Asia's Businessman of the Year
By Louis Kraar

(FORTUNE Magazine) – In naming Asia's Businessman of the Year, FORTUNE's Asian edition chose Cheong Choong Kong, CEO of Singapore Airlines, a leader who's unusual on a number of counts. Most important, at a time when Asia's companies--and its airlines in particular--have been swooning, Cheong's has been the only Asian airline to post significant earnings. This is due largely to Cheong, 57, and his management style: The airline is conservative in brass-tacks areas like accounting but flamboyant in its marketing and customer service. (It's the only major airline to offer free champagne to economy customers.) The same dichotomy exists in Cheong: At work he sets an example of austerity--his office is tiny, and he sometimes flies coach on the airline he runs. He and his managers gave up a raise last year, inspiring employees to do likewise. But he too has a flamboyant side: He recently appeared in Tiger's Whip, a comedy about a young American porn actor who comes to Singapore to cure his lost virility. The film, needless to say, can be seen on SIA flights.

--Louis Kraar