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Group of seven "Disruptors" shares The Straits Times Asian of the Year 2016

SINGAPORE, 5 December 2016 - This year's Straits Times Asian of the Year award goes to "The Disruptors", a group of technological and business leaders whose path-breaking initiatives have unleashed major changes in communities around Asia and the world.  Disruption is reshaping the way people work, travel, play and socialise. Its effects look set to continue, and even intensify, in the years to come.

Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling of Grab, Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal of Flipkart, Nadiem Makarim of Go-Jek, Tan Min-Liang of Razer and Pony Ma of Tencent, collectively called The Disruptors, will share the award.

In picking the group of seven for the annual award, now in its fifth year, The Straits Times editors noted that the megatrends of transformational technology and  globalisation call for bold, innovative and path-breaking homegrown solutions that cut away from the traditional 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," the editors said in their citation, which honoured the five for their "disruptive entrepreneurship."

The founders of the five companies picked for the award, although not an exhaustive list of Asian disruptors, "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," they added. 

Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English, Malay and Tamil Media Group (EMTMG) and editor of The Straits Times, who chaired the committee that selected the winners, said: "2016 has been an especially surprising year with many political earthquakes, from Brexit to the US presidential election. The aftershocks of these will be felt for some time. These surprises are driven by underlying forces of major technological and economic change brought about 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 award citation for the seven Disruptors noted that each of them, in their 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."

"The fate and fortunes of thousands of Asian families depend on your success," said the citation. "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," it added.

In naming the group as joint winners of the award, which recognises Asians that have contributed significantly to improving lives either at home or in the wider region, The Straits Times breaks with its tradition of naming only one or two people as Asians of the Year.

The inaugural Asian of the Year, in 2012, was President Thein Sein of Myanmar. The following year it 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. 

"The Disruptors" are:

* Anthony Tan, 34, and Tan Hooi Ling, 33, co-founders of Grab, a technology company that offers a wide range of ride-hailing and logistics services through its app in Southeast Asia. The Harvard Business School graduates have built a business valued at more than US$3 billion. The Singapore-based company, which operates in over 30 cities, has entered into strategic partnerships on technology and services with China's Didi Chuxing, India's Ola and Lyft in the United States. 

* Tan Min-Liang, 39, co-founder of computer gaming hardware maker Razer Inc, headquartered in California. The Singaporean, who gave up law to start the company in 2005, has sold millions of gaming laptops, mice and tablets worldwide over the past decade. The company's valuation is estimated to be about US$1.5 billion. 

* Nadiem Makarim, 32, founder and CEO of Go-Jek, an Indonesian hyperlocal transport, logistics and payments startup founded in 2010. The Harvard Business School graduate's company, valued at US$1.4 billion, recently received funding of US$550 million, said to be one of the largest-ever for an Indonesian technology firm. 

* Sachin Bansal, 35, and Binny Bansal, 33, co-founders of India's largest online shopping service Flipkart, which commands an estimated 40 per cent share of the growing Indian e-commerce market, and is valued at an estimated US$15.5 billion.

* Pony Ma, 45, founder of China's internet services giant Tencent Holdings, who recently announced one of China's biggest philanthropic pledges ever by committing to donate 100 million company shares (worth more than US$2 billion) to a new charity fund. Tencent, best known for its gaming operation, the QQ and WeChat social networks, entertainment and other services, is one of the most valuable companies in Asia, with a market cap of US$237 billion now.

Attachment: Citations

Issued by Singapore Press Holdings Ltd
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Deror Wong (Mr) 
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Singapore Press Holdings Limited 
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About The Straits Times

The Straits Times, the English-language flagship daily of Singapore Press Holdings, is the most-read newspaper in Singapore and is followed widely in the region for its comprehensive coverage of local, regional and world news, provided by its correspondents in 20 bureaus in major cities worldwide. 

Launched on July 15, 1845, The Straits Times underwent a major redesign across all platforms in July 2015, when it celebrated its 170th anniversary. This revamp is part of its continuing efforts to refresh its products, maintain quality and stay relevant to the changing needs of its readers. Its integrated newsroom operates round-the-clock, providing readers with news as it happens on all platforms, from its website at, Apple and Android apps to social media. 

The Straits Times is a member of three regional and global networks - Asia News Network, the Climate Publishers Network and the Impact Journalism Day alliance of newspapers - and it has won multiple international media awards, including from the Society of Publishers in Asia, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association (Panpa), Society of News Design and Wan-Ifra. The paper's school outreach initiatives have won regular top awards, which included the 2015 World Young Reader Prize given by Wan-Ifra, and Best Young Reader programme award by Panpa.