式取利。

但是Brandon及Marc却逆市而行,拳头游戏是以免付费、多玩家 (Multi Player)的模式进行,但是却会推出虚拟工具(电玩人物的皮肤)来吸引玩家消费。

冷水一桶接一桶

许多风险投资听了Brandon及Marc的融资企划后,都赠予四字真言—“祝你好运”,他们并不认为这样的商业模式是可行的。那是因为当时的电子游戏,都是靠玩家第一次购买游戏的付费来获取盈利。

包括游戏发行商也认为,卖游戏光碟是最赚钱的模式,也不认为多玩家的形式会受欢迎。

他们都不看好拳头游戏,也不认为有玩家会给钱购买只能用在虚拟世界中的工具,因为这些连摸都摸不着的东西,根本无法在现实生活里用得上。

而且在当时的电玩产业,只有低素质、评价差或不完整的游戏才会免费让人玩。所以一般上人们对免费游戏的恶劣印象就是,不好玩所以才免费。

面对冷水一桶接一桶淋过来,Brandon及Marc也会开始怀疑人生,到底他们的理念是可行吗?

但回头再想一想,Brandon及Marc始终认为,玩家会愿意尝试因为游戏是免费的,而免费又好玩的游戏,一定有本事吸引玩家继续停留。

而且免费游戏的概念在韩国已有成功案例,也开始在中国牛刀小试。

严重超支至2000万美元

在Brandon及Marc原本预估,完成第一个游戏大约需要280万美元, 既然首轮天使资金有150万美元,那么就已经解决了一半的资金问题。

这简直是太天真的设想!单单首次推出的游戏就花了2000万美元!但就是因为没做太多准备跟设想,反而让Brandon及Marc没有限制自己,更敢于去尝试。

在公司成功18个月后,拳头游戏不但还没有成功推出产品,而且还面对了一个重大危机,约有18人的团队,队友相继离开。

这让Brandon及Marc领语到,必须寻找相信公司理念及远景的有素质开发商加入,才能让团队变得强大。

除了以玩家心态来提高游戏的好玩度,Brandon及Marc还要顾及如何在科技上的配合,以做到相辅相成。

2008年6月,拳头游戏筹谋推出线上游戏”英雄联盟”(League of Legends),但两人又再度遇到几乎结业的重大危机,那就是花了百万美元投资的后台基建出了状况,必须重新建设,两人怀着忐忑的心情向董事局坦承错误,极度担心董事局会一声下令把公司关掉就算。

庆幸的是,当时风投里一位对电玩产业操作熟悉的成员,协助拳头游戏渡过危机,两人又安全过了一关!

3年后才推出第一个产品

到了2009年,已经是公司成立后的第3年了,Brandon及Marc必须在2009年秋季时推出游戏Beta版, 并让1000个玩家上线,因为只要达到了这个进度,公司才可以继续获得350万美元资金。

当时公司的现金也近乎耗尽,如果赶不上进度,没有新资金,也意味着公司很快就踏入这个存亡时刻。

事实证明“英雄联盟”Beta版的测试是非常成功的,Brandon及Marc以玩家体验为最重大的优先,因为他们所制作的游戏,就像是全体使用者共同的创作,更会将玩家对游戏规则的建议纳入,让游戏内容更丰富。如果玩家反馈有错误,也迅速修正。

“英雄联盟”运用社群力量,Brandon及Marc及团队也深入剖析玩家心理,因为深谙玩家是游戏社群的重要基石,这使它赢得全世界广泛赞誉。

慷慨让股   换资金造血

由于草创时期需要许多资金,Brandon及Marc把手上股权售出以获取资金,两人如此“慷慨”主要想法就是与其拥有一间无作为公司的大部份股权,倒不如持有一间杰出企业的小部份股权。

两人认为,当初创业时大家都只是20多岁小伙子,通过集资了别人的钱来筑自己的梦,投资人肯出资是对两人的一种信任及肯定。他们也很感恩可以拥有去追梦的机会,所以不介意只持有少部份股权。

而且股权的分散也意味着与投资人共同承担风险,Brandon及Marc始终认为,这盘生意是个疯狂的赌注。两人甚至互相调侃,自己也不会想投资在这样生意上!

与投资人的关系很讲究信任度及彼此理念是否合一,像拳头游戏这个例子,两方的合作才会开花结果。

只做一种产品 登上全球第一

拳头游戏推出产品第一年的营业额达到1700万美元,到了2011年营业额达到8500万美元!

3年后,“英雄联盟”成为全球最多人玩的电玩,同时也是电子竞技爆炸性增长的关键推动力。

不靠人海战术抢攻市场,拳头游戏只专注做好单一产品,并且不断优化、更新,延长游戏寿命,进而让它创造神话,登上全球第一。

同时,这也引来了合作多年的中国游戏巨臂腾讯的青睐,以4 亿美元收购股份,并于2015年底增持股权,让拳头游戏成为腾讯子公司。

着重玩家体验、搭配社群力量及免费经济学,让拳头游戏成为游戏产业中的明星公司。

除了线上游戏, 电竞赛事也是该公司的重要事项之一。

从一间工作室到员工3000人,拳头游戏成功稳占一席,截至2014年营业额接近10亿美元!

Brandon及Marc也于2017年两人退出管理层,专注研发游戏,主要原因是不想被日常操作的事情消耗能量,专注在公司长期的持续性发展。

为何拳头游戏会赢?

  1. 玩家永远第一:以一般企业来说,就是客户永远排在第一。拳头游戏有一支30多人的专门小组,成员包括认知神经科学博士,希望透过认知心理学,了解玩家行为,以更能投其所好,让更多玩家变成忠实粉丝。
  2. 共享才会共荣:与其拥有小公司的大多数股权,不如手握大公司的少部分股权,Brandon及Marc的“慷慨让股”心态,取代了“怕被占便宜”的心态,反而让游戏越玩越精彩,不怕输,才会赢。
  3. 颠覆才能致胜:要有多大的底气,才敢与整个大环境体系逆行?Brandon及Marc遇到无数否定也曾自己怀疑,但是还是坚守梦想,才能杀出一条血路。

‘Bus only’ rule for interstate travel borders on absurdity

COMMENT | Are you confused about the requirements for interstate travel announced by Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob on Tuesday? You should be because they make little sense for holidaymakers. The process appears to be a chore more than preparations for a leisurely outing.

The regulation that interstate travel is only allowed through registered travel agencies under the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) is a damper to promoting domestic tourism.

To add more woes to the tourism industry, he said travel agencies must use tour vehicles registered with the ministry such as tour buses. Tourism activities using privately-owned vehicles are still prohibited.

In all our domestic travel, we have never used a travel agent to book bus tickets. The last we checked, there is no such requirement for KTM either. Are MAS and Air Asia registered with Motac as travel agencies? This means travelling by air or rail is a no-no. So, let’s for argument’s sake concede and ask: What do we do if we want to spend a weekend in Port Dickson?

We checked with two travel agents in the Klang Valley and both said that they do not arrange for bus tickets for the Petaling Jaya-Port Dickson route.

They suggested that I go to the terminal in Bandar Tasik Selatan on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur and buy bus tickets from bus operators licenced by Motac.

Now, I have to jump into a Grab or take a taxi which will cost me RM40 both ways. Why don’t you make bookings online, you may ask? While it can be done for longer distances and other holiday destinations, there are none to Port Dickson.

Even if there are, we would have to pay for travel to the pick-up destination.

But the travel agents did offer to make hotel bookings for us but we usually stay at the Port Dickson Yacht Club or the Port Dickson Golf Club which we can arrange directly as we find them convenient.

It will be rather odd for people staying in border towns like Tanjung Malim, Gemas, or Tampin. Does someone staying in Tampin, Negri Sembilan have to take a Motac-registered bus to Melaka? What is the process for someone staying in Tanjung Malim who wants to travel to Kuala Kubu Baru for a round of golf?

Similarly, why can’t we choose to take the Electric Train Service (ETS) from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh? Or for that matter, fly to Penang? Answers must be forthcoming for this ‘bus only’ ruling.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Malacca chapter chairperson Goh Hock Gin said that although the move is seen as only benefitting travel agents, the consolation is that efforts are being made to help revive the tourism sector in stages.

“It is a good start and could control tourists’ movement and help in tracing them if there was an outbreak of the Covid-19 infection among the tourists, he added.

But Malacca Tourism Association president Madelina WL Kuah disagrees. She pointed out the real problem – the requirements imposed on tourists are burdensome and costly as they would have to use the services of travel agents, adding that movement was also quite restrictive compared to being allowed to use their own vehicles.

The failure to allow the use of one’s own transport is an impediment to revitalising the tourism industry which is in the doldrums. While this arrangement has worked well during festive periods when masses travel on their balik kampung, it is hardly the answer when it comes to the weekends or short trips.

Isn’t it ridiculous for someone staying in Sungai Besar, Selangor who wants to go across the river to Teluk Intan being compelled to buy a ticket from a travel agent (if there are any selling such tickets)?

Wouldn’t he or she be disgusted if there are only stage buses and no Motac-registered buses plying the route?

This may sound trivial but when the government expects us to go by the book, then it should have looked into all aspects of such arrangements before making the announcement.

While right-thinking Malaysians accept the ‘soft landing’ approach taken by the government on the return to normalcy, the consultation process with stakeholders and their input is required when coming to such decisions.

The “this you drink, this you eat” policy and the days of “government knows best” are over.

Pushing requirements down our throats without proper consultation has to stop. Did anyone even consider all the issues and related problems?

Didn’t thought go into the ‘bus only’ ruling or was it done to placate and pacify travel agents, bus owners, and operators?

Views expressed here are the writer’s own

No place for Asean to hide

Military Crackdown in Myanmar Escalates With Killing of Protesters - The  New York Times

THE 56 members of the Dewan Rakyat and the three senators are to be commended for calling on Asean to suspend Myanmar’s membership of the regional organisation.

Unless Asean does something drastic, when many are dead and gone, and Myanmar returns to some kind of normalcy, it will have damaged further its vacuous claim to being a political community.

It would seem, as a grouping, the only notion of political association driving Asean is the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs, in which case the member states might as well have remained separate as that principle is upheld in international law in the world community.

Even in international law, however, there are covenants against genocide and the use of violence domestically, with particular efforts on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) since 2005, resting on three pillars: the responsibility of states to protect its populations, the responsibility of the international community to assist in such protection, and to so protect directly when states are so clearly failing to do so.

However ineffective international law may be, it is a means of pressure to record wrongdoing, which can go further if powerful states organised around a closer community, like Asean, take action in accordance with it. In the case of Asean, the imbalance between non-interference and violations of domestic populations, is a disgrace.

Asean was not able to do something collectively about the genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar. It fell upon Gambia to take the matter to the International Court of Justice in 2019 for crimes against the community and ethnic cleansing, based on the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Where was Asean, which admitted Myanmar to the regional association in 1997, apparently because of the good that would come from engagement, rather than ostracising that country? What engagement took place after 730,000 Rohingya were expelled following killings, arson and rape. The Genocide Convention was the burning crucible within the Asean Charter’s principles of good governance and justice.

Yet Asean was unmoved, locked out by one principle only, non-interference in the domestic affairs of another country. The same holds true today following the coup on Feb 1 by the military, which now rules with force, violence and killing of its own population, who are seeking only that the outcome of the election last November be honored.

The statement by current Asean Chair Brunei immediately after the coup called for dialogue among the parties, reconciliation and the “return to normalcy”. It recalled the purpose and principles enshrined in the Asean Charter, the adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, respect for and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

This was as far as it could go, as there was no consensus to go any further. Whatever it meant was in any case quickly negated by statements from Cambodia and Thailand that what was happening in Myanmar was its internal affairs.

One wonders what Asean member states that are so quick to put up the barricades of internal affairs are storing up for their people. At some point in the future, Asean would imaginably be mumbling words of not much consequence with no action or even a firm warning. The miracle of Asean is how it has survived for so long on this diet of political meaninglessness.

The much celebrated “success” of Asean in keeping the Cambodian United Nations seat for the Khmer Rouge after Vietnam invaded that country at the end of 1979 and installed the Heng Samrin puppet regime, showed that Asean could work together (at the time the fear of Vietnam was great and Southeast Asian countries saw themselves falling like dominoes against the Vietnamese onslaught).

But it also demonstrated that the bestiality of the domestic regime was secondary to invasion, the most direct form of interference in domestic affairs of another country. The Khmer Rouge, from 1975 to 1979‬, had killed between 1.7 and three million of its Cambodian people. There always is a deathly aftertaste, when evil acts committed behind borders are sustained by keeping domestic affairs beyond the concern of others.

Without Indonesian leadership, Asean would be in absolute political wilderness. The republic’s foreign minister has been trying her best to whip up Asean action. Brunei has been active. There were strong words from Singapore and Malaysia, but nothing more as violence against civilian populations
rolls on.

Where are the others? The Asean charade cannot continue. Decisions by consensus have to be reviewed if clear-cut cases, such as Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing and killings of its own people, are allowed to stand with impunity. On Myanmar in particular, Malaysia — as one of those who pushed strongly for its membership of Asean in 1997 — has a responsibility to be more active in getting Asean to act.

Beyond that, it is about time that Asean is reformed. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, Asean continues to make decisions in a slow and ponderous manner when the need for urgency is greatest, when lives and livelihoods are at stake.

Now, when people are being mowed down in one of its member states, Asean is still not responding with clear and fast action.

Those who have made so many comments in the past about why countries must not interfere in the affairs of another should be careful what they wish for. Life is dear. Suffering has no borders. R2P is not just an international obligation and a moral duty. You could be the next victim.

Aung San Suu Kyi did herself no favours by absolving the Myanmar military of genocide of the Rohingya. Now she is in detention again as is Myanmar under military rule. What goes around comes around.

Meanwhile, Asean is up there for all to see as more interested in allowing member states to carry on within their internal borders in any way they like, without legal or ethical concern for human life.

The writer, a former group editor of NST, is visiting senior fellow and member of the Advisory Board of LSE IDEAS (Centre for International Affairs, Diplomacy and Strategy)