Straits Times Asians of the Year awarded to The Disruptors
By Ravi Velloor
05 December 2016

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN) - The Straits Times awarded this year's Asian of the Year to seven entrepreneurs operating at the frontiers of technology's interface with business, collectively calling them "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.

Nadiem Makarim of Go-Jek, Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling of Grab, Tan Min-Liang of Razer, Pony Ma of Tencent and Sachin Bansal and 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 Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding father.

Citation for the award

In an Asia swept up in the cross currents of transformational technology and globalisation, many worries abound.

Will the region see a fresh wave of domination by global firms bringing their expertise and insight to tap into its vast markets?

Will jobs disappear as artificial intelligence, automation and digital advancements speed up the onshoring phenomenon, whereby Asia's biggest export markets can make their own goods at low cost at home?

These megatrends call for bold, innovative and path- breaking home-grown solutions that cut away from old moulds of doing business.

In Asia, the future lies in the hands of the men and women at the forefront of this nascent revolution - or, as we call them, The Disruptors.

Each of you, in your own way, has 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.

You have been early movers in localising global technologies and business models to improve the lives of Asians and create industry-leading companies.

The fate and fortunes of thousands of Asian families depend on your success.

While you are not the only Asian disruptors, you embody the courage, enterprise and innovation that will help Asia not only survive but thrive in a world where no region is spared the upheaval of digital disruption.

This award also comes with the hope that your work will not submerge or ignore the common good, that you will operate with concern for the environment and in a manner that will not impede fair competition, and that you will not strive for the trampling of traditional forms of business beyond the normal pressures of a competitive market.

The Asian of the Year award recognises a person, or people, who have contributed significantly either to their nations, or the wider Asian continent.

In naming you, The Disruptors, as our Asians of the Year, we signal our awareness that Asia's future lies with people such as you, with the ability and vision to guide the destiny of our nations in a time of rapid change.

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