Tuesday 16 May 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 16/5/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Reuters


Vote for change

Life tends to happen at a slower pace in Thailand so the political events of the past few days are likely to have left a few million heads spinning. No one in their wildest dreams would have predicted that, within 24 hours of the polls closing in Sunday’s general election, Pita Limjaroenrat (pictured, centre), leader of the Move Forward Party, would announce an agreement to form a coalition government.

At best, the nascent progressive party, which is made up of fresh-faced idealists and political rookies, hoped to finish second to Pheu Thai, Thailand’s largest opposition faction and a vehicle for the influential Shinawatra family. Having led two governments already this century, both of which ended in a military coup, this was meant to be the Shinawatras’ third coming.

The script has been ripped up. Sunday’s result has propelled Thailand into uncharted political territory. Move Forward’s politicians are genuine reformers. The party wants to end business cartels, amend the constitution to keep the army out of politics and, most controversially of all, rewrite the lèse-majesté laws that have kept Thai society in check for decades.

The new leadership stuck steadfastly by its principles during the election campaign, winning the trust of voters in the process. There’s no reason to believe that they will compromise now. This is going to cause a backlash from the country’s establishment but Thais of all ages want to talk about the future – and the principles that Move Forward stands for are very much it. Even if obstacles appear on Limjaroenrat’s path to becoming prime minister, the people have spoken and there’s no going back now.

James Chambers is Monocle’s Asia editor, based in Bangkok. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to the magazine today.

Image: Getty Images


Safe bet

As Australia’s political parties quarrel over issues from immigration to welfare, one topic that unites the country’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and opposition leader Peter Dutton is the nation’s gambling problem. Albanese is yet to communicate plans to ban betting advertisements during sporting events but confirmed yesterday that a review is under way and that he finds gambling ads annoying “on a personal level”. The Greens and independent federal MPs have also called for action on sports-betting advertising but any ban is likely to face significant backlash from both the gaming sector and broadcasters, which stand to lose hundreds of millions in advertising revenue. According to the Australian Institute, a Canberra-based public-policy think tank, Australians lose about $AU25bn (€15.4bn) a year gambling – more than any other nationality. With such sobering statistics, restricting the temptation to have a flutter is a cause that every Australian political party can get behind.

Image: Shutterstock


Vicious spiral

Argentina unveiled a fresh round of emergency economic measures yesterday in a bid to curb the country’s rampant inflation and bolster its fast-devaluing peso. Among the measures is an interest-rate hike and an intervention in the foreign-exchange market. The country’s economy minister, Sergio Massa (pictured), will travel to China later this month to seek greater use of the yuan in foreign trade. The question of saving Argentina’s economy will be the primary concern for voters during elections in October.

“Massa, who was initially hailed as a dealmaker hasn’t delivered so far,” Christopher Sabatini, senior fellow for Latin America at Chatham House, tells The Monocle Minute. “The new economic measures are an effort to try to cut a deal with the IMF to make payments to meet obligations but also shore up the dwindling currency. The fate of the party hinges on Massa’s ability to pull the country out of this nosedive. But there is only so much that they can squeeze out of exporters to fill the central bank’s coffers.”

Image: Asahi Group Holdings Ltd.


Give and take

Asahi Soft Drinks, one of Japan’s leading beverage makers, has unveiled a new vending machine that absorbs carbon dioxide (CO2) in order to cool or heat the products that it dispenses. The plan is part of its push for carbon neutrality by 2050. Starting in June, it will trial a patent-pending machine that can absorb approximately 60kg of CO2 every year (20 per cent of the carbon emissions it produces), making each unit equivalent to the annual absorption of around 20 to 30 mature cedar trees.

The CO2 will be absorbed by a powder-like material that will then be used in fertilisers and concrete. Low-energy LEDs and light sensors will curb power consumption during the vending machine’s 24-hour operation. The company plans to replace 260,000 of its current operational machines by 2024 but has yet to announce plans for its full target. With four million vending machines around the country, this method of dispensing goods is crying out for innovation.

Image: Melinda Sue Gordon/Cannes


Star attractions

The 76th Cannes Film Festival opens today and runs until 27 May. This year a new Indiana Jones movie brings a hit of Hollywood nostalgia, Michael Douglas receives an honorary Palme d’Or and Martin Scorsese returns to Cannes with a new film 47 years after Taxi Driver became one of the most controversial inclusions in the festival’s history, with its graphic content prompting walkouts and condemnation before the movie claimed the top prize. The line-up is likely to eclipse even the wonders of last year’s Top Gun: Maverick roadshow, in which Tom Cruise promoted his blockbuster by filling the skies over the Croisette with tricolour smoke from the Patrouille de France. Here are three films to watch out for.

‘The Zone of Interest’, Jonathan Glazer. The director of 2013’s Under the Skin returns with an adaptation of Martin Amis’s Holocaust novel.

‘Asteroid City’, Wes Anderson. Set in 1955 in a fictional American desert town, Wes Anderson’s 11th film stars Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Jeff Goldblum and Margot Robbie, among others. Expect another visual treat directed in his eccentric signature style.

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, Martin Scorsese. Though screening out of competition, this crime western starring Robert de Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio (pictured, on right, with De Niro) is among the festival’s must-see films. It tells the story of the “Reign of Terror” murders of members of the Osage Nation following the discovery of oil in 1920s Oklahoma.

For more on the opening of this year’s Cannes Film Festival, tune in to tomorrow’s edition of ‘The Globalist’ on Monocle Radio. Listen live at 07.00 London time at monocle.com/radio.

Image: Sophia Spring

MONOCLE RADIO / The Entrepreneurs

Buchanan Studio

Founder and creative director Angus Buchanan discusses the advantages of learning in the field rather than the classroom and explains how teaming up with his wife, Charlotte, has enabled the establishment of a thriving multi-disciplinary design practice.

Monocle Films / Sicily

Sicily’s tropical produce

Climate change is prompting fruit farmers to diversify and coffee roasters to start considering areas beyond the so-called bean belt to source their raw material. In Sicily, Morettino, a forward-looking family-run roastery, has already started growing coffee plants in Palermo, creating an espresso that is truly made in Italy. To discover more surprising business opportunities, subscribe to Monocle magazine today.


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