The Monocle Minute

In association with Brand Hong Kong x Monocle logo

Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Wednesday 7 February 2018

Politics

Image: Shutterstock

Above the law?

International pressure is being heaped on the Maldives’ president to comply with his Supreme Court’s decision.

An international storm is brewing in the Maldives two days after the country’s president, Abdulla Yameen, declared a state of emergency. The move was a response to the Supreme Court’s ruling that nine opposition figures be released – an order that Yameen has, so far, defied. His government has been accused of authoritarian tendencies ever since it came to power in 2013. Mohamed Nasheed, the country’s first democratically elected leader who was granted asylum in the UK in 2016, has called on the Indian government to send troops to the islands. And while China, which has invested heavily in the Maldives, believes the crisis to be an internal affair, Washington and other western capitals have urged Yameen to adhere to the court’s wishes. While international pressure on Yameen should be maintained, the kind of government that would take his place is unclear – particularly while Nasheed remains in exile.

Urbanism

Image: iStock

Grand plan

Delegates are meeting in Malaysia to map out global urbanisation over the next 20 years.

Mayors, city officials and urban planners are assembling in Kuala Lumpur today for the UN-endorsed World Urban Forum. Delegates at the six-day conference in the Malaysian capital will be given the task of deciding how to implement the New Urban Agenda: a set of principles that is intended to guide global urbanisation over the next two decades. The landmark agreement was signed by 167 countries when the Ecuadorian capital Quito hosted the last biennial event in 2016. This week’s gathering will be a homecoming of sorts for the former mayor of the Malaysian island of Penang. Maimunah Mohd Sharif was appointed head of UN-Habitat at the end of last year and now oversees the UN’s urban-development agency from new digs in Nairobi.

Media

Flag it up

A Hong Kong daily has used the city-state’s shipping heritage as inspiration for its logo.

Hong Kong newsstands look a little sharper this week after the South China Morning Post revealed its latest rebrand. The city’s main English-language newspaper has taken a leaf out of the entrepôt’s rich maritime history for its new logo: a simple yellow and blue rectangle that represents the shipping signal flag for “I want to communicate with you”. Staff at the media group are also being brought together in one building as part of the relaunch at new headquarters in the heart of Hong Kong, Causeway Bay. Investment in reporters and digital news has come thick and fast since Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma bought the company in 2016. Hot-desking, ping-pong tables and whispers of a free in-house bar will no doubt appeal to young graduates. Yet avid readers of the century-old daily will continue to watch closely for any editorial changes in its China coverage, ever ready to raise a distress flag.

Transport

Image: Shutterstock

Signing off

New York State’s world-famous motto has put its governor in a compromising position.

“I ♥ NY” will soon be consigned to the rubbish dump. In 2013, New York State governor Andrew Cuomo installed hundreds of highway signs proclaiming the state’s official motto but they came under fire from federal transportation officials. The cheery roadside signs don’t ascribe to national highway sign standards, leaving the Federal Highway Administration in a standoff with New York’s Department of Transportation. The federal agency threatened to pull $14m (€11m) in funding – and now the state has agreed to remove the signs by 30 September. This isn’t the first time that New York has been at the centre of a sign-based controversy: in 2010 the city was forced to replace hundreds of thousands of street signs in order to comply with national standards. Where is the love?

From Monocle 24

Image: Wilson Lee

Muji Hotel

Section D

Muji’s president, Satoru Matsuzaki, takes us inside the brand’s first hotel in Shenzhen.

From Monocle Films

Somerset’s strange fruit

Hauser & Wirth is an international art gallery with its heart in the countryside. We visit its premises in Somerset to review a weird and wonderful show that looks at our relationship with the land.

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