Wednesday 30 November 2016 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Wednesday. 30/11/2016

The Monocle Minute

Image: Ahn Young-joon/PA

’Tis the season

This is a bad time for Brand South Korea. The country’s president, Park Geun-hye, is battling against impeachment, while its technology giant Samsung Electronics is still struggling with the fallout from the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. Two decisions taken this week may help: first Samsung announced that it was considering splitting the company in two; then president Park addressed the nation and said that she was willing to step down. It’s possible that neither move will be enough, at least in the short-term. Samsung can hardly expect a bumper Christmas, while South Korea’s political troubles will not end even if Park resigns. But after weeks of bad publicity – and inertia at the top of both institutions – the country may finally be turning a corner.

Image: Getty Images

Laid to rest?

Today's holiday usually calls for celebration across the Philippines in commemoration of the birth of 19th-century revolutionary hero Andrés Bonifacio. Instead, many in Manila are going to spend the public holiday protesting a more controversial national figure: Ferdinand Marcos. Rallies have been raging since 18 November, when the body of the late dictator was secretly reburied at the heroes’ cemetery in the Philippine capital. The anti-Marcos gatherings are expected to culminate today as out-of-town protestors arrive at the People Power Monument. Current president Rodrigo Duterte, who authorised the burial, was conveniently out of the country for the Apec summit during the interment. Although the protests are focused primarily on the late dictator, the new Filipino strongman is not being allowed to rest easy either.

Image: Getty Images

Testing Trudeau

Is the sheen on one of the most remarkable prime ministerial honeymoons at last beginning to dim? Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has had a tough week. His comments following the death of Fidel Castro, whom he praised as a “legendary revolutionary and orator”, drew widespread criticism at home for their naivety. Coupled with a so-called “cash-for-access” row at home – in which Trudeau and two of his ministers have been accused of giving lucrative appearances behind closed doors at private fundraisers – Trudeau is at last being tested, a little more than a year after taking office. His responses to both issues have so far given substantial fodder to his political opponents at home. Trudeau may finally be facing the realities of leadership after a remarkable prime ministerial debut in which he could, it seemed, do no wrong.

Image: André Marques

Making tracks

Spain has locked down an order for a fleet of new trains to serve its extensive high-speed rail network, the largest in Europe, with more than 3,000km of tracks winding across the country. National train operator Renfe has this week awarded Madrid-based firm Talgo a €786m contract to provide 15 new high-speed trains, with an option to increase the order to 30 at a later date. Talgo, which beat German firm Siemens and France’s Alstom to the contract, is already the largest supplier of trains to the country. The new trains, which will reach 330km/h and seat 521, are designed to have three different electrical systems, enabling them to make cross-border trips to France.

André Fu

After studying and working in the UK, André Fu returned home to Hong Kong to start his own design firm in 2004. Since then he has become one of the city’s best-known designers and his firm Afso has grown into an international design practice with a roster of global clients and hospitality brands. We meet Fu in The Upper House hotel – seven years after he outfitted its interior in his signature “modern Asian” style – to find out what he has been up to.

Top 25 cities, 2016

The ups and downs of our annual global ranking covering the world’s most liveable cities: who’s in and who’s out?


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