ST Asian of the Year 2019: Jokowi a respected leader at home and abroad

Indonesia President Joko Widodo speaking at a press conference in Jakarta, on Aug 26, 2019.
Indonesia President Joko Widodo speaking at a press conference in Jakarta, on Aug 26, 2019.PHOTO: AP

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who won a solid vote of confidence for a second and final term in office after an election in April, has been named The Straits Times' Asian of the Year.

The editors unanimously picked Mr Joko, 58, for having "cemented his local and global standing by not only retaining his office with a handsome margin, but also spearheading the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific", a document adopted by the 10-nation bloc in June, reasserting its centrality in the region amid the strategic rivalry between the United States and China.

Better known as Jokowi, the self-made man rose from humble beginnings, becoming mayor of Solo, a city in central Java, then governor in Jakarta, before becoming leader of South-east Asia's largest country as well as economy, with nearly 270 million people. The citation yesterday said he has "shown dexterity and nous" while ruling the nation.

In his pursuit of progress and growth, with the emphasis on infrastructure development, he has not lost sight of the values of unity and harmony, so crucial in a Muslim-majority nation of diverse cultures and faiths, and where religion has become a highly politicised issue.

As the President confronts challenges in the next five years of his term, editors of The Straits Times expressed the hope that he will "give no quarter and make no compromise in his quest to build a democratic, corruption-free, open, tolerant and inclusive Indonesia".

Now in its eighth year, The Straits Times' Asian of the Year award recognises an individual or organisation that has significantly impacted the Asian continent in the past year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2019, with the headline 'Respected leader, at home and abroad'. Print Edition | Subscribe