As an important proponent of free speech in Malaysia and a disruptor of the media landscape, Premesh Chandran creates space for voices against corruption and government abuses. Premesh is a strong believer in the power of citizen journalism, establishing training courses which have spawned over 400 citizen journalists. As the co-founder and CEO of Malaysiakini.com, Premesh brings Malaysia’s top independent news website to over 8 million people. The site played a key role in informing a generation of voters, leading to Malaysia’s democratic change in federal government in May 2018, the first since independence. Premesh’s passion for social entrepreneurship sees him speaking internationally and coaching extensively, helping others to impact society as tech startups and social enterprises.
Premesh has in 2020 been appointed head of the pro-tem committee for the Malaysia Media Council. He sits on the International Advisory Board of the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health. He is a 2019 TED Senior Fellow, a recipient of Asia Foundation’s Chang-Lin Tan Fellowship in 2010, and was the Media Personality of the Year in 2012. Premesh also established the Kini Academy as part of the Malaysiakini group to create and deliver highly practical courses about media and innovation. As co-Founder and chairperson of Asia Mobiliti, a full-stack platform to build transit-tech products and promote sustainable policies, Premesh hopes to support the viability of public transport systems.
With a background in international law and a heart in the marginalised communities of Indonesia, Nukila Evanty works to place people at the centre of development and communities at the core of the decision-making process. Nukila is a sought-after expert on human rights, being the founder and Executive Director of the Women Working Group. The group aims to achieve gender equality by working with stakeholders across government ministries, international organisations and universities to educate women to know their rights. Nukila has a strong voice in the fight against the Palm Oil industry as well as the need for guidelines to protect women from vilification online. In 2020, she founded and now chairs a social justice movement called the Civil Society Coalition Against Corona, opening a legal complaints desk for poor communities affected by COVID-19 and overseeing government health policy in handling the pandemic.
Nukila’s achievements include her 2011 publication Indonesia Human Rights and the International Human Rights Regime, exploring the country’s compliance to international human rights norms under different regimes. She supported the Indonesian Parliament on the publication of human rights and gender mainstreaming module in 2018. She received and dedicated a First Peoples Worldwide’s Keepers of the Earth Fund grant to protect the nature and cultural survival of the Kampar Indigenous People in Indonesia. She is a member of the advisory board of the Asia Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. For her achievements and outstanding record, Nukila was appointed as Director to the Board of Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) in 2018.
DR VANDANA JOSHI
Working to shift the health paradigm in war-torn countries and disaster response situations, Dr. Vandana Joshi is showing the world that good governance and community engagement are by far the most effective strategies to promote health. Whether tending to tuberculosis patients in Kashmir, leading teams in the tsunami-affected Andaman Islands or establishing community-based screening for malnourished children in South Sudan, Vandana’s impact remains holistic. She believes public health strategy must integrate local wisdom and resources to create strong and sustainable community-based response systems, beyond the assistance of external aid.
Dr. Vandana Joshi’s 30 year pathway to impact began with her appointment as a Lady Asst Surgeon (Medical officer). With an AusAID scholarship, she studied a Master of Public Health at the University of Sydney. Since then, she has worked with many preeminent global health organisations UNICEF, CARE, AED and the WHO. Her courage in the ‘Ebola Red Zone’ of Sierra Leone saw her awarded TIME person of the year in 2014, awarded collectively to the Ebola Response Team; honouring their fight against a deadly 100% infection rate and the biggest health crisis in the world at the time. Vandana’s recent work in Bhutan as the UNICEF Chief for Health, Nutrition, HIV and WASH saw Vandana making significant headway to achieving zero mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Most recently she is helping to build community resilience and paving a path for ‘malnutrition free’ South Sudan.