Jakarta – Singaporean daily The Straits Times has named Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo as its 2019 Asian of the Year for "dexterity and nous in navigating the tricky cross-currents of domestic politics and international affairs".
This year has been a tumultuous one for the former Jakarta governor – Jokowi won reelection by a fairly comfortable margin in April but has since faced post-election rioting, increasing calls for Papuan self-determination and the largest student protests since 1998 in response to a number of policies issued by his administration.
The Straits Times announced the decision on Thursday, with its editors saying that Jokowi's "grounded personality, ability to connect with people [and] empathy with the common folk have won him many admirers at home" and praising his "ability to gaze beyond the horizon and grapple with strategic challenges facing his country and the region".
The President took to Twitter to express his gratitude for the award, saying that it was not only an honor for him, but for all of Indonesia.
Terima kasih. Ini kehormatan bukan untuk saya semata-mata, tapi untuk Indonesia. pic.twitter.com/01rskM4KTz – Joko Widodo (@jokowi) December 5, 2019
Last year, the newspaper named "The First Responders," a group of individuals and organizations that stepped up during national disasters, as its 2018 Asians of the Year. The group included former National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesperson Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, who died in July after battling lung cancer.
Previous winners include former Singaporean prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (kmt)