"Every year, the editors of the Straits Times pick a person, a group or an institution that, in their judgment, has significantly impacted the Asian continent in the year past. This year, the editors are pleased to recognise and honour Mr Joko Widodo, Indonesia's seventh and current President, who won a resounding victory earlier this year to retain power," the English language broadsheet newspaper remarked.
According to the Straits Times, the 58-year old president "has in more recent times put Indonesia, widely regarded as the most significant voice in the 10-member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), at the heart of the regional group."
The editors applauded several key roles played by the president at the region, such as proposing the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific to the ASEAN members. "(He also) played a key role in getting the document adopted by ASEAN leaders at a Bangkok summit in June," the Singapore's Straits Times highlighted.
In its citation for the award to the Indonesia's president, the Straits Times stated: "As the steward of a vast and disparate archipelagic nation that has more than 17,000 islands that faces Australia at one end and India at the other, he confronts many challenges, he has shown dexterity and nous in navigating the tricky cross-currents of domestic politics and international affairs. His grounded personality, ability to connect with people and empathise with the common folk have won him many admirers at home. Abroad, his ability to gaze beyond the horizon and grapple with strategic challenges facing his country and the region, has lately also been recognized".
The editors further hoped that the president continue to build up a democratic, corruption-free, open, tolerant, and an inclusive Indonesia.
In 2012, the Straits Times Asian of the Year has went to then-Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein, followed by a joint award for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2013, and to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014. In 2015, the award was given posthumously to Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's founding Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, in 2016, five Asian pioneers working in the intersection of technology and commerce were honoured as "The Disruptors", the first time the award went to a group.