Friday 16 December 2016 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 16/12/2016

The Monocle Minute

Image: Rodrigo Abd/PA

Deal or no deal?

The ink on the peace deal between the Colombian government and the Farc rebels may have only just dried but the historic pact, which ended a 52-year war, is already facing its first test. Five mid-level commanders have refused orders to demobilise and, together with more than 50 guerillas under their command, are expected to continue their role in the drugs trade. It’s important that there isn’t an overreaction: Farc’s leaders admitted to Monocle during the talks that as many as a quarter of their followers may not agree to give up their arms. Peace deals take time to be implemented and there will always be hold-outs; Colombians will be hoping that the vast majority fall in line.

Image: Sergei Guneyev/Getty Images

Old wounds

Japan’s onsen (hot springs) are believed by many to have restorative properties. But are the thermal waters of the Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan up to the task of healing a decades-long territorial dispute involving two of the most powerful nations on earth? Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe certainly hoped so when he invited Russian president Vladimir Putin to his home constituency yesterday for talks centred around four islands just north of Hokkaido in Japan. The islands have been under Russian control since the beginning of the Second World War but Japan has maintained its claim of territorial rights for just as long. Abe’s intentions to “talk over issues deliberately in the stillness of night and in a relaxed and quiet mood” may be idealistic and whether or not the two-day talks will yield a long-term solution is yet to be seen.

Image: Getty Images

Works a charm?

Uzbekistan, the silent giant of Central Asia, looks to be on a renewed charm offensive. Its new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, kicked off his tenure with a raGetty Imagesh of visits to Uzbekistan’s neighbours in December and the country is set to relax its infamously byzantine visa process, offering 15 countries (including Japan, Germany and the UK) 30-day, visa-free travel from April. A more open outlook may see more visitors ambling around Samarkand’s ancient courtyards and give the economy a much-needed leg-up; Mirziyoyev has pledged to double its GDP by 2030. Protracted isolation may have furnished the country with mystique but left it little in the way of investment.

Image: Dita Alangkara/PA

Jam session

In developing Indonesia there are plenty of tough jobs, with traffic-policing in Jakarta claiming one of the top spots. A gridlocked city with terrible pollution and minimum attention paid to road rules makes managing the chaos an unenviable task – and for inspector Sutisna this is an everyday reality that hasn’t gone unnoticed. This week the traffic policeman was rewarded for his patience after keeping a cool head as a furious female driver tried to give him a battering on the street. The much-watched clip of the incident and the public support that Sutisna received in the aftermath represents a shift in public opinion towards the Jakartan police. Once infamous for its corruption, the city’s police rose to heroic status for its swift response to the terror attacks in January. But things aren’t getting any easier for the force, with racially charged protests around Jakarta’s Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama’s blasphemy case heightening tensions on the streets.

Image: Getty Images

Jane Jacobs

In a special episode of The Urbanist we look at the life and legacy of Jane Jacobs, one of the most influential urban thinkers and city activists of our time.

Monocle Films / Global

Retail special: gin distilleries

Just like craft breweries, small local distilleries are reinventing drinks that have fallen out of fashion. Monocle Films visits three entrepreneurs who have uncorked the potential of the old spirit in London, Hamburg and the Finnish countryside.


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