The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Friday 21 April 2017

Politics

Image: Getty Images

Settle down

Why Jakarta’s new governor must now look beyond the polarising election campaign.

Jakarta has passed on the opportunity to elect its first non-Muslim governor. The resounding defeat of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian known as Ahok, leaves the city’s international reputation for tolerance diminished. Ahok had inherited the governorship after Joko Widodo was elected president in 2014 but he was accused of blasphemy, an allegation that dominated this week’s election. Election winner Anies Baswedan (pictured) must now address issues in the Indonesian capital (Ahok was attempting to fix the city’s river banks and end its crippling floods) and rise above the conservative pandering he engaged in on the campaign trail.

Media

Image: Getty Images

Change the channel?

Theresa May has ruled herself out of any pre-election TV debates. Is that scandalous or perfectly understandable?

They’re the most hyped event in the run-up to an election but how much do televised debates actually matter? British prime minister Theresa May has announced that she will not participate in party leader debates before the country’s election on 8 June and, while critics say she’s trying to avoid tough questioning over Brexit, there’s little evidence that these debates offer anything vital to the election process. More often than not there is only a thin debate as media-trained candidates repeat pre-approved soundbites while dodging substantive issues. They don’t tend to sway voters either, regardless of the politicians’ performances. In France, even after two lengthy sessions, one of which involved all 11 presidential candidates, polls reflected only a marginal shift in public opinion.

Affairs

Image: Getty Images

Passport to power

Singapore’s credentials are on the up – and taking the nation’s regional clout with them.

Singaporean citizens will be pleased to know that they now have the world’s most powerful passport, alongside the Germans. The shift up the rankings of Arton Capital’s Passport Index is a soft-power coup for the island nation, highlighting the fact that other countries trust Singapore and wish to maintain good international ties. While obtaining a Singaporean passport isn’t easy for residents born overseas, perhaps this development and the press it is receiving could have broader implications for the perception of the nation from abroad. Singapore is relatively quiet when it comes to promoting its international relationships yet its strong ties with nations such as China, Japan and the US could boost its political influence in the region.

Art

Creative conundrum

Does it matter that Brussels hasn’t got a contemporary-art museum?

Brussels may be the capital of Europe but it still doesn’t have a contemporary-art museum. It’s something that the city’s Wiels contemporary-art centre is keen to emphasise, this week launching an exhibition called The Absent Museum: Blueprint for a Museum of Contemporary Art for the Capital of Europe in its refurbished Blomme building. The show brings together 45 artists from around the world and asks visitors to consider what role such an art institution would play and how it could address public debates and socio-political tensions. Curated by Dirk Snauwaert and two years in the making, the exhibition surprises and chills with works including Nil Yalter’s “C'est un dur Métier que l'Exil” (It was a Tough Job That Exile), which builds on previous video installations by the artist that deal with the hardships faced by migrants, and ​Jimmie Durham’s photograph “In Europe”, which has gained fresh urgency in light of Brexit and France’s looming presidential election this weekend.

From Monocle 24

Image: Flickr

Melbourne’s missing link

The Urbanist

Melbourne is often touted as one of the world’s best cities for quality of life. But despite decades of planning, the city still does not have a rail link to the airport. This month, the Australian prime minister threw his support behind the latest attempt. Will it take off?

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