S'porean businessman who co-founded Razer to cut ties with Myanmar military-backed company

An advocacy group had called for the Razer board to sack its co-founder.

Julia Yeo | February 10, 2021, 03:20 PM

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Singaporean businessman Lim Kaling announced on Tuesday, Feb. 9, that he will exit his investment in a cigarette maker in Myanmar, after the recent military coup in the country caused him "grave concern".

Razer co-founder withdraws investment in Myanmar

Lim, who is the co-founder of Singapore's Hong Kong-listed gaming company Razer, announced his decision in a statement, saying he would dispose of his one-third stake in a joint venture that owns RMH Singapore Pte Ltd, which in turn owns 49 per cent of Virginia Tobacco Company in Myanmar.

The rest of the stakes of Virgin Tobacco Company are held by Myanmar Economic Holdings (MEHL), one of two conglomerates run by the Myanmar military, according to The Diplomat.

He added that it is his only remaining investment in the country, and is exploring options for the "responsible disposal" of the stake.

Lim mentioned that the investment was initiated nearly three decades ago "under a very different circumstance", when it was a joint venture he started with a friend in 1993 as they saw an economic opportunity in Myanmar, which he claimed was "opening up to the rest of the world" at that time.

"Through this venture, we had hoped to help the country spur economic growth, create jobs, and raise standards of living," Lim's statement read.

He further added that he has always been a passive minority shareholder with no direct involvement in the operations of Virginia Tobacco.

Advocacy group called on Razer board to sack Lim due to investment

Two days before Lim's announcement, an advocacy group named Justice For Myanmar launched an online petition calling on the Razer board to sack Lim unless he sold his stake in the joint venture immediately.

After Lim's announcement, the group acknowledged his decision to end his investment in "the Myanmar military's tobacco monopoly".

Besides Lim, other companies have also been pressured by activists to withdraw from their joint ventures with MEHL.

Japanese beverage company Kirin announced that it was pulling out of a long-standing partnership with the MEHL in a statement released last week, citing concerns with the recent actions of the Myanmar military, reported BBC.

Top image adapted via Min-Liang Tan & Getty Images