Wednesday. 8/5/2019

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Tyler Brûlé

Growing the family

If you’re looking for a fresh investment, you might want to consider a couple thousand litres of paint (go big on yellow and white) suitable for aircraft fuselages. Just when you thought Lufthansa couldn’t possibly digest another carrier, not to mention another domestic player of scale, CEO Carsten Spohr has announced it’s eyeing up Thomas Cook’s airline portfolio and Germany-based Condor in particular. Let the rebranding begin!

At first glance it might seem too big a challenge to bring a charter carrier into the Lufthansa family, particularly when the group is already struggling to make Eurowings work. Look a bit closer and it could solve a number of problems. First, Eurowings is not a loved brand and will forever be seen as a plaster over the high-profile Germanwings crash. Second, Eurowings has a confused strategy mixing low-cost elements with bits of premium and scraps of leisure-carrier characteristics. Third, Condor has enormous respect in its home market and was once part of the extended Lufthansa family, so it will be a homecoming of sorts.

Due to competition regulations it’s unlikely that Lufthansa will be able to snatch up all of Thomas Cook’s airlines – and nor should it. Gaining a hold of the Nordics division would be useful but given Herr Spohr’s vision of a united Europe, he’ll probably give the UK part of the group the swerve.

Elections / South Africa

Stop the rot

Today South Africa goes to the polls to elect a new national assembly and president. Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of the ruling African National Congress, is a shoo-in. He’s built a campaign on undoing the corruption that has crept in during the calamitous reign of his predecessor Jacob Zuma. Once in power however, Ramaphosa has an intimidating to-do list. “In the short term his first cabinet will be significant: the figures he chooses will be a statement to how he will improve governance and stop the rot,” says Christopher Vandome, research associate for the Africa Programme at Chatham House. “Next is creating an environment that creates economic growth. That will come from finalising key components of legislation involving land reform and mining, and letting the private sector grow and create jobs.”

Culture / Venice

Creative coupling

The main exhibition at the Venice Biennale is perhaps the biggest chance to make a statement in the art world – and this year artists will have the opportunity to make two. The primary locations, Arsenale and Giardini, will host an exhibition each: Proposition A and Proposition B. The idea is that the show’s 79 artists exhibit a piece in each, exposing two facets of their practice (and themes therein). “The exhibition is trying to highlight art’s multidimensional character,” curator Ralph Rugoff tells the Monocle Minute. “A lot of what we regard as human society and civilisation are constructs: art sometimes gives us a chance to glimpse the chaos that exists under all of the forms of order.” In today’s complex world there is space for more than one truth, it seems.

Geopolitics / UK

Hot topic

The effects of climate change have become an important factor in how countries choose to spend their aid. So much so that a report released this morning by the UK’s House of Commons International Development Committee states that climate-related projects must be the main focus of its efforts. The consequences of not doing so could be dire. The committee says that a failure to act on its advice will make other aid spending ineffective. It’s a sentiment that’s supported by Neville Ash, director at the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre, who points out that it’s “the poorest who are most vulnerable to increasing climate variability and change. It’s these communities that aid and wider sustainable-development strategies seek to support.” Time will tell whether politicians heed such advice.

Politics / Malaysia

Ready to rule?

Tomorrow Malaysia marks the first anniversary of last year’s shock election, when the democracy saw its first change in government since independence. Pakatan Harapan, the ruling coalition led by Mahathir Mohamad, has reasons to celebrate. Ousted prime minister Najib Razak is standing trial for corruption and Malaysia has shot up the rankings in the World Press Freedom Index. However, there are signs of government discord and some voters are fed up of hearing about the previous administration’s laundry list of corruption. Race and religion also continue to dominate the political landscape. Harapan came to power promising to represent all Malaysians but a resurgent opposition is busy banging the drum for Malay rights. A by-election this weekend will show how much support there is for creating an inclusive Malaysia.

M24 / Meet The Writers

Sisonke Msimang

Sisonke Msimang is one of the most exciting contemporary female black voices in literature. Her family is originally from South Africa where they were involved with founding the ANC. She writes beautifully on race, gender and democracy. As all eyes turn towards the South African elections she talks about growing up in exile and escaping the generational scars of apartheid.

Monocle Films / Indonesia

Making it in Jakarta

Indonesia’s bounteous resources make it the perfect place for entrepreneurs to set up camp. We meet four enterprising Jakarta residents, who tell us how they are taking advantage of the opportunities in this chaotic city.

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