High-rise living in below par, need professionalism in managing the property


Only 74 out of 7,325 high-rise residential properties in Peninsular Malaysia earned the top five-star ranking in an evaluation of their property management standards. And more than half are below par, earning only one and two stars.

IT is one thing to be a developed state by 2020. But it is another thing entirely to have a developed state of mind – and Malaysians have a long way to go to achieve that.

Take, for instance, condominium- and apartment-living.

Some of these properties may come with top notch facilities but when it comes to managing their upkeep, there is much to be desired.

Or so says the latest findings on the quality of managing stratified properties from a survey by the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry.

Every year, the ministry conducts its Strata Scheme Management Quality Evaluation, or “Star Rating”, which ranks the standards of joint management bodies (JMBs) or management corporations (MCs) of apartments and condominiums.

These bodies are ranked based on how they do in seven areas (see graphic below for details); five stars is the highest rank.

But, as it turns out, more than half – or 69% – of condominiums and apartments nationwide ranked “below par”, scoring only one and two stars in 2015. In 2014, a slightly smaller percentage, 65%, were ranked below par.

Only 1% – or 74 – out of 7,325 strata development schemes surveyed earned five stars in the 2015 ratings, made available to Sunday Star.

If such a trend continues, future residents will inherit poor standards of living amidst modern facilities.

Currently, almost six million Malaysians out of 20 million city folk are living in stratified buildings like apartments and condominiums.

“But this number is expected to rise in future as the country progresses and becomes more urbanised,” says Mohammad Ridzwan Abidin, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry urban service division under-secretary.

He says one of the major problems that condo dwellers continue to face is the refusal of other residents to pay maintenance fees. Other problems are building defects and matters involving enforcement.

“For now, about 70% of residents are at a level where they are merely aware of what needs to be done in managing their property. They are not yet at a level to appreciate the benefits of cooperating with each other and creating a better living culture,” he says.

Mohamad Ridzwan says there is a need to change the mindset of people to foster more civic-minded communities in high-rise buildings.

“Future generations will likely live in stratified buildings, so people should try to set a proper precedent for them,” he says.

He points out that there are also more people moving out of landed properties and into high-rise buildings.

“This group of people will have to learn to adapt to the culture of living in stratified buildings as it is different from living in houses.

“They will need to be more inclusive of and cooperative with their neighbours,” he says, adding that they would also have to learn to be more considerate when it comes to using shared facilities.

Stressing that it all boils down to the mindset of residents, Mohamad Ridzwan highlights the case of Rumah Pangsa Orkid, a low-cost flats property in Ulu Tiram, Johor, which made it into the Malaysia Book Of Records in 2014 for obtaining the ISO 9001:2008 standard for exemplary management.

“Until today, they remain the only low cost flat development to have achieved this,” he says, adding that there are yet to be any high-end condominiums accorded the same standard.

Mohamad Ridzwan says the ministry will continue to actively educate dwellers on proper management of their properties.

“We will embark on more education programmes to promote better practices through advertisements in the mass media,” he says.

On the Strata Management Tribunals to hear disputes, Mohamad Ridzwan says four such tribunals have been successfully set up to cover different zones in Peninsular Malaysia.

“Since their formation the tribunals have heard about 200 cases per month,” he says.

In March, Sunday Star reported that residents who do not pay maintenance fees and other charges were set to face the music, with the Government forming a team to strengthen the enforcement of the Strata Management Act.

The Act also enables residents to take their disputes to a Strata Management Tribunal to settle matters.

Building Managers Association of Malaysia committee member Richard Chan agrees that the “biggest and most critical” problem is the collection of fees, saying that it is rare that JMBs or MCs are able to collect payment from 80% of residents.

“It is more common for the collection rate to be at 40% or 50%,” he says.

Chan laments that petty excuses are often given by residents to defend their refusal to pay up.

“Some refuse because they don’t use the facilities.

“When people ask why they don’t want to pay, they simply say they don’t swim or play tennis,” he shares.

Chan adds that many unit owners live elsewhere or are based overseas and so are reluctant to pay.

“Some are not satisfied with services like garbage collection and defy orders to settle the fees,” he says.

He urges future condo owners to refrain from buying properties that come with all sorts of facilities if they are unwilling to pay up.

“Sometimes, it isn’t about whether they can afford the fees or service charges. It is about their attitude and mentality.

“Some don’t pay simply because their neighbours are not paying and are getting away with it,” Chan says, adding that such attitudes have resulted in some apartments owing up to RM200,000 in water and electricity bills.

The lack of money in the sinking fund also hinders JMBs and MCs from paying for major works like repairing lifts.

“It becomes a vicious cycle. Because people are not satisfied with the upkeep of the place, they do not pay the fees.

“But when they do not pay, there isn’t enough funds for upkeep,” he says.

Also, developers must do their part by informing all potential property buyers of the exact amount of all service charges, says Chan.

“Developers will try to promote their projects for more sales but they should also inform buyers of the fees they are expected to pay.

“Owners should also consider that, after a year, the fees may go up as warranty periods for equipment expire,” he says.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj says many complaints against MCs have been made to the federation.

“High-end condominiums are generally better managed. We received a lot of complaints from people in medium cost apartments,” he says.

He says that consumers and the building management should both be more responsible.

“Consumers need to settle payments that they have agreed to. But they should also be receiving good service in return, like efficient rubbish collection,” he says.

Selvaraj highlights that the only way forward is for management bodies and residents to have a good working relationship.

“People should understand that managing their building is a collective responsibility.

“More dialogues should be held on how to improve the community to ensure good quality of life wherever we live,” he adds.

by Yuen Meikeng The Star/Asia News Network

More professionalism needed in managing high-rises

WITH more high-rises mushrooming, a Building Managers Board is urgently needed, according to Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok, deputy president of the Building Managers Association of Malaysia (BMAM).

BMAM is an umbrella body comprising stakeholder organisations representing management corporations (MCs), joint management bodies (JMBs), chambers of commerce, developers, engineers, architects, shopping and high-rise complex managers, and managing agents.

Appealing to the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry to set up the board urgently, Teo says such a body is long overdue.

“Millions of stratified properties are coming up. Building management is becoming a very big industry. We have to start regulating. All building managers must be registered and regulated,” he says.

To date, some 600 building managers have voluntarily registered with the association, he shares, estimating that there are probably tens of thousands more.

Meanwhile, the BMAM is focused on educating its members and interested parties on good management via collaborations with institutions of higher learning.

Describing building management as a multitasking, multi­discipline function that attracts people from various backgrounds and with a variety of skills, Teo says that basic criteria for the role is needed. A Building Managers Board, once set up, will have guidelines and regulations to bring professionalism to the role.

Persons deregistered by the board cannot be hired as property managers, he suggests. This, he feels, will make hiring building managers cheaper while ensuring that they are monitored.

“So long as they fulfil the board’s requirements, anyone can be a building manager. The board will monitor and weed out the errant ones. JMBs and MCs can hire cheaper, smaller companies, even individuals, to manage their buildings if they don’t have the budget.”

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry urban service division undersecretary Mohammad Ridzwan Abidin acknowledges the proposal to set up a Building Managers Board.

“However, no decision can be made by the ministry yet as this matter is still being discussed,” he says.

He says the ministry issued a directive to Commissioners of Buildings nationwide last month to register all managing agents to protect residents from unscrupulous parties.

The BMAM would also like to see the country’s 150-plus Commissioners of Buildings (COB) given proper funding and staff. The role of the commissioner is mostly undertaken by local council heads or mayors, which isn’t right because they already have so much on their plate, he says.

The Commissioner of Buildings must be a dedicated, full-time position supported by an adequately funded department. Now, it’s mainly a one-man show, he observes.

“The Act is a good tool,” he says, referring to the Strata Management Act 2013, “But it’s for the COB to implement it efficiently. An effective COB can nip many things in the bud – the COB can call a unit owner, find out the grouses and give directives. If the COB can offer easy resolution, a lot of problems will be solved.”

Apart from supporting the position of COB, JMBs and MCs must familiarise themselves with the Strata Management Act, says Richard Chan, a committee member of the Building Managers Association of Malaysia and a past president of the Malaysian Association for Shopping and High-Rise Complex Management.

“For instance, many aren’t aware that money collected should go to JMBs and MCs – not the companies or individuals hired to manage the property. What if these companies don’t pay the service contractors?”

On Tuesday, a full-day strata management seminar will be held at Wisma Rehda in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, to explain the Act, he says, urging stakeholders to attend the event.

Teo feels that the Act is too harsh on JMB volunteers. Calling it a thankless job, he says it’s difficult getting residents to even attend AGMs, what more serve on the JMB.

“Despite not being paid, JMB members risk personal liability actions. It’s too onerous. It’s overkill because there are already laws like the Penal Code which imposes fines and jail terms.”

And he feels that the Act places too many obstacles in front of willing volunteers.

“The JMB chairman and members can only serve for two and three years respectively. Such restrictions will make things worse because as it is, no one wants the job. Our solution is to extend the chairman’s term to three years; but if at the AGM there’s no one else who wants the post, he or she should be allowed to stay on. And members should be permitted to stay on for as long as they want.” –  The Star

Related articles:

 

Defeating the defaulters

It’s a crime not to pay 

Why some people don’t comply 

The Star OnlineSep 24, 2016
Record-breaking: Rumah Pangsa Orkid is the first low-cost property to achieve the top standard for quality management.

Room for improvement

 THERE are mixed views, but apartment and condominium residents generally agree that there is room for improvement in managing their .

 

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Vital to know your rights when get arrested; comments on social media not be a serious crime


Know the law: Citizens need to know how to react if approached or arrested by police.

YOU wake up, read the latest news updates on your mobile phone, retweet some interesting comments, and post your own reactions. Just another ordinary day, right?

Wrong. If you are not careful, that retweet or comment might land you in legal hot water.

Former journalist Sidek Kamiso found himself in that predicament early last week when a band of plain-clothed policemen banged on his door at 4.40am to arrest him for an alleged Twitter insult. They had not only come for him at an ungodly hour but also reportedly jumped over the fence to forcefully nab him.

After checking their identification, Sidek had let them in, although they did not produce an arrest warrant. The police officers then searched the house, confiscating his phone and laptop before dragging him away in handcuffs to the police station.

The conduct of the police and the nature of that alleged offence notwithstanding, how many of us would have just opened the door when the intruders commanded, “We are the Police! Open the door!” and let them in?

Confirming the police officers’ identity first is extremely important, stresses Sevan Doraisamy, executive director of human rights advocate group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).

Many Malaysians are too quick to obey whatever the police tell them to do without first confirming the officers’ identity, says Sevan.

“We always advise the public to ask the police to identify themselves and show their identity card when they are stopped on the street by someone who claims to be the police or when the police go to their house,” he adds, highlighting the public workshops on human rights and the police that Suaram has been holding for more than a decade.

It is normal for policemen on duty on the ground to be in plain clothes, which is why it is crucial to establish their identity.

Eric Paulsen (C) arriving at the lobby of Kuala Lumpur court to have his sedition charge read to him.AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star 06 Feb 2015

Eric Paulsen (C) arriving at the lobby of Kuala Lumpur court to have his sedition charge read to him.AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star 06 Feb 2015 The laws like the CPC and IGP’s Standing Order clearly protects a person’s fundamental liberties, but they are also general. – Eric Paulsen

Senior level police officers, from the rank of Inspector and above, carry blue IDs, while constables and below carry yellow cards. Reserve police carry white IDs while red is for suspended policemen.

According to Suaram, when making arrests, conducting raids, roadblocks or body searches, a police officer of at least the rank of Inspector (with a blue ID) must be present.

“You can also ask them which police station they are from and call it to verify the officers’ identity,” says Sevan.

Another safeguard against unlawful arrests or violations of a person’s civil rights is the police warrant.

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has asserted that an arrest warrant was not necessary when the police arrested Sidek at his home in Petaling Jaya, as the alleged offence, over a tweet on the death of PAS spiritual leader Datuk Dr Haron Din, fell under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998.

“For this offence, a warrant is not needed. For offences under the (CMA) Act, there is no need for warrants. There is no need for a warrant to detain and no need for a warrant to search homes,” he reportedly said.

The local legal fraternity was quick to refute him.

According to lawyer Siti Kasim, who represented Sidek’s family, a warrant was necessary in his case as arrests made under the CMA generally requires a warrant.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Research Team on Crime and Policing head Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy. (CHARLES MARIASOOSAY/ The Star/06/ March 2016).

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Research Team on Crime and Policing head Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy. (CHARLES MARIASOOSAY/ The Star/06/ March 2016). ‘Police personnel who violate criminal laws and other regulations will have to face the consequences’.

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan concurred, explaining that although the police have general powers to make arrests without warrants, they can only do so for offences that are listed as seizable offences under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), namely those carrying the maximum jail sentence of three years and above.

But for offences under the CMA which carry a maximum jail term of one year, the police would need a warrant when making arrests, he reportedly said.

Conceding that the details of the law might be beyond a layman’s grasp, Sevan advises members of the public to always demand for a warrant when they are being arrested.

What is important, he adds, is that any arrest can only be made after adequate investigation has been conducted on a case.

“You cannot be arrested if you are a witness or just to assist the police in an investigation.

“Always ask if you are being arrested, and for what charge or under what Act. There is no harm in also asking for the warrant,” he notes, adding that in any CMA case, the investigation should first be conducted by the country’s Internet regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), before any police arrest.

And just like in the American cop movies and television series, when we are arrested in Malaysia, our fundamental rights are guaranteed, as stipulated under the Federal Constitution, the amended CPC and the IGP’s Standing Order on Arrest, says Sevan.

Just don’t expect to be read the Miranda Rights, those words many of us have grown up hearing on the telly: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”

Still, as stated on the Malaysian Bar website, our right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions when arrested is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

Under the Constitution, a person also has a fundamental right to be informed of the grounds of his arrest as soon as possible, as well as a right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.

These rights are clearly spelt out and reiterated under Section 28A of the CPC which came into force in September 2007: An arrested person has the right to be informed as soon as may be the grounds for this arrest; to contact a legal practitioner of his choice within 24 hours from the time of his arrest; to communicate with a relative or friend of his with regards to his whereabouts within 24 hours from the time of his arrest; and the right to consult with his lawyer and the lawyer is allowed to be present and to meet the arrested person at the place of detention before the police commences any form of questioning or recording of any statement from the person arrested.

SEVAN DORAISAMY TAMAN SRI CHERAS HOUSING PROJECT ABANDONED COORDINATOR

SEVAN DORAISAMY TAMAN SRI CHERAS HOUSING PROJECT ABANDONED COORDINATOR ‘Ask if you are being arrested, and for what charge or under what Act. There is no harm in also asking for the warrant’. – Sevan Doraisamy

“We always advise those arrested to remain silent in order not to unknowingly incriminate themselves or be forced to make a confession. You can also say, ‘Saya jawab di mahkamah.’ (I’ll answer or say it in court),” Sevan notes.

As for family members, he advises them to get the name of the police station that the arresting police officers are from and are taking their loved one to.

At the police station, he adds, they need to get the name of the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case and his or her contact details.

“The good thing now is that the police’ public communications have greatly improved, and the IO will usually give out their handphone numbers to the family members,” he says, commending Sidek and his wife, Norlin Wan Musa, who is also a former journalist, for knowing and exercising their rights when the police took Sidek to the Johor Baru police station without informing her, and when they allegedly intimidated her and tried to harass their children.

Unfortunately, says Sevan, many Malaysians don’t know their rights when they get arrested, making it easy for errant police officers to intimidate them or abuse their rights.

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen concurs, stressing that the police also need to act responsibly and reasonably, in accordance to their Standard Operating Procedure when conducting an arrest.

“The laws like the CPC and IGP’s Standing Order clearly protects a person’s fundamental liberties, but they are also general, especially in their wording.

“They were drafted with the expectation that the police would act reasonably and without bias in accordance to their SOP,” he says, describing the police conduct in the arrest of Sidek and two others in relation to the “Twitter insult” as excessive and an abuse of police powers.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail urges the police to defend civil liberties in Malaysia rather than repress the exercise of human rights.

“In essence, the police should be the face of human rights, and not a face of intimidation, even as the police needs to be the bulwark of the country’s security. Regulations are being promulgated in a sweeping fashion that will have the effect of threatening democratic practice and undermine the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” he had reiterated in his speech at the Malaysian Bar’s International Law Conference in Kuala Lumpur last week.

Khalid has given assurances that the police are subject to the laws and regulations enshrined in the Constitution.

“If we flout the laws, action will be taken against us. We are also subjected to the laws and regulations under the Constitution. So are the Members of Parliament,” he told a press conference after a dialogue with Universiti Utara Malaysia students in Sintok, Kedah, on the role of undergraduates in overcoming national security threats.

Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist, Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy agrees that nobody should be above the law, especially the police.

“Police personnel who violate criminal laws and other regulations will have to face the consequences. Everyone who gets arrested has equal rights under the Federal Constitution and the CPC, irrespective of the nature of the case, so the police and the prosecution need to adhere to the law without bias. If they did not follow the SOP that is clearly spelt out then they should have to face the legal consequences, ”he says.

Critically, he adds, it is important for the general public to be aware of the laws of the land and their rights.

“Especially now that social media is an integral and pervasive part of our day-to-day lives. People need to be aware of the law – you make choices in life and you need to face their consequences.

“Similarly, you make your choice of tweeting and retweeting something or posting anything and making comments on social media, so you will have to bear the consequences.”

And as Dr Sundramoorthy puts it bluntly, “If you are so good at using social media, you should also be able to source the relevant information on the law and your civil rights online.

“If you are an expert on social media, you should be able to Google the dos and don’ts of when you are arrested, from the Malaysia Bar website and other civil society groups.”

By Hariati Azizan The Star/Asia News Network

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

When Police stop you on the street

■ If cop not in uniform, ask to see his/her Police authority card. Note cop’s name and Police authority card number.

■ If cop in uniform, note cop’s name and ID on uniform, and number plate of vehicle.

When Police question you on the street

■ Only give your name, ID card number and address.

■ Politely ask, “Am I under arrest?”. You can walk away if you are not under arrest.

When Police call you for questioning to help in investigation

■ If the place and time is convenient for you, cooperate. Important: Police cannot arrest you if you are a witness.

■ If not, you can negotiate for a more convenient time and place with Police.


When Police arrest you

■ Ask why you are under arrest.

■ Ask which Police Station they are taking you to.

■ You have the right to telephone:* i) Your relative or friend ii) A lawyer or a nearby Legal Aid Centre (LAC)

► Inform them: – you have been arrested; – the time, place and reason of the arrest; – the Police Station you will be taken to.
 

In police raids and searches

■ Demand for a warrant – raids without warrant are usually done when Police believe their suspect is in the building, stolen goods are hidden in the premises or some criminal activity is going on there.

After arrest and during detention

You may be detained up to 24 hours at the Police Station, or in a lock-up to “assist” police investigation.

YOUR BASIC RIGHTS WHEN UNDER ARREST

Right to remain silent

The Federal Constitution gives you the right to remain silent when questioned.

Right to counsel

– Under Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution, an arrested person also has the right “to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice”.

– Section 28A of Criminal Procedure Code, which came into force in 2007, also gives an arrested person the right to consult a lawyer.

– The Police must accord you reasonable facilities and a reasonable time period to meet and consult your lawyer. This right can be denied if the delay in questioning you may cause the occurrence of another crime or cause danger to others.

Right to clothing

You are allowed to have one set of clothing with you in the lock-up.

Right to personal belongings
The Police must record and put all your personal belongings in safe custody. Your personal belongings must be returned to you upon your release.

Right to welfare

– You are allowed to take a bath two times a day. If you are sick, you have the right to receive immediate medical attention. – You are to be given proper and adequate food and water during detention.

The Police may only detain you for up to 24 hours for investigation.

It is the Police’s duty to complete their investigations within 24 hours and release you as soon as possible. Failing that, the Police must bring you before a Magistrate for a remand order to extend your detention beyond 24 hours (Remand Order).
For more information, check out the Malaysian Bar’s Redbook pamphlet at http://bit.ly/KBZhlw

Source: The Malaysian Bar, Suaram

Making comments on social media should not be a serious crime, says don

TWO years ago, a 17-year-old boy was investigated for sedition when he “liked” a pro-Israel Facebook post. When questioned by the police, the student had explained that he had accidentally clicked “like” for the post that read “I love Israel” and featured a picture of the Jewish state’s flag.

We will see more and more “insensitive” and “ill-advised” online postings like this – either done intentionally or not – with the Internet and social media growing as an integral and pervasive part of our daily life, says Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist, Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy.

“We have seen this trend of ‘slanderous’, ‘defamatory’ and ‘insensitive’ remarks constantly being made by all segments of society. It is not limited to people in leadership positions or prominence, ordinary people are also making these comments, including the young.”

As he sees it, stopping people from expressing themselves when they have access to these channels will be impossible.

“We can’t stop people from using the Internet and social media, and many will use them without thinking of the consequences. The question is where do you draw the line for freedom of expression?” he poses.

“For the proponents of absolute freedom of expression, they will say it’s the right of the people to express themselves.

“People who are against absolute freedom of expression will say that this freedom will create chaos, disharmony and trouble in general, and they will prefer some sort of censorship.”

The issue was thrust under the spotlight again recently with the arrest of three people under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 for their Twitter comments over the death of PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Dr Haron Din.

This time around, the glare was on the police conduct during the arrests – the police had allegedly trespassed into the compound of former journalist Sidek Kamiso’s house in the wee hours of the night to arrest him for his tweet, traumatising his wife and children. The police had also allegedly searched his house without a warrant while denying him his right to contact his family and lawyer after his arrest.

While he believes that it depends on the laws of the land, Dr Sundramoorthy feels that social media boo-boos should not be treated as a crime per se.

“Granted, there are limitations on the subject matters that we can comment on as they can create racial or religious disharmony and other types of conflict among citizens here, but we need to take a reasonable approach towards it.”

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy frankly describes the police action towards Sidek as “excessive and a waste of resources”.

He says many of the CMA cases undertaken by the police do not meet the criteria of hate speech and dangerous speech to justify arrests or prosecution. In fact, he stresses, the cases are a “severe threat” to freedom of expression.

“If you ask me, ‘insensitive comments’ should not be an arrestable crime. It is also unacceptable that just because of one or two incidences of inadvisable comments, the Government should curb the freedom of expression of everyone.”

He points out that CMA cases can be investigated without physical detention. “If the police receive reports on alleged insensitive comments, they should not waste their resources to arrest the people, they can just call them in to give their statement.

“And the top officers do not need to get involved, especially when there are more serious crimes and security issues in the country – for instance, we have hundreds of people still missing from unsolved abduction and kidnapping cases,” he says. “Crucially, there is no need for those detained in Petaling Jaya to be taken to Johor Baru for investigations, for example, as it is a waste of public resources.”

Sevan, however, concedes that Malaysians need to be more responsible when using social media.

“It should not be a crime – people have a right to express themselves – but they need to be responsible about what they post or comment on.

“While they continue to assert their freedom of expression, people should also realise that they don’t need to comment on everything and anything, especially if they know that it might lead to slander or instigate something. We are still living in a sensitive society entrenched in racial and communal politics. You don’t want to get caught in the middle of it,” he says.

Denying that they are making light of hate speech, Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen contends that the Government and Malaysian authorities need to come to terms with social media.

“Nobody is saying that the Internet and social media should be free for all – if someone promotes hate or threatens someone with murder or rape online, or if they are cyber terrorists, then police should take action against them. But they need to be fair, and the legal action should be proportionate.

“We should not prosecute someone for a mere comment – no matter how unsavoury or insulting we think it is. Without any serious element of hate speech or real element of incitement to violence or harm it should not be a crime.”

Paulsen also believes that the police conduct in the arrest of Sidek was excessive, calling it “overkill”.

Declining to comment on whether there is a need to review the CMA or enforce a hate speech law, Paulsen says what is needed is a review of police policies.

“What are their priorities in crime fighting? What constitutes serious crime for the police? Anywhere in the world, corruption, criminal breach of trust, robbery and murder are traditionally considered the serious crimes and resources are channelled towards fighting them. Unfortunately in Malaysia, a lot of our resources are wasted on frivolous cases like this.” – The Star

Canny Ong murder case remember? Killer Ahmad Najib finally hanged at Kajang prison


 

Ahmad Najib Aris (center). – Filepic

PETALING JAYA: After spending 11 years on death row and having exhausted all his appeals, Ahmad Najib Aris (pic) was finally executed for the 2003 murder of Canny Ong.

The former aircraft cabin cleaning supervisor, who killed Ong after abducting her from a shopping complex in Bangsar, was hanged early yesterday.

A Kajang prison spokesman said Ahmad Najib, 40, was executed at about 6am and his body was later buried at the Sungai Kantan Muslim cemetery in Kajang.

He said Ahmad Najib was allowed to meet his family members for the last time on Thursday.

Ahmad Najib’s former lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla described him as a “good Muslim” while in jail.

He said prison officials had told him that Ahmad Najib became a good Muslim, and often led prayers in jail and also taught other inmates about religion.

“To me, at least the time he was in prison, he was a better person than many outside,” he told The Star.

Ahmad Najib was sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court on Feb 23, 2005, for murdering Ong, then 28, at the 11th kilometre of Jalan Klang Lama between 1am and 5am on June 14, 2003.

He was also given the maximum jail term of 20 years and ordered to be given 10 strokes of the rotan for raping Ong.

In March 2009, the Federal Court upheld his death sentence for the crimes committed against Ong, whose charred remains were found in a manhole near a highway construction site.

Ong, an IT-analyst living in the United States with her husband Brandon Ong, was back in Malaysia to visit her ailing father.

On June 13, 2003, a day before she was due to return to the United States, Ong went out for dinner with some family members and close friends at the Bangsar Shopping Complex.

After the meal, she went to the basement car park to retrieve the parking ticket from her car. She asked her mother and sister to wait for her by the autopay machine.

Ong never returned.

After waiting for 20 minutes, Ong’s mother Pearly Visvanathan Ong and her sister decided to look for her in the car park.

When they went down they found the car, a purple Proton Tiara, missing.

Sensing something bad had happened to her daughter, Pearly ran to the mall’s security office to view the CCTV tapes.

The tapes confirmed their worst fears. They saw Ong being abducted by a man who drove off with her in her car, crashing past the exit barrier of the car park.

Days later, Ong’s charred remains were found in a manhole along Old Klang Road in Kuala Lumpur.

Forensic and criminal investigators found evidence that led to the arrest of Ahmad Najib.

The news of Ong’s murder was covered widely by the media and followed intently by the public.

The randomness of the crime – Ahmad Najib had no apparent motive – made it all the more horrific and prompted many unsolicited and baseless conspiracy theories much to the dismay of Ong’s loved ones.

by Jastin Ahmad Tarmizi The Star/Asia News Network

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New ways to beat superbugs, a Malaysian doctorate student discovered?


A Malaysian doctorate student is causing a buzz in the medical research field.

Lam Shu Jie (pic), 25, and her team of researchers may have found a solution to the antibiotic-resistant bacteria commonly known as “superbugs”.


The team from Melbourne School of Engineering published a paper on Monday on a new treatment method.

Shu Lam A 25 year-old Melbourne Uni student has made a discovery that could be a game-changer for modern medicine and avert a serious health crisis.

The method uses star-shaped structures called structurally nano-engineered anti-microbial peptide polymers (SNAPPs).

SNAPPs are found to be highly effective in killing Gram-negative bacteria – a class of bacteria which is antibiotic resistant – without hurting healthy cells, according to the team’s article in Nature Microbiology.

Unlike antibiotics which attempt to kill the bugs chemically, the star-shaped protein molecules defeat them by “ripping apart their cell walls”.

She also found that it was important to have outside interest due to the research work’s long hours and possibility of failure..

“I’ve just watched the Korean movie called ‘Train to Busan’. I also like trying new cuisines and exploring cafes here because the food culture’s very strong,” she laughed..

She lamented that the initial experiments were daunting, which left her in fear..

“My experiments kept failing, but later I learned what went wrong. I like the investigating part of research. It’s beyond being in the labs or reading books; it’s also about speaking with other experts,” she said..

The second child of three siblings still has strong ties with home..

“I try to come back for the Chinese New Year because I miss my family,” she said while lamenting the loss of her father last year..

Despite her supervisor Prof. Greg Qiao reportedly saying that her research is still at its early stage, Lam has plans to continue her research in the field, while in the long-term, she expressed hope to establish a research group with experts upon returning home and also lecture..

She will complete her PhD in two months time..

The scientific breakthrough was picked up by many news portals including Science Daily, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the South China Morning Post.

Lam told South China Morning Post that she spent the past three and a half years researching polymers and how they can be used to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The Batu Pahat lass, who is to submit her PhD thesis in two months, admitted that she hoped to continue to work in research, rather than opt for medical training like her father who is a paediatrician.

“I think my career will be mainly focused on research in the medical field,” said Lam.

Her supervisor Prof Greg Qiao, who is also one of the 10 co-authors of the scientific journal, said the research was still in its early stages.

He told South China Morning Post that more work was needed to verify the best formula and structure, as well as determine dosage and test for toxicity, before the substance could be deemed safe for human use.

“Even with all the money in the world, it would take at least five years to get to the first human-test stage because many resources and much work are needed before commercialisation,” he said.

Superbugs stem from misuse or overuse of antibiotics, according to the World Health Organisation.

It lists anti-microbial resistance as a global concern that threatens our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability and death. The Star/Asia News Network.
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“I think my career will be mainly focused on
research in the medical field,” said Lam, who has already begun pursuing
her passion in polymer research during her four-year undergraduate
degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering.
“As an undergraduate, she would come to our group for summer work when she had time,” Qiao recalled of Lam.
These days when Lam finds the rare downtime between researching polymers, she likes to watch TV and explore the city. “Being in Melbourne, I have developed an interest in food and really like exploring new cafes and brunch places, so I spend a lot of time trying new food and walking around when I’m not working,” Lam said.
Lam moved to Australia for her foundation studies after finishing primary and secondary school in Malaysia, and is likely stay on in Australia after graduating at the end of the year.
“My main preference would be to continue to stay in research, but I am also looking at career fields outside of polymer research,” she said. “This research is going in different directions,” said Qiao. “One is killing the bug, the other is treating cancer.”
Her group is also examining the use of polymers as a drug carrier for cancer patients as well as the treatment of other diseases.
A key project at the moment is the synthetic transplant of cornea in the eye, which involves the use of polymers grown from the patient’s own cells in the lab to replace the damaged cornea.
The operation has already been tested multiple times successfully on sheep, and Qiao hopes to begin the first human trials in Melbourne within two years, working with the Melbourne Eye and Ear Hospital.

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People’s Daily criticizes USA as ” source of turnmoi in the world “


霸气!党报狠批美国为世界“动荡之源”

导读:尽管和平与发展是当今世界的主题,但是局部冲突依旧不断,而这背后,或多或少都有美国在插手。

党报狠批美国_英语新闻网

The People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, has criticized the United States as the “source of turmoil in the world.”

北京9月18日电 中国共产党官方报纸《人民日报》批评美国为“世界动荡之源”。

The newspaper on Sunday published three articles by Chinese scholars to analyze the causes of expansive and hegemonic moves by the United States from systemic, ideological and strategic perspectives.

《人民日报》于周日发表了三篇由中国学者撰写的文章,从内在体制、意识形态、国家战略方面分析美国的扩张和霸权主义运动。

An editor’s note on the page said that U.S. interventions are behind unrest and disputes in many places, including the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the South China Sea.

报纸上一位编者的卷首语写道,多地的动荡和纷争背后都有美国的插手,包括中东、东欧和南海。

“The United States is keen to make messes in the world, cast shadows on order and stability in multiple regions and jeopardize peace and development in relevant countries,” the note said.

“美国热衷于在世界制造混乱,给多个地区的秩序与稳定投下阴影,对相关国家的和平与发展构成威胁。”卷首语写道。

An article by Yang Guangbin, a professor of politics at Renmin University, pointed out that the “military-industrial complex,” which former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against, is “kidnapping U.S. domestic and diplomatic policy.”

杨光斌,人民大学政治学教授在文中指出,美国前总统艾森豪威尔曾警告说,“军事工业复合体”正“绑架着美国的国内和外交政策”。

The “military-industrial complex” naturally demands war and military expansion, resulting in the Iraq war, “Arab Spring” uprisings and growing tensions with Russia and China, Yang said.

“军事工业复合体”自然是要求战争和军事扩张,这就导致了伊拉克战争、“阿拉伯之春”起义以及与俄罗斯和中国关系的不断紧张。

Yang also criticized the United States for selling its ideology, which has brainwashed the elite in some non-Western countries.

杨光斌还批评了美国推广其意识形态,这洗脑了一些非西方国家的精英分子。

“Countries that have followed American-style ’liberty and democracy’ are not turning into American-style states. Instead, their lives remain the same, or even become worse,” the article said.

文章写道,“信奉美国‘自由民主’的国家并没有因此而变成美国式国家,依然过着自己固有的日子,甚至境况更差。”

Another article by Li Wen, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, noted that the United States’ eagerness to make trouble around the world is due to its “hegemonic anxiety.”

另外一篇由中国社科院的一位研究人员撰写的文章写道,由于“霸权焦虑症”,美国急切地想要煽风点火。

It is “to a large degree, a reflection of a twisted mentality of an empire moving downhill,” according to the article.

文章写道,这“很大程度上是一个衰落中的帝国特有的心理扭曲在行为上的反映。”

The scholar also denounced the United States’ measures to contain China by causing trouble in East Asia.

这位学者还谴责了美国通过在东亚制造事端包围中国的措施。

A third article by Lin Hongyu, a professor at Huaqiao University, said U.S. maneuvers in the Asia-Pacific region are just part of its overseas expansion and interventionist diplomacy to maintain its leading international role.

第三篇文章由华侨大学教授林宏宇写道,他表示,美国在亚太地区的军事演习只是其海洋扩张和干预外交的一部分,目的是为了维持主导的国际地位。

The article called on Chinese authorities to manage disputes between China and the United States in a constructive way and to build a new type of major-country relationship together.

这篇文章呼吁中国政府以建设性的方式处理中美之间的争端,共同建立一种新型的大国关系。

Source: 编辑:David Yang (人民网) 双语

http://news.iyuba.com/m/essay/2016/09/19/49492.html

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A new China in the making at Xiamen International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT)


Brisk business: A popular “food cultural village” that sells typical Xiamen food near Xiamen University.

It was a case of chin up, chest out at the recently concluded CIFIT in Xiamen, with the doors swung wide open to foreign sophisticated industries and its private industries poised to venture out.

China’s economic growth may be slowing down after three decades of high growth, but the 19th China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) held at Xiamen from Sept 8 to 11 showcased a “new China” that is confidently restructuring its economy in response to global challenges.

CIFIT 2016 themed “New Concept, New Development: Towards a new world of open economy” clearly signified China’s readiness to embrace reforms, after it has sailed through the exciting period of opening up in the 1980s-1990s, and the 2008 crisis that hit its industries badly.

A new China will discard China-made cheap and low-quality industrial products, and counterfeits – rampant at the beginning of the opening-up and even to this day, but will want to see quality enterprises that can compete internationally with high-end goods and services, such as those provided by Huawei, Lenovo and Haier.

The financial crisis of 2008 and China’s disappearing demographic advantage, as well as external trade friction, have forced industries and the economy to go for structural changes. Slower economic growth backed by quality investments is to be the new norm.

New ventures: Ong (second from left) opening the ACCCIM Pavilion at Xiamen trade and investment fair CIFIT. Joining him on his left are Fujuan province Vice Governor Zhang Zhinan and ACCCIM president Ter. On his right is Xiamen Municipal financial affair director Han Jing Yi.

In fact, emerging industries that focus on quality and technology have gradually replaced traditional industries and become a driving force in economic development. Mobile phones, computers, household electrical appliances, machinery and equipment, property development and rail technology, among others, have gone global.

And the ‘One Belt, One Road’ economic initiative expounded by President Xi Jinping three years ago is offering unprecedented opportunities to companies within the mainland to go global and have a say in the world.

While structural changes are taking place at local enterprises, China is opening up further to usher in more high-tech and high-value foreign brands to stimulate its economic development to a higher plane. This could be discerned from its Government’s policy.

At the main CIFIT forum in Xiamen on Sept 8, vice-premier Wang Yang announced in his opening speech: “From Oct 1, we will grant equal and fair treatment to all local and foreign companies incorporated in China. Our Chinese companies will have to compete with foreign-owned companies on level playing fields in China.”

This is the “new China” exhibited at the four-day CIFIT, touted to be the largest investment fair in the world, where its products and services were displayed alongside leading products from over 50 countries at 6,000 booths.

CIFIT 2016 was organised by the central government almost immediately after China successfully hosted the G20 Summit from Sept 3 to 5 in picturesque Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, with grandeur.

The world’s second-largest economy had been hailed by world leaders for its determination to boldly tackle a number of global issues, including the economy, environment, corruption and poverty.

In fact, China has the basis to be confident.

Despite weak international conditions, flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the country – albeit slower – still ranks the highest in the world so far this year, according to Wang Yang.

According to Dr Huang Chenhong, president of Dell Greater China, Dell’s headquarters in the US has committed to investing an additional US$125bil (RM517bil) in China and has pledged to contribute US$175bil (RM724bil) worth of total trade as well as bring in venture capitalists.

Going global: The short but colourful opening ceremony of CIFIT by Wang Yang on Sept 8 at China’s beautiful coastal town of Xiamen.

Huang told a CEO Summit on Sept 7 ahead of CIFIT: “All this shows that Dell continues to view China’s market positively, and will deepen our root here.”

Malaysia’s Second International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, who was a guest of honour at CIFIT’s official opening ceremony, made this observation to Sunday Star in Xiamen:

“China has evolved. It is a much, much more confident nation now. It is ready to welcome foreign sophisticated industries to promote economic development to a higher plane, and at the same time its private industries are now prepared to venture out.”

Several years ago, only state-owned enterprises and financially-strong conglomerates were ready to expand overseas, he observed.

Citing the example of Kibing Group – China’s largest and highly automated float-glass manufacturer, Ong said this privately-owned listed company is now riding on the wave of the Belt and Road Initiative to expand its manufacturing in Malaysia, research and development in Taiwan and marketing arm in Singapore.

He also noted that while China has not signed free trade agreements with many countries, trade barriers would have to be broken down once China builds rail and other communication systems in all the 65 countries along the Belt-Road route to improve connectivity.

“While it takes 40 to 45 days to ship goods from Spain to China, it only takes a train journey of 16 days for freight from Madrid to be transported to the wholesale market in Yiwu.

“This is the power of the 21st Century Silk Road rail service under the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.

On Dec 10, 2014, China and Spain was linked by the longest rail link in the world after a train from Yiwu in coastal China completed its maiden journey of 13,053km to Madrid. En route it passed through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany and France before arriving at the Abroñigal freight terminal in Madrid.

Together, the Belt and Road Initiative route covers 65 countries populated by 4.4 billion people. It has been projected that infrastructure development alone will bring in investment of US$160bil (about RM662bil) and China’s annual trade volume with Belt-Road countries will exceed US$2.5 trillion (RM10.3 trillion) in a decade or so.

The Belt-Road strategy could have as much impact on China’s internal economy as it will have internationally. One of China’s top priorities is to export industries with major overcapacity such as steel, cement and aluminium.

Datuk Ter Leong Yap, president of Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM), told Sunday Star in Xiamen: “From the three CIFITs we have participated in, we can sense that China is not only ushering in high-tech, high-value foreign investments now, but it is also encouraging its companies to go global vigorously.”

“As it has economies of scale, it is prepared to buy foreign technology and R&D (research and development) to expedite its current economic transformation.”

He noted China has gone far ahead in the development of Internet services such as e-commerce, e-trade and e-logistics; and its home-grown IT giants led by Alibaba Group and Tencent are leading the IT revolution in the world.

China is seen as building infrastructure in the Belt-Road countries now. Following this, or concurrently, is the influx of investments from its reputable high-tech and high-value industries, observed Ter.

According to Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, emerging industries that are classifed as “new China-made” are IT industry represented by Huawei, machine building sector represented by XCMG and Sany Heavy Industry, space flight and aviation, as well as bullet train and high-speed rail industries. These industries boast high technology, patents, independent innovation and top talents in the world.

“The new China-made goods not only enter into Asian and African markets, but more importantly also enter into high-end European and American markets,” Wei said in an interview with Economy and Nation Weekly.

While in many sectors China has gained global recognition, Wei noted the country is still falling behind in automobile and chips as it lacks leading enterprises and high-tech talents in these industries.

It is learnt that Chinese auto firms are now on the lookout to take over foreign car manufacturers that are armed with special technology, after the acquisition of Volvo Cars in 2010 proved highly successful in technology innovation and marketing.

Wei opined that in the next 30 to 50 years, the Belt and Road Initiative will be the way forward for successful Chinese enterprises to enter the global market for a win-win co-operation as China’s Government develops strategies with foreign nations.

According to official data, China’s direct investments in Belt-Road nations – including Malaysia – hit US$14.8bil (RM61bil) in 2015, up 18.2% from 2014.

In the first quarter of 2016, direct investments to Belt-Road countries totalled US$3.6bil (RM14.8bil), a rise of 40% compared to the first quarter of 2015. Most of these investments had gone to Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and India.

Ranked by Peking University as “the least investment risk” among the Belt-Road countries, Singapore is ahead of its Asean neighbours in grabbing opportunities: It has already signed with Chinese-funded banks to bring in financing worth over S$90bil (RM270bil) to finance projects for high-speed rail, ports and the communication industry in South-East Asia.

“The Belt-Road vision is that government sectors and enterprises should not seek quick success and instant profits, but should create long-term effects, benefit local enterprises, people and countries, and make China be seen to be a reliable partner,” said Wei.

Sources: Ho Wah Foon The Star/Asia News Network

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Tiangong-2 space lab draws global praise, with the world’s first “cold” atomic clock on board


NASA closely watches Tiangong-2 launch

  •  NASA closely watches Tiangong-2 launch. The space industry has paid close attention as China sent the Tiangong-2 lab into space. NASA is watching the Tiangong-2, as well as China’s space program in general. It says the launch marks another step on China’s long march to a permanent orbital outpost. Former…

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    China on Thursday hurled its first Tiangong-2 lab into space, marking another step forward in the country’s plans to establish a permanent station by the early 2020s.

    China’s rapid development in space exploration within the past decade has impressed the world. Martin Barstow, director of Leicester Institute of Space & Earth Observation at the University of Leicester, told Xinhua in a recent interview that China’s developing space program is another major milestone towards establishing a permanent presence in space.

    “The earlier success of the first space station (Tiangong-1) shows how the program is developing and the new space laboratory will continue to add to China’s status as a major space power,” the professor said.

    Former NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao, the first Chinese-American to be commander of the International Space Station, hailed Tiangong-2 as “another significant step for China’s human spaceflight program.”

    “China is moving in a very deliberate and orderly fashion to advance their space capability,” Chiao said. “I think the technology is good, and they are moving to get more operational experience through TG-2, before the beginning of space station construction.”

    Barstow also spoke highly of China’s space capability, saying “China is already a key player in the international space industry,” and Tiangong-2 will “enhance” its well-developed space capability.

    Gao Yang, director of Surrey Technology for Autonomous Systems and Robotics (STAR) Lab, said manned spaceflight is of indicative significance in space technology, and China’s rapid development in this area is well-known.

    British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said in an article published on Thursday that “Beijing has made space exploration a national priority and is the third country, after the Soviet Union and the U.S., to put astronauts into space.”

    INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION NEEDED

    In different interviews Xinhua carried with space experts, all mentioned the need for international cooperation in space exploration. Space station programs have always been a cradle for countries to work together, Gao said.

    Such collaboration has been vividly reflected in the Tiangong-2 mission, which carries, among a number of scientific experiments, an astrophysics detector that is the first space-science experiment built jointly by China with European countries.

    POLAR, dedicated to establishing whether the photons from Gama ray bursts (GRBs) — thought to be a particularly energetic type of stellar explosion — are polarized, was built largely with Swiss funding, and with the collaboration of Swiss, China and Polish scientists and support from the European Space Agency (ESA), according to the British journal Nature.

    POLAR project manager Nicolas Produit, who spoke to Nature, said U.S. law bars NASA from doing joint projects with China’s space agencies, but the Chinese Academy of Sciences is discussing a number of other collaborative space projects with the ESA.

    Gregory Kulacki, senior analyst and China project manager at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists’ Global Security Program, said that it is encouraging that China intends to solicit international participation in its space station project.

    “My hope is that the United States and China will, at an appropriate time in the future, find a way to cooperate in the peaceful exploration of space instead of competing to turn it into a battlefield, as they are now,” he said.

    Chiao said international coperation is “a common point of interest that helps improve overall relationships. The International Space Station is a great example of that. Many nations came together to build the amazing facility, and we are working together to further science. This helps to improve overall relations between the member countries.”

    Barstow believed that more and more countries are seeing the importance of space activity but this will not turn into a race. He said that to benefit smaller economies, a growth of space activity across the world will need to be nurtured by the major agencies like ESA, NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscomos) and China National Space Administration (CNSA).

    CHINA’S AMBITIOUS SPACE PROGRAM

    China has been actively developing a three-step manned space program since the first decade of the 21st century.

    The program’s first mission took place in 1999 with the launch of the Shenzhou-1 to examine the performance and reliability of the launcher and verify key technologies relating to capsule connection and separation, heat prevention, control and landing.

    The first step, to send an astronaut into space and return safely, was fulfilled by Yang Liwei in the Shenzhou-5 mission in 2003.

    The second step was developing advanced space flight techniques and technologies including extra-vehicular activity and orbital docking. This phase also includes the launch of two space laboratories — effectively mini space-stations that can be manned on a temporary basis.

    The next step will be to assemble and operate a permanent manned space station.

    China will begin building a space station that is more economically efficient and uses more data than the current International Space Station (ISS), starting as early as 2017, chief engineer of China’s manned space program Zhou Jianping told Xinhua on Thursday.

    With the ISS set to retire in 2024, the Chinese space station will offer a promising alternative, and it will make China the only country to have a permanent space station after the  ISS. -Xinhua

    China launched first ‘cold’ atomic clock aboard second space station

    Every clock on Earth is flawed. Even science’s most accurate atomic clocks are beholden to our planet’s gravitational pull, and end up slowing down ever so slightly over time. That’s why researchers from Shanghai decided to send one up into space.

    On Sept. 15, Chinese researchers launched a cold atomic clock into orbit around Earth, where it will only slow down by one second every billion years, as opposed to every 300 million years like the current gold-standard of atomic clocks. The Cold Atomic Clock in Space (Cacs), as it is called, will likely become humanity’s most accurate timekeeping device.

    Atomic clocks are largely used for calibrating extremely sensitive electronics, like global positioning systems (GPS), or conducting experiments in hyper accuracy-dependent disciplines like particle physics and geology. According to the South China Morning Post, the Chinese government intends to use Cacs to improve their own national GPS, which currently operates at levels below the system employed by the US.

    Atomic clocks were originally created to run on the exact measure of a second as agreed upon by the entire scientific community. Seconds used to be measured as a tiny fraction of a day. The trouble is, the average day includes a lot of variation, depending on where you are and the earth’s axial wobble, caused by its magnetic poles and, more recently, melting ice sheets.

    Scientists realized that the way that electrons (the tiny negatively charged particles that surround atoms) jump back and forth between different energy states in molecules or atoms, was a much more precise way of calculating a second. These oscillations end up appearing like vibrations that occur at a constant rate—as long as molecules or atoms are at a constant temperature. Since 1967, the official definition of a second has been “9,192,631,770 vibrations of a cesium 133 atom.”

    Laser-cooled “cold” atomic clocks are generally considered to be the most accurate clocks that exist—other clocks and watches, like the kind anyone could buy in a store, tend to slow down over time. Although it’s often just a couple of seconds, that inconsistency won’t do in a research setting.

    But alas, on Earth, even cold atomic clocks are prone to slowing down ever so slightly. Because of the force Earth’s gravity applies to atoms, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s NIST-F2 atomic clock in Boulder, Colorado will slow down by a second every 300 million years.

    Cacs, which will orbit our planet gravity-free, will use rubidium atom vibrations to keep time, and will slow down much more slowly than Earth-bound atomic clocks. It’s also a lot smaller—about the size of the trunk of a car, whereas the NIST-F2 takes up an entire room.

    Cacs was sent into space on the second Chinese space laboratory, called Tiangong-2, launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Inner Mongolia. Although there are currently no humans aboard, the China National Space Administration plans to send two astronauts to the lab in October to conduct various experiments for a month, as the next step towards launching a full-fledged space station in 2020. – Quartz @ qz.com

    China launched its second space station, Tiangong-2, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China’s Gobi desert on Thursday with the world’s first “cold” atomic clock on board – representing a pivotal step in China’s plan to become a major player in the modern-day space race.

    Two astronauts are set arrive at the station in October where they will spend one month completing experiments. Running the Cold Atomic Clock in Space, one of 14 different experiments planned for the station’s two-year orbital stint, aims to determine if escaping the effects of gravity increases the accuracy of the timepiece.

    “It is the world’s first cold atomic clock to operate in space … it will have military and civilian applications,” Professor Xu Zhen, a scientist involved with the atomic clock project, told the South China Morning Post.

    China to launch world’s first ‘cold’ atomic clock in space … and it’ll stay …

    http://www.scmp.com › News › China South China Morning Post

    Atomic clocks, some of which are so accurate that it would take billions of years to drift off by even a second, are used to conduct sensitive experiments across a variety of scientific fields and calibrate electronics used by global positioning systems.

    To keep time, these clocks rely on measuring the natural vibration rates of atoms and the scientific definition of a second: 9,192,631,770 vibrations of a cesium 133 atom. China’s cold clock will use a laser to slow down the atom and thus lessen the likelihood of the timekeeper missing one of the atom’s rotations and introducing an error, according to the South China Morning Post.

    Additionally China hopes that sending the cold clock into space and freeing the timekeeping atoms from their ties to gravity will make it more accurate than other atomic clocks currently keeping time around the world and make it capable of measuring fluctuations in microgravity.

    The station will serve as a laboratory for a variety of experiments across scientific disciplines that China expects to culminate in launching its own equivalent of the International Space Station (ISS).

    “The launch of Tiangong-2 will lay a solid foundation for the building and operation of a permanent space station in the future,” Wu Ping, deputy director of China’s manned space engineering office, said during a prelaunch briefing, according to Xinhua.

    China is not a member of the international consortium that operates the ISS (and isn’t allowed to send its astronauts to the station), so it is planning to build its own permanent space station, which at an estimated 60 tons will be 380 tons lighter than the ISS.

    China’s president, Xi Jinpin called on engineers and scientists to help advance the Chinese space program at a Space Day celebration earlier this year.

    “In establishing Space Day, we are commemorating history, passing on the spirit, and galvanising popular enthusiasm for science, exploration of the unknown and innovation, particularly among young people,” Xi said at the celebration, according to The Economic Times. “Becoming an aerospace power has always been a dream we’ve been striving for.”

    China’s ambitious goals for space exploration in the coming years include plans to study the yet-unexplored dark side of the moon, and a mission to Mars that will not only orbit the Red Planet, but land and deploy a rover. Both missions are scheduled to launch in 2020.

    Dean Cheng, a Chinese space policy expert at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C., told New Scientist that Thursday’s launch is about national pride – “a reminder that China has a manned space program, including the ability to put its own astronauts into space, something the Americans cannot do [without assistance from Russia].” – Source: Christian Science Monitor

    Astronauts given comfort upgrade on China’s new space lab

     

    New space lab will be equipped with Bluetooth, better lighting, sound dampening, exercise equipment and other features

    China’s newest space laboratory, Tiangong II, will provide more comfortable digs to astronauts living aboard than its predecessor, Tiangong I, the spacecraft’s designers said.

    Zhu Zongpeng, chief designer of Tiangong II at China Academy of Space Technology, said designers aimed to create an astronaut-friendly environment in every regard when they refitted the space lab that was developed based on Tiangong I.

    “We considered many factors including the sound, lighting, inner decorations as well as support facilities. For instance, we installed a foldable, multifunctional table that can be used for dining and experiments. We also equipped the astronauts with Bluetooth headsets and Bluetooth speakers,” he said.

    “A number of particulars were taken into account-the carpet in Tiangong I was replaced with floorboards. The light is softer and its brightness can be adjusted. Each astronaut has a bed lamp,” Zhu added.

  • Astronauts given comfort upgrade on China's new space lab
    China’s
    space lab Tiangong II roars into the air on the back of a Long March-2F
    rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China,
    Sept 15, 2016. [Photo/Xinhua]

     

    The Tiangong II consists of two cabins with separate functions-the experiment cabin will be hermetically sealed and will act as the astronauts’ living quarters, while the resource cabin will contain solar panels, storage batteries, propellant and engines.

    Liao Jianlin, a senior engineer at the academy who took part in Tiangong II’s development, said the lab has about 15 square meters for astronauts to live and work, including a separate sleep section and waste storage area.

    He said engineers installed muffler devices in the spacecraft to ensure its inner sound is kept under 50 decibels. Environmental controls will keep the temperature within the experiment cabin between 22 C and 24 C and the humidity between 45 and 55 percent.

    In addition, Tiangong II has an air detector capable of checking for and dealing with more than 20 hazardous gases and microbes.

    Furthermore, designers placed exercise equipment in the space lab such as a treadmill, exercise bike and acupuncture point massager to help astronauts keep healthy, according to Liao.

    He said its communications systems also allow astronauts to receive and reply to emails and make calls to family and friends.

  • Astronauts given comfort upgrade on China's new space lab 

    Space lab to cross five-year mark.

    China’s space lab Tiangong-2 may serve for more than five years and co-exist with its first space station, scheduled for completion around 2020, an expert at the space programme said.

    China successfully launched Tiangong-2 on a Long March-2F T2 rocket, blasting off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the northwest Gobi Desert on Thursday.

    With a designed life of two years, Tiangong-2 was originally built as a backup to Tiangong-1, which completed its mission in March, said Zhu Congpeng, chief designer of Tiangong-2.

    “But we expect Tiangong-2 to serve for more than five years given the introduction of an in-orbit propellant technique for the first time,” Zhu said.

    In April 2017, China’s first cargo spaceship Tianzhou-1 will be sent into orbit to dock with the space lab, providing fuel and other supplies.

    “If the fuel-supply experiment goes well, we will become the second after Russia to master the in-orbit propellant technique,” Zhu said.

    While in space, the 8.6-tonne space lab will manoeuvre itself into orbit about 393km above Earth surface.

    “As it is higher than past space missions, the Tiangong-2 will be more cost-effective and have a longer lifespan,” said Zhu. — Xinhua

    Beyond borders

     

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