The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Thursday 23 March 2017

Security

Image: Getty Images

London attack

Terrorist incident highlights how fragile security can be, even in the seat of power.

As the seat of Britain’s political power, Westminster should be a fortress. But yesterday’s terror incident – a year to the day after the attack in Brussels – underscores how fragile security is, even in such a high-profile public area. The Houses of Parliament are not in an exclusion zone, though security has progressively tightened throughout Westminster in recent years but the area is surrounded by barricades and a robust police presence. “This happened at the most defended location in the country, with firearms officers at seconds' notice,” says Chris Phillips, former head of the UK’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office. The area, he explains, is well defended against car bombs but that doesn’t offer protection from a vehicle intent on knocking people over on the pavement. “You can never have 100 per cent security but you can limit the number of casualties.”

Property

Image: Alamy

Golden oldies

Thai developers are targeting rich retirees who want to get the party started.

If New Zealand has become a magnet for billionaires seeking a secure place to watch the rest of the world implode and Hainan is fast becoming the Algarve for Chinese pensioners, Bangkok’s developers are working hard to position the city as a hub for retirees who still want some funk in their lives. On a recent tour of the Thai capital, Monocle spoke to players in the property market who are targeting rich westerners and Asians looking for connectivity, a vibrant city and good service. As one Hong Konger told us: “You want to grow old in a good climate, have access to excellent restaurants and the best shops, and also have a cook, driver and maid.” A tour of the show apartments in Country Group Development’s new Four Seasons residential tower in Bangkok highlights an offer that would be impossible to match in London, San Francisco or even Dubai when you combine location, amenities and Thai service. With a host of other developments on the horizon and US hotelier André Balazs rumoured to be eyeing a project, Bangkok might well become the biggest party for edgier fringes of the silver set.

Expo

Image: Getty Images

Diamond geezer

Watch and jewellery fair spokesman says economic challenges can bring opportunities (if you’ve done your job properly).

Trust the watch industry to keep an eye on the time: today at 09.00 sharp the doors will officially swing open for the 100th Baselworld show, the leading annual fair for the watch and jewellery sector. At yesterday’s press conference Eric Bertrand, president of the exhibitors’ committee, gave a taste of what’s to come over the next eight days. His speech also struck a note of realism: with global watch exports in decline, he acknowledged the challenges presented by global economics and geopolitics but added that they offered “an opportunity for those who have done their job properly in recent years”. The brands that have been struggling might see this as a thinly disguised criticism but most will take it as a promising sign. With the world economy picking up, they’ll be hoping buyers are feeling positive too. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s Monocle Minute for an update from Basel.

Manufacturing

Image: Getty Images

Under fire

French national pride is on the front line as a German firm snaps up the army’s rifle contract.

The hotly protected “brand France” – ardent about limiting the amount of pop en Anglais on the airwaves and regulating Calvados – is in a new fight. And this time it’s literally on the battlefield. When the first shipment of the army’s new battle rifles arrived this month they were no longer embossed with “Made in France”. The French Army is phasing out its iconic Famas assault rifle after agreeing a €168m contract for the German-made Heckler & Koch HK416F. Since the time of Louis XV, the French military relied on the state-owned Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Étienne but, after closing in 2002, it was inevitable that the next rifle would come from abroad. Still, it represents a painful wound.

From Monocle 24

Can you keep a secret?

The Entrepreneurs

Fabien Riggall on how he created Secret Cinema, the company that organises large-scale productions of much-loved films, from ‘Back to the Future’ to ‘Dirty Dancing’, in which the audience and performance come together as one.

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