Nov. 29, 2018

Four men of courage and two disaster relief organisations collectively labelled “The First Responders” are The Straits Times Asians of the Year.


  • 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.

  • It is given by The Straits Times, an English-language daily newspaper based in Singapore.

  • The award was first given in

  • Past Recipients:
    • 2012: Then Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein.

    • 2013: Joint award for Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

    • 2014: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

    • 2015: Posthumously to Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

    • 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. Binny Bansal and Sachin Bansal, co-founders of flipkart were among the list.

    • 2017: Chinese President Xi Jinping

2018 Awards:

  • People: The four men named for the 2018 award are as follows –
    • The late Mr Ng Kok Choong, the Singaporean paraglider who was acclaimed for his rescue work in the aftermath of the earthquake in Central Sulawesi;

    • Indian Navy helicopter pilots P. Rajkumar and Vijay Varma whose death-defying rescue flying saved dozens of lives during the floods in Kerala, India; and

    • Dr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for Indonesia's National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB)

  • Organizations: Singapore's Mercy Relief and the Jakarta-based ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management were also recognised.

  • By honouring “The First Responders”, It is only the second time the award has gone to a group since it was instituted in 2012.