Whether it was a question of face, or simply the shrewd strategic retreat of a retired general, Myanmar President Thein Sein's decision to forgo his invitation to speak in Bangkok last week remains a lost opportunity.
Aung San Suu Kyi's appearance at the World Economic Forum was always going to dominate proceedings; there is no hotter star in the global political firmament now. Her historic trip to Bangkok was a mere forerunner to her European trip later this month that will see her speak to both houses of the British Parliament and then, after 21 years, finally collect her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.
Yet, while Thein Sein is never going to match that charisma, the world still wants to hear from him. After months of unprecedented - and unforeseen - change in one of its most isolated nations, there are questions only he can answer.
Across the region, businessmen, analysts, diplomats and politicians are pondering the same issues - just how secure are the reforms he has unleashed? Is the feared military marching in step with social and democratic change? What role does he foresee for Suu Kyi, potentially his greatest international asset? And, most importantly, what are his further reform and investment priorities?
Suu Kyi, by comparison, is a moral force who appeals to our highest motives - the value of freedom, tolerance and equality. No one has ever accused her of being a technocrat. When pushed for answers beyond her calls for ethical investment or warnings of the weakness of Myanmar's court system, she sounds, at best, a work in progress and, at worst, decidedly flaky.
When a reporter asked her last week what sectors she believed should be priorities for foreign investment, she appeared to skip the question. She returned a few minutes later with a statement that she did have some ideas, but didn't want to say what they were. She had earlier urged investors to be mindful of the need to improve workers' livelihoods.
Beyond that, her words of caution about the risk of ongoing corruption would have made life difficult had Thein Sein been at the same event as planned, but not dented the demand for his own thoughts.
Some fear his absence could be a sign that he still must shore up his internal support before venturing too far out into the international arena. But the appearance of his defence minister, Lieutenant General Hla Min, at a security conference in Singapore at the weekend suggested his team is getting organised. Hla Min moved to ease Western fears as he said Myanmar had abandoned a fledgling nuclear energy programme and also cut ties with North Korea.
Significantly, he also said that the military was in line behind Thein Sein, and that its constitutionally mandated parliamentary block of 25per cent of seats could eventually be reduced.
'To be frank ... if you have a fish in fresh water, you cannot put the fish in salt water,' he said. 'You need to take time for transformation and progress.' For all his polish and apparent calm, Hla Min's performance has merely whetted the regional appetite for Thein Sein to start taking the stage.
Greg Torode is the Post's chief Asia correspondent.