Tuesday. 30/4/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Andrew Tuck

Capital loss

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has apparently taken the decision to move the country’s capital – this is a mistake. Jakarta is justifiably regarded as one of the most chaotic, traffic-clogged, polluted cities in the world – and one that’s sinking to boot – but as long as it’s a big mess it should remain the capital. Why?

Too often national governments fail to bring in the urban policies needed to create sustainable cities and then, when they see the misery of their failures through their ministerial limo windows, they panic and flee. That’s why in Egypt the government is saying farewell to Cairo and why Burma’s generals and ministers have said adieu to Rangoon and set up shop in the technocrats’ nirvana of Naypyidaw. The urge to desert mess for order also created Kano and Brasilía.

Governments should not be allowed to run away from their mismanagement so easily. But the citizens of the old capitals usually have the last laugh because new cities built around civil servants are always boring. Just wait to see how many government officials will be jumping on the Friday afternoon shuttle back to Jakarta in years to come.

International relations / Switzerland

Start over

UK leaders wondering what a future outside the EU might be like ought to take a look at Switzerland. After four years of negotiations yielded a draft treaty on Swiss-EU relations (encompassing everything from access to the single market to the rights that EU nationals would enjoy in the country), the new head of the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (SGB), Pierre-Yves Maillard, called for the accord to be torn up last weekend. Opponents of the treaty believe that it offers too many concessions to the EU but there are few constructive ideas on how it might be improved. “They [the SGB] have just said ‘no’,” Florian Egli, vice-president of Swiss foreign policy think-tank Foraus tells The Briefing. “It hasn’t specified what exactly needs to be amended. They’ve just asked for a complete restart.”

Aviation / Global

Clipped wings

Yesterday Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg cut a brittle figure as he addressed shareholders and journalists for the first time since the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crash on 1 March. In his speech, the beleaguered executive tried to assuage concerns about the company’s record on safety, vowing that the troubled 737 would become one of the safest planes in the world once a software update has been implemented. For shareholders, the fix can’t come quickly enough. Boeing is continuing to produce the grounded 737 Max models even though they are not permitted to fly – a scenario that is currently resulting in an estimated $2.1bn (€1.9bn) a month loss in revenues. Peter Morris, chief economist at aviation consultancy Ascend, says: “The longer it goes on the worse it gets at an accelerating rate.”

Media / Turkey

Good news

With press freedoms receding in Turkey, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle made a concerted play to improve access to information yesterday by launching a Turkish-language YouTube channel, +90. Partnering with the BBC, France24 and Voice of America – which will each produce an equal amount of video content – the new channel will report on stories that are eschewed by the Erdogan government-controlled media. +90’s opening reports centred on Turkey’s construction crisis, the lives of transgender women and the alarming number of child brides in the country. Turkish citizens are increasingly turning to online sources for information; Deutsche Welle’s move to provide people with better quality digital news is laudable.

Culture / Lebanon

Patchy record

Over the weekend, Beirut broke the Guinness World Record for the highest number of national flags raised in a day: 26,852 red and white banners bearing the country’s symbolic cedar tree were hoisted up the city’s flagpoles. One MP described the exercise as a sign that, “No flag other than the Lebanese will be raised in Beirut.” But these Instagram-friendly displays of patriotism mask the country’s dire situation and its heavy reliance on its neighbours. Lebanon’s sovereign debt is so large that international donors have agreed to lend it more than $11bn (€9.8bn) in order to fix its ailing infrastructure and avert an economic crisis. Meanwhile the prime minister, Saad Hariri, is in the pocket of Saudi Arabia, and Iran funds the influential Hezbollah party. Lebanon needs strong governance and economic reform more than it needs political posturing and flag-waving.

M24 / The Menu

Common denominators

We hear about the characteristics and management skills shared by the world’s greatest chefs, visit the latest addition in Copenhagen’s blossoming café scene and meet Nathan Outlaw, who runs the only seafood restaurant in the UK to have received two Michelin stars.

Monocle Films / USA

Dallas street style

Texas is about big money, big cars and big characters; we meet the new generation adding some welcome cool to the cowboy chic.

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