An animated President Joko Widodo addresses the press at the State Palace in Jakarta in June. (Antara Photo/Wahyu Putro A.)

Straits Times Asian of the Year 2019: Jokowi, 'A Unifying Figure in Age of Chaos and Disruption'

DECEMBER 05, 2019

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has been named by Singaporean daily The Straits Times as its Asian of the Year 2019 for being "a unifying figure in an age of chaos and disruption." The 58-year-old was praised by the paper's editors for his "dexterity and nous in navigating the tricky cross-currents of domestic politics and international affairs."

Under his leadership, Indonesia is now "the most significant voice in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations [Asean]," according to the paper. 

The Straits Times said the president's ability at home to empathize "with the common folk have won him many admirers."

"Abroad, his ability to gaze beyond the horizon and grapple with strategic challenges facing his country and the region has lately also been recognized," it also said.

The former Solo mayor, now a two-term president after winning April's election, was also praised for his quest to build "a democratic, corruption-free, open, tolerant and inclusive Indonesia."

The Straits Times' Asian of the Year title was first awarded in 2012.  

"Each year, Straits Times editors seek out a person, team or organization that has not only made or shaped the news, but helped contribute positively to Asia in the process. President Joko Widodo has done that to great effect. Not only has he won a second term, he has done his part to keep a vast and disparate Indonesia together and taken it forward," the paper's editor Warren Fernandez said.

The paper's previous Asians of the Year include Chinese president Xi Jinping and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and India’s prime minister Narendra Modi. Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew was given the title posthumously in 2015.