Celebrate Future Young Leader’s Ideas about Southeast Asia’s Digital Economy: TFGI Essay Competition 2022 Prize Ceremony

On 31 January, Tech For Good Institute (TFGI) successfully held the prize ceremony for its inaugural essay competition, themed “Shaping the Future of Southeast Asia’s Digital Economy” together with a panel discussion with industry leaders from the education, social and technology sectors. Read the keynote speech here

Themed “Shaping the Future of Southeast Asia’s Digital Economy”, the competition is among the Institute’s latest initiatives to make leaders of tomorrow think critically about the future of the digital landscape they will shape as digitalisation rapidly transforms Southeast Asia (SEA). The 2022 essay competition was one of TFGI’s latest initiatives to foster critical thoughts among future leaders. Participants in the essay competition were 18-35 years old from 6 SEA countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. Overall 140 entries were received, and top three entries were selected from each of the Southeast Asian partner universities. To view the full list of winners, please see the table below.

Some examples of the diverse topics submitted this year are cybersecurity, green digital finance and sustainable digitalization. TFGI is also set to publish these winning essays titled “Shaping the Future of the DIgital Economy”, which will be available for online access in July 2023.

Speakers and panelists:

  • Dr. Ming Tan, Founding Executive Director, TFGI
  • Dr. Roberto Martin N. Galang, Dean of the John Gokongwei School of Management, Ateneo De Manila University
  • Mr. Matin Mohdari, Strategy Director, TFGI
  • Ms. Lim Ee Ling, Executive Director of Global Programmes, 500 Global
  • Mr. Tharmelinggem Pillai, Advocacy Director and Co-Founder, Undi18
  • Mr. Thanakorn Phromyos, CEO and Co-Founder, YoungHappy Co.Ltd

Key highlights of the event:

  • Southeast Asia should strive to leverage digitalisation for inclusive growth. In the post-pandemic era, digitalisation has turned into a powerful force for economic growth as almost any transactions or purchases can be done online. From new technology applications in e-commerce, transportation, food delivery to financial services, the pandemic has increased our dependence on technology. Yet, despite such prevalence of digital applications, not everyone has equal digital access. Those who live in isolated communities have difficulties finding stable Internet connections, and those from low-income households may not have necessary facilities like computers or smartphones. To achieve sustainable digital growth, technology innovators need to be mindful of how technology should be used for a force of inclusion rather than exclusion.
  • Technologies should be designed with user-centricity as the focus to maximize usability and adoption. Age and culture play an important factor in how we utilise technology. The elderly for example are used to pressing buttons on cell phones instead of touching the screen, hence it is important to consider such preferences in the design of smartphones. While it may be trendy to chase after the latest technological trends, it is crucial that we take a step back to tackle the underlying issues that people face. In technological design, humans should be at the center, not the sideway, of the process.
  • The approach to bridging digital adoption gaps within society requires understanding and humility. In ASEAN countries, youths account for 34% of the population. While typically more tech-savvy, youths should not ignore the role of older generations in this journey of digital transformation as they can have valuable experience and lessons to pass on. Instead youths should put on the cap of a humble learner and acknowledge the learnings that the older generation can provide. By listening, we can strive towards including intergenerational voices to achieve a balance between new and old, breakthrough and standard, bridging the gap between generations.

Catch up on the event below:

Tech For Good Essay Competition Winners

Prize Winner Essay
1st Tan Kang Min Artificial Intelligence for Good
2nd Reynard Chai Yu Cheng Equity Development in 4 Industrial Revolution
3rd Larioza Andrea Ronquillo Further Applications of Edge Computing

Prize Winner Essay
1st Maria Angelica Therese Loria 58 to 56: Philippines Challenged to Ride the Next Digital Wave – Beginning to unlock the keys to fully capturing the country’s digital opportunities
2nd Gerald John C. Guillermo Conducive Policies, Enabling Environment: Shaping the Southeast Asian Digital Economy Toward Growth, Inclusion, and Innovation
3rd John Macneil Mendoza The Future is Digital - and Green too?

Prize Winner Essay
1st Winny Wong Introduction to Digital Economy and its influences on countries in Southeast Asia
2nd Siti Baradiah Binti Sharif The Digital Economy’s Influence on Southeast Asia
3rd Jessica Ong The Need to Enhance Cybersecurity of Southeast Asia’s Digital Economy

Prize Winner Essay
1st Nila Armelia Windasari Tech for improved wellbeing: Promoting mindful users, Can We?
2nd Sachi Hongo The Importance of Personalization and Trust in the Digital Economy Era through Digital Platform
3rd Irka Wijaya Pulling The Brake Lever for Indonesia’s Digital Economy Roller Coaster Ride

Prize Winner Essay
1st Aye Nyein San Digital Opportunities in Myanmar
2nd Si Thu Phyon The Unrealised Potential of Digitalisation
3rd Kanatip Sintuset The Role of Digitalisation in Green Finance

Open Category
Prize Winner Essay
1st Calista Chong Digital Sustainability and Sustainable Digitalisation: Shaping Southeast Asia’s Digital Economy
2nd Francisco Jr. Silvidad Ushering Southeast Asia into the Digital Decade: Achieving the Fullest Potential of Digital Economy
3rd Reynold Orsua Building Trust: The Way Forward for Southeast Asia’s Digital Economy

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Dr Ming Tan

Founding Executive Director

Dr Ming Tan is founding Executive Director for the Tech for Good Institute. She is concurrently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Governance and Sustainability at the National University of Singapore. Her research interests lie at the intersection of technology, business and society, including sustainability and innovation.


Ming was previously Managing Director of IPOS International, part of the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, which supports Singapore’s future growth as a global innovation hub for intellectual property creation, commercialisation and management.


Prior to joining the public sector, she was Head of Stewardship of the COMO Group, a Singaporean portfolio of lifestyle companies operating in 14 countries worldwide. Her portfolio covered sustainability, brand and data privacy. She was concurrently the founding Executive Director of COMO Foundation, the private philanthropy of the owner of the COMO Group.


As a company director, she lends brand and strategic guidance to SuperNature Pte Ltd, COMO Hotels and Resorts (Asia) Pte Ltd, COMO Club Pte Ltd, and Mogems Pte Ltd. In the not-for-profit space, Ming is an Advisor to Singapore Totalisator Board and serves on the boards of Esplanade–Theatres on the Bay, Singapore’s national performing arts centre, St. Joseph’s Institution International and COMO Foundation.


As part of her commitment to holistic education and the arts, she also sits on the Advisory Panel of the Centre for the Arts of the National University of Singapore.


Ming was educated in Singapore, the United States, and England. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University and her doctorate from Oxford.