The Monocle Minute

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 27 September 2017

Governance

Image: Alamy

Picture perfect?

Jakarta’s incoming deputy governor may have grand plans ­– but his suggested changes should go deeper.

When Sandiaga Uno, Jakarta’s deputy governor-elect, assumes office next month, he’s said he wants to make his city “Instagrammeable”. He wants to fill it with good-looking places and objects that supposedly snap well in the hopes that Indonesia’s 45 million Instagram users will boost visitor numbers. Sprucing up the city’s unkempt public spaces, sidewalks and shrubbery will certainly help but it all feels a bit superficial; Jakarta has clear urban challenges, from clogged roads to an inefficient public-transport network. Uno should see these issues as entwined: great public spaces must be as functional as they are attractive and making something lens-friendly doesn’t necessarily tackle the root causes of a city’s problems.

Society

Image: Getty Images

Pride and prejudice

While Hong Kong is keen to host the Gay Games it still has some catching up to do regarding equal rights.

Hong Kong is competing to become the first Asian city to host the Gay Games in 2022 but two recent decisions have demonstrated how far behind it is when it comes to equal rights. An expatriate in a UK civil partnership won her appeal this week against the immigration department’s refusal to issue her a dependent visa – granting her the same rights as heterosexual married foreigners (same-sex unions for local couples are still not recognised). The news came on the same day that the Hong Kong Red Cross reversed its ban on gay men donating blood, provided they have abstained from sex for 12 months. The practice brings Hong Kong in line with several western countries although advocates have called for more to be done following the UK’s decision to cut this period to three months. The theme of November’s annual Pride parade is “discrimination says goodbye” but many participants will feel they have a long way to go yet.

Tourism

Image: Alamy

It’s good to talk

English-language lessons for taxi drivers will help visitors to Madrid take the pulse of this city.

A conversation with a taxi driver often makes a first impression on a visitor’s arrival to a new city, which is why Madrid’s authorities are now paying for English lessons for cabbies. Working with the support of three taxi associations, city officials are funding online language courses for taxi drivers wanting to learn or improve their English; some 500 drivers have already signed up. Not only will the language skills allow for better conversation and interaction with English-speaking tourists but it could also help traditional taxis get the edge on Uber and ride-sharing service Cabify. Taxi drivers demonstrated en masse over Uber’s presence in Spain this summer.

Art

Image: Shutterstock

Bump in the night

A Toronto art show is rejuvenating its reputation by bringing politics to the street.

Toronto is prepping for Nuit Blanche, the annual all-night art marathon that hits the city’s streets, museums and galleries this weekend. For the 12th edition of this storied overnight event, it will tap into the political climate of North American politics, from controversial monuments to large-scale protest and indigenous rights. Titled “Many Possible Futures”, Nuit Blanche features shows exhibited in the streets, the names of which are suggestive of their flavour – there’s “Taking to the Streets” just outside Queen’s Park and “Century of Revolutions”, curated by Nato Thompson at Nathan Phillips Square. Recent editions left some visitors feeling that Nuit Blanche had plateaued but this shot in the arm is a surefire sign of its resurgence.

From Monocle Films

Summer in London

Monocle Films partners Rosewood Hotels & Resorts to discover the secrets that London has to offer. Charlotte Rey shows us around the vibrant capital, taking us to her top spots and favourite haunts.

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