Straits Times Asians of the Year: The Disruptors

Seven people operating at the frontiers of technology's interface with business, collectively called "The Disruptors", are this year's Straits Times Asians of the Year.

Mr Nadiem Makarim of Go-Jek, Mr Anthony Tan and Ms Tan Hooi Ling of Grab, Mr Tan Min-Liang of Razer, Mr Pony Ma of Tencent and Mr Sachin Bansal and Mr Binny Bansal of Flipkart were chosen from a crowded field by the editors of The Straits Times for the annual award.

Breaking from tradition, editors of the 171-year-old newspaper this year chose to name a cluster of individuals, recognising that credit for the changes sweeping the continent are too widespread to be pinned to a single individual's breast. Accordingly, the names include business leaders from Asia's big-population nations - China, India and Indonesia - as well as from Malaysia and Singapore.

The award citation noted that each, in his or her own way, had "made the inevitable march of technology easier to understand and accept by millions of people concerned about their old ways of life yielding to an unfamiliar new one".

Selection committee chairman Warren Fernandez, who is the editor-in-chief of the English, Malay and Tamil Media Group of Singapore Press Holdings as well as ST editor, noted that 2016 had been an especially surprising year politically. "These surprises are driven by underlying forces of major technological and economic change brought about by the disruption that is sweeping across just about every sector of our economies and societies. Exactly how people, governments and businesses respond to these changes will have major political and electoral implications in the years ahead."

 

The Asian of the Year award recognises a person or people who have contributed significantly to improving lives at home or in the wider region. The inaugural Asian of the Year, in 2012, was then Myanmar President Thein Sein. The following year, the award was shared by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Xi Jinping of China. In 2014, the award went to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and, last year, it was awarded posthumously to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding father.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2016, with the headline 'The disruptors'. Print Edition | Subscribe