Asia

Other contenders for The Straits Times Asian of the Year

Seiko Hashimoto

Japan’s Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto, 57, seemingly pulled off an impossible feat this year, somehow putting on a successful Games amid daunting obstacles.

After her predecessor resigned over sexist comments in February, the seven-time Olympian was parachuted in to lead preparations – with five months to go before the Games were to start.

The Games took place despite a chorus of calls for them to be cancelled or postponed, given that Tokyo was in the grip of a Covid-19 wave.

Still, the Tokyo Olympics ended without any significant Covid-19 outbreaks and even the sceptics agreed the Games provided a positive distraction from much of the heartache and stress of this year.

Maria Ressa


Ms Maria Ressa was named the joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

Journalist Maria Ressa, 58, was named the joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize this year. The co-founder of digital news website Rappler was recognised alongside Russian Dmitry Muratov, also the founder of a media organisation. The Nobel committee said it recognised the duo for their efforts to “safeguard freedom of expression”.

Ms Ressa has persisted amid intense pressure from the Philippine government and is best known for her reportage on extrajudicial killings taking place during President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Multiple arrest warrants have been issued against her and Rappler, and Ms Ressa still faces potential jail time if an appeal against a conviction in a cyber-libel case filed by a businessman fails.

Veerabhadran Ramanathan


Dr Veerabhadran Ramanathan’s work has been seminal in establishing that global warming is amplified by many pollutants other than carbon dioxide. PHOTO: AFP

A renowned climate and atmospheric scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, Dr Veerabhadran Ramanathan, 77, has spent decades investigating the causes of global warming.

His work has been seminal in establishing that global warming is amplified by many pollutants other than carbon dioxide. His research shed light on the role of short-lived potent pollutants like soot and methane and the super-greenhouse effect of chlorofluorocarbons. He also showed that reductions in the short-lived climate pollutants can rapidly reduce warming, and spearheaded global action against such pollutants.

This year, he received the Blue Planet Prize, given to those who have contributed to the improvement of the global environment.

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