Karim Raslan is an acclaimed Southeast Asian commentator and columnist. He is the founder and CEO of the KRA Group, a public affairs consulting firm with an ASEAN-wide focus. A graduate of the University of Cambridge, he has developed a deep understanding of business and politics across Southeast Asia, especially of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

His column, Ceritalah—which means “tell me a story” in Malay and Indonesian—has been running in various formats and publications for 25 years. It discusses socio-political developments and current issues in the region.

The column’s latest incarnation, Ceritalah ASEAN, takes a ground-up approach to storytelling and is published online in seven countries and seven languages. Karim has also appeared as a commentator on Southeast Asia with the BBC, CNN, CNBC, Al Jazeera and Bloomberg.

He is the author of five books, “Ceritalah: Malaysia in Transition,” “Heroes and Other Stories”, “Ceritalah 2: Journeys through Southeast Asia” and “Ceritalah 3: Malaysia the Dream Deferred” as well as his first Bahasa Indonesia-language book, “Ceritalah Indonesia”.

He has also helmed three documentaries, including “Ceritalah Malaysia” (2012), “Ceritalah Indonesia” (2014), in the lead-up to elections in those countries as well as “Keberagaman Agama” (Religious Diversity”, 2017), about Indonesia’s tradition of pluralism.

He can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @fromKMR.


Ceritalah ASEAN is an unprecedented, ground-up storytelling initiative by Southeast Asian commentator Karim Raslan that is the culmination of nearly twenty-five years of travelling and column writing across the region. Karim’s columns have appeared in multiple languages, including English, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Thai and Burmese.

The Ceritalah ASEAN columns are syndicated in Indonesia (Kompas.com), Malaysia (Astro Awani, The Malaysian Insight and Sin Chew), the Philippines (ABS-CBN), Vietnam (Tuoi Tre), Thailand (Post Today), Myanmar (The Irrawaddy) and Hong Kong (South China Morning Post).

The columns are now augmented by an extensive social media presence, including Facebook in targeted language markets.



It has been argued that we are now living in the Age of Big Data. Events and trends can now allegedly be anticipated by processing huge data sets, as quintillions of bytes of information become increasingly available.

However, Big Data failed to predict the rise of Donald Trump and Brexit. While understanding data remains vital, numbers alone cannot capture the nuances of human sentiment. As much as we wish for a world without biases, human nature begets chaos and unpredictability.

This means that—in terms of understanding politics and business, especially in diverse regions like Southeast Asia—there’s simply no substitute for being on the ground. Moreover, the real story of regional integration, of what’s going on in the individual states, can only best be understood through the lenses of ordinary people who are often at the peripheries of their society: youths, petty traders and peasants.

This is why Ceritalah ASEAN matters. It encapsulates my approach to story-telling which I have refined through the decades, of seeking to capture the lives of ordinary people from the ground-up. At a time when we are inundated with a torrent of information, Ceritalah ASEAN strives to provide a razor-like focus on what really matters.