There were protests, revolutions, humanitarian crises, all of which have sparked scepticism on our humanity and the nature of mankind. Amidst this dismal backdrop, there have been technological advances that have drastically altered the way we live our lives.
In conjunction with our 10th anniversary issue this month, (featuring Adam Levine as our cover personality), we have painstakingly put together 10 major events that have shaped the world from 2008 till 2018 – in politics, pop culture, fashion, horology, technology and the world in general.
2011: THE ARAB SPRING
In December of 2010, an uprising began in Tunisia when street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire after his vegetable stand was seized by police. That sparked the “Jasmine Revolution”. By early 2011, the seed of discontent over authoritarian regimes had spread across the Middle East, resulting in a domino effect that afflicted mainly Arab nations as people demanded more freedom and greater participation in the political process.
The series of protests, uprisings and rebellions came to be labelled by the media as the “Arab Spring”. Whether or not the Arab Spring had achieved its objective remains a contentious point of debate, particularly as Syria and Libya continues to be in a state of unrest.
The Arab Spring also resulted in a civil war erupting in Syria as its people took to the streets demanding political reforms, including an end to the state of emergency, in place since 1963. The protests were greeted by violent crackdowns by the Syrian military.
By January 2012, media reports claimed that more than 5,000 civilians had been killed by the Syrian militia, leading to calls across the globe for President Bhashar to step down. The United Nations developed a peace plan but to no avail. Syria remains in a state of civil war, also contributing to refugee crisis in Europe.
The Arab Spring resulted in the violent death of Libyan dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. In October 2011, Gaddafi was dragged through the streets, tortured and executed. Gaddafi had been the longest-ruling leader in the region, known for his erratic behaviour. Gaddafi seized power in 1969 after leading a coup against King Idris. He was just 27 at the time. Libya continues to be in a state of civil war since Gaddafi’s downfall. The state of unrest has resulted in thousands fleeing the country, to the worldwide refugee crisis.
2011-2017: MARCH FOR YOUR RIGHTS
2011: We Are 99%
In September, protestors descended upon New York’s Wall Street financial district to voice their dissatisfaction over social and economic inequality, particularly on the influence that big corporations had on government. The dissatisfaction of Occupy Wall Street was reflected in the slogan, “We are the 99%”, referring to the unequal distribution of wealth in the U.S, with only the majority of the wealth being held within the top 1%.
The protest, which began with just a few hundred protestors, eventually garnered global media attention. More than 240 protestors were arrested two months after the group descended on Zuccotti Park. Occupy Wall Street is said to have resulted in a variety of causes including Black Lives Matter and to have spurred the rise of Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders who represented a new form of politics that was anti-big business.
2014: Umbrella Movement
In September, students in Hong Kong made their stand against China’s interference in Hong Kong with a series of sit-in street protest that have come to be known as the Umbrella Movement. When China imposed certain reforms to the Hong Kong electoral system, protestors led largely by students, occupied various major city intersections, bringing the island of Hong Kong to a standstill. Despite the use of tear gas and attacks, the protestors didn’t back down. It is said that they also stood up to incidents of intimidation and violent by triads and thugs. The “movement” lasted for 77 days and attracted more than 100,000 protestors at any given time.
2017: Women’s Rights Are Human Rights
The day after President Trump was inaugurated, women in the U.S took to the streets to “send a bold message” to the new administration on its first day in office. Dubbed the Women’s March, the protest was intended to show the world that “women’s rights are human rights.” The march in Washington attracted close to 1 million people while approximately 5 million marched throughout the United States. The protest was aimed at pushing for legislation and policies regarding human rights as well as issues to do with women’s rights, including immigration reform, healthcare reform, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, racial equality and freedom of religion. That march evolved into a worldwide protest that took in place in 81 other countries.
2017: #MeToo Movement
Women stood together to denounce sexual harassment with the hashtag #MeToo. The phrase was first coined by Tarana Burke, a survivor of sexual assault, back in 2006 as a means of helping women who had survived sexual violence. The movement came to fore after revelations that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had for decades used his position to demand sexual favours from up and coming actresses.
The accusation from Ashley Judd soon led to powerful men from various industries, including media, sports and tech, having to face their accusers. The use of the term “Me Too” was revived when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” The call generated more than 1.7 million tweets included the hashtag “#MeToo,” with 85 countries that had at least 1,000 #MeToo tweets.
2011-2018: NEW LEADERS FOR TOMORROW
2011: North Korea
In December 2011, Kim Jong-un became the Supreme Leader of North Korea after the passing of his father Kim Jong-il. His time as leader has been marked with controversy, including the suspected killing of his half-brother Kim Jong-nam here in Malaysia. Early on in his leadership, Kim broke all peace pacts with South Korea and started a new nuclear weapons plan resulting in tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Nonetheless early this year North Korea sent a delegation to compete in the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. In April, the leader met with South Korean President Moon Je-in, the first time a North Korean ruler had crossed over to South Korea and in June, met with President Donald Trump, the first meeting between a member of his family and a sitting U.S President.
Xi Jinping was appointed the General Secretary of the Communist Part of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission. Since being in power, Xi has focused on enforcing party discipline and ensuring internal unity. He introduced an anti-corruption campaign which led to the downfall of prominent Communist Party officials and tightened restrictions over civil society and ideological discourse.
In October 2016, Xi was bestowed the title of “core leader’, a title held only by leaders of ‘influence’ like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. A year later, his name and ideology was enshrined as thought and included in the party’s constitution, an honour previously only awarded to Mao.
Also in December of 2012, Shinzo Abe was elected the Prime Minister of Japan. It was the second time that he assumed the position of Prime Minister, the first being in 2006, which he then vacated for health reasons. During his time as premier Abe introduced numerous economic policies including monetary easing, fiscal stimulus and structural reforms. His policies have come to be known as Abenomics.
In July of 2015, Greece missed a payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the first advanced economy to do so in the fund’s 71-year history. Following the default, the eurozone landed in crisis of confidence with many also pointing to effectiveness of IMF policies.
In November of 2015, Canada got worldwide attention when Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister. The son of former premier Pierre Trudeau took office promising to lower taxes of middle-income Canadians, to rebuild relations with indigenous people and run an open, ethical and transparent government. More than his policies, Trudeau attracted much attention for being named one of the “sexiest” men alive by Vogue, among others.
2016: United States of America
In February of that year, after an intense battle, Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for the 2016 United States election. The “unlikely” candidate beat out several seasoned politicians including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich. On the Democratic side, it was equally intense when Hillary Clinton, initially perceived to be a shoo-in for the nomination, faced an unexpected challenge from Senator Bernie Sanders.
In November, Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. Trump triumphed over Hillary Clinton despite losing the popular vote. Trump is the oldest and wealthiest person to assume the Presidency. Despite running a highly polarising campaign, Trump emerged victorious riding on the platform to “Make America Great Again.” In his inauguration speech, “Together we will determine the course of America and the world for many, many years to come.”
In May, Emmanuel Macron became France’s youngest President in a decisive win against the far-right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen. Macron’s win was a symbolic one for liberals after Britain voted for Brexit and the US elected Donald Trump. Pundits had predicted that a Le Pen win would have resulted in a “Frexit” that would eventually have led to the fall of the European Union. In his victory speech, Macron said he would work to unite a divided and fractured France. The world was watching, he said, and “waiting for us to defend the spirit of Enlightenment, threatened in so many places.”
On May 9, Malaysians put an end to Barisan Nasional (BN) rule when the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition took power in an unprecedented victory. BN had enjoyed being in power since 1957. The election was a contentious one with Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad joining forces with his former foe Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim and other opposition leaders to oust the scandal-ridden Dato’ Sri Najib Razak whose leadership threatened to destroy the legacy built by Mahathir.
The historic election saw PH retain two states – Penang and Selangor but also capture Kedah, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor. Of Parliament’s 222 seats, PH secured 121 while BN won 79. The win saw the 93-year old Mahathir return to power, making history as the world’s oldest head of state. The election also saw the country appointing its first woman Deputy Prime Minister, Dato’s Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, then leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
2015: YEEZY DOES IT
We are not sure how Kanye West still keeps the massive followers he does, when fame kicked off for him following the success of his earlier albums like The College Dropout (2004) and 808s & Heartbreak (2008), and things got a tad big in his head that he started calling himself “Yeezus” circa 2013.
Despite the many controversies he was caught up in, (partially due to some God complex he is caught up in, we can only venture to guess): his whacked tweets and comments; being a sore loser at various awards shows, a couple of times seemingly on Beyonce’s behalf; not to mention his support towards the widely unpopular U.S President Donald Trump, and his somewhat delusion of running for US Presidency in 2020… yet, his Millennial fans lapped it all up, and still queued up for his nominal adidas Yeezy Boost, every time the ballots go online to queue up for yet another colourway drop since its first in 2015, following the fallout of West’s collaboration with Nike for the Air Yeezy in 2009, and the Air Yeezy II in 2012 and 2014.
The adidas Yeezy Boost, in all the glory of its clunky soles, some 20 colourways and six designs to date, needs no introduction at this point: from the 9,000-piece 750 Boost in Light Brown, which sold out within 10 minutes worldwide, to the most recent 350 Boost V2 Butter which dropped end of June. In fact, it’s one of those crazy buys so-called sneakerheads would cash in for without a proper explanation but simply, “It’s Yeezy Boost!”
Launched alongside the adidas Yeezy Boost debut in 2015 was West’s first ready-to-wear collection all to his own monarch, Yeezy Season 1. Skin-coloured basicwear aside, pieces from the collection goes up to USD3,000!
Despite the bomb of Yeezy Season 1, and adidas subsequently pulling out from the apparel collaboration with West, and only focusing on footwear, the Yeezy army still follows where the Yeezus goes 10 years on. In 2008, West self-proclaimed to the public that he will go down in history as “the voice of this generation”. While many might have scoffed at his comments back then, 10 years later, we have a feeling that he might be right.
2015-2016: THE RISE OF THE SMARTWATCH
Breitling released its Cockpit B50 Superquartz watch and while most luxury brands may shun quartz, the Cockpit B50 puts function over form, allowing for users to have a vast number of features. True to its name, the list of functions reads like an airplane’s actual cockpit: a perpetual calendar, 1/100 of a second chronograph, alarms, battery charge indicator, countdown timer, electronic tachometer, second timezone, count-up mission elapsed time (MET) indicator, and a flight time chronograph.
Due to the B50’s professional, utilitarian, multipurpose nature, Breitling’s choice in embracing the digital side of things came as no shock then. The Breitling B55 Connected is what one can describe as the “easier to use” B50 as it allows users to adjust all the functions listed before on their smartphones. Think of your smartphone as a remote control that can now program the watch just as you want it.
Montblanc and IWC Schaffhausen were among the surprising brands that sought to dip a toe in the digital world. Not willing to sacrifice the mechanical aspect of their timepieces, both the brands announced that their offerings to the digital space would go into the straps of their timepieces. For Montblanc, its Timewalker Urban Speed e-Strap combines wearable technology and the finesse of fine watchmaking.
The device, integrated into an interchangeable strap, offers a bevy of functions that include an activity tracker, smart notifications, remote controls and Find-Me functions. Able to connect to both Android and iOS smartphones, the e-Strap was presented on Montblanc’s latest Timewalker Urban Speed collection that features three models. IWC’s Connect follows the same principle – an intelligent tool embedded in straps. Like the Montblanc e-Strap, IWC Connect allows owners to be connected to their smartphones via Bluetooth and will have the ability for smart notifications and activity tracking.
Perhaps the best example of innovation from Swiss watchmaking came from TAG Heuer and its partnership with Google and Intel. Working with the two digital giants, TAG Heuer released its Connected smartwatch that boasts complete tracking ability for fitness needs, custom themes for numerous display options and best of all, a full titanium case.
The apps customised for TAG Heuer on an exclusive basis included Insiders (lifestyle), GolfShot Pro (golf), RaceChrono Pro (motor racing) and Viewrangers (trailing). Completed by a textured black rubber strap (also available in red, blue, white, orange, green and yellow), it has all the elegant yet sporty characteristics and level of finish expected from a fine wristwatch.
Read the first part of the feature here
For an even more comprehensive rundown on the last 10 years, pick up our latest September issue featuring a 10th anniversary pull-out special, at newsstands now