At the end of 2016, no new beginning of 2017… so there must be …


Successful leader: Lee Kuan Yew has made Singapore economically successful as a result of the purely utilitarian benefit of the rule of the law.

THE descent from globalism to nativism is the defining story of 2016, but the analysis of its cause and projection of the world into 2017 by intellectual custodians of the liberal order are flawed and offer no guide on how to break the fall.

The Brexit vote in Britain in June, the election of Donald Trump in November and the threatening reactionary outcome of elections in France and Germany next year all point to the end of a certain system by which the world has operated, even if what exactly would replace it is less than clear. If the great Western nations of the world change direction, then the rest must.

A broader perspective, however, would recognise the troubles and decisions of 2016 and what might come in 2017 had a gestation period that began at least from the Western financial crisis of 2008, too often called and accepted as the global financial crisis.

“What the West continues to grapple with is how to live beyond its means …”

What the West continues to grapple with is how to live beyond its means. There was the criminal excess of the banks leading to the 2008 crisis, of course, but underlying it was the ethic of expectation of a certain standard of living, whether or not one worked for it or was productive enough to deserve it.

If you do not have the means to get what you want you have to borrow to get it, unless of course you stole and pillaged. So Western states and individuals kept on borrowing, or the central banks printed money to keep the economy going, which it always did not as the money kept going out where it could be more productively used.

Not a single Western political leader has had the guts to tell their people they had to accept a lower standard of living, that it was time for a great reset. Build up productivity and capacity again. Meanwhile, if you go to the pub, go only once a month. If you shampoo your hair once a week, do it fortnightly. Taking holidays abroad in countries whose people you come to hate when you get home will have to take a rest. If you work only 35 hours a week, as in France, what do you expect?

Did any of this happen? People may lose jobs as they could not compete, but they get state support and they blame others like the migrant European workers who could work, who took jobs they did not want to do.

Immigration becomes the issue. And when refugees pour in who also bring with them the threat, and execution, of terror, an inflection point is reached. Sociologists now analyse this as a threat to identity, which certainly is used in rousing emotions during political campaigns, but there was at least equally a revolt against the economic and social condition those not doing so well in life were in.

They are now so widely called the under-served. In the case of Brexit, there was no doubt the uprising of the Little Englander, but there was also the let-us-just-bloody-well-get-out-and-see-what-happens attitude.

While some in the shires thought like this, I also know of a few non-white working class Brits who voted to get out just on this basis. When I asked one such person in London, who is a chauffeur to an unbearable boss, why he did such an irresponsible act, he tried to justify it by associating himself with the workers in Sunderland of whom he knows absolutely nothing.

The thing is, who speaks to such people? The academics and intellectuals only talk among themselves in an idiom only they can understand. Even after Trump, when they pronounced there has been a great failure to address the under-served – which the President-elect on the other hand did so well – they are still talking to and being clever with one another.

My friend Francois Heisbourg, chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, beautifully describes Marine Le Pen’s appeal to the French: “Donald Trump makes Marine Le Pen sound reasonable…..Everyone knows she’s not Trump – she knows how to use a noun and a verb and is intellectually coherent about what she wants and doesn’t want.”

What, for God’s sake, are the arguments that can be used effectively with the ordinary Frenchman that they can understand and appreciate in favour of the liberal order? Paul Krugman likens what is happening to America to how the Roman Republic was destroyed by individuals disloyal to it serving only their own selfish cause. Pray, how many among the Americans who voted for Trump know, or care, anything about the history of Rome?

The Economist, that great citadel of the liberal order, makes a clarion call for its defence and for liberals not to lose heart. How and what to do? Certainly not by talking to one another. Or by communicating in a language and idiom a lower order would not understand.

With perfect Eurocentrism an English commentator fears the Syrian conflict may turn out to be like the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Has he not heard of the Palestinian struggle which has spawned much of the bloodshed in the Middle East and beyond?

There are three gaping holes in the defence of the “global” liberal order. First there is a blind spot about having to have a lower standard of living unless you earn a higher one. Second, an inability among liberal intellectuals to communicate except among themselves. Third, a reflection on the threat through western eyes only.

The second weakness is endemic. It is a truly global malady.

Intellectuals, whether in the West or Malaysia or anywhere else, should not disdain populism, which is the bad word now in all the commentary on the threat to the global liberal order. They will not stoop so low – as Trump did – to gain support. Well, stoop less low or in a different way. Dirty your hands. Reach out.

We don’t communicate simply, when there are simple terms that convey meaning. We think we are so high and mighty.

Actually if you think about it – and this is especially for the blinkered Western intellectuals – the exemplar of populism, and darned effective with it, is Umno. You may wince at the kris-wielding antics and other forms of political theatre, and you may not agree with some or most of the policies propounded, but you have to admit they rabble rouse their way to considerable support.

Yucks… but that was the yucks that caused Donald Trump to win. You have to get popular support. You do not do so talking to one another from university pulpits, in the parlours of Georgetown in Washington DC, in Hampstead or indeed at the Royal Selangor Golf Club.

“The academics and intellectuals only talk among themselves.”

Now, why do Western intellectuals particularly not talk about having to accept a lower standard of living? Well, they too will have to do so. The levels of income of the journalists and professors and consultants actually are very high, and they do a lot of talking outside their paid job for which they are paid more. Can they look the lowly worker in the eye and say you have to be paid less?

There has been an historic transfer of savings from countries with a lower standard of living to those higher so they stay there. As these poorer countries need and want rich country currency – particularly the dollar – for their economic life in their global liberal order, the rich not only get the savings from the poor to sustain their economic life in that global liberal order. They also are able to print money for the extras they might want.

Just imagine if the poor countries started their own so-called quantitative easing (creating more money) as America and the European Union have done. Their currencies would have collapsed and the countries would have been bankrupted. Those at the top of the heap in the West enjoying this privilege of the global liberal order are not likely to want to pull the plug on this cushy arrangement.

“….the rule of law…is the strongest defence and guarantee of individual rights there has ever been in human history.”

They would be risking their own interest if they began to start talking to underserved workers in their domestic economy about income levels that can be sustained by actual production – which is what developing countries have to live by, global liberal order or not.

Now the most important main benefit poorer countries obtain from that order is being threatened – their ability and success in producing goods and services which can reach any consumer in open global competition.

Donald Trump is breaking the rules for America because the US cannot otherwise compete. So he wants to protect the American market against better able, more efficient and cheaper producers – the developing countries.

While enjoyment – and denial – of these goods and services is one thing, and while undoubtedly there will in the immediate-term be a rebound of the US economy, who in the medium- and long-term is going to hold Western debt so that the high standard of living in rich countries can continue? They do not save to finance the economy. They do not efficiently produce many of the goods and services they enjoy. They need also to take advantage, through trade and investment, of the real growth in developing regions such as in East and South-East Asia.

Therefore on this score alone – the need for an open and competitive global trading system – there is true convergence of interest in the world. The poorer countries will have to take it, warts and all. And the rich Western nations, with their proponents of the global liberal order, will certainly want to keep it all.

The skewered balance in the global liberal order is sustained by an intellectual convention which is Eurocentric but commanding across the globe. Leaders in politics and thought in non-Western countries only have themselves to blame for this.

“…look forward to 2017 without the colonial mentality which makes us slaves to Western thought.”

They accept almost carte blanche what Western liberals submit. Don’t get me wrong. There are so many good things about western liberals and the liberal order.

I don’t think there has ever been in history such a constituency of liberals as there are in the West who would fight for the rights of the victimized and the downtrodden, like refugees, non-whites and Muslims, as there is in the western world today. Even as extreme and violent Muslims blow them up. The adherence to the value of love against hate, and of tolerance against incitement, is of the highest human order.

The other thing developing countries could imbibe from the Western liberal order is the rule of law. This is the strongest defence and guarantee of individual rights there has ever been in human history.

When the laws are applied and enforced without fear or favour, there is faith in the social contract that underlies the polity. This is the main failing of most developing countries, which they would do well to learn from the West, beyond the purely utilitarian benefit of the rule of law that drove Lee Kuan Yew to make Singapore economically successful.

But, despite all this truly profound contribution of liberals and the liberal order of the West, it does not mean we must accept everything from them hook, line and sinker, especially every bit of the analysis of what has gone or is going wrong with the world.

Or the selling of expertise on how to get things right. Their record on that score is poor. We have too many such offerings, in Malaysia for instance, of how to develop our financial system and to train our financial practitioners. We must not be stupid to give money for old rope.

As we go into the new year, we should not be overwhelmed by analyses of what happened in 2016 and why. We must have a clarity and sense of perspective of the causes leading to it. And we must look forward to 2017 without the colonial mentality which makes us slaves to Western thought.

By Munir Majid

Tan Sri Munir Majid, chairman of Bank Muamalat and visiting senior fellow at LSE Ideas (Centre for International Affairs, Diplomacy and Strategy), is also chairman of CIMB Asean Research Institute.

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US key interest rate unchanged as global economy worries


U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen attends a press conference in Washington D.C., the United States, Sept. 17, 2015. The Federal Reserve announced on Thursday that the federal funds rate will stay unchanged considering the weak global economy and low inflation. (Xinhua/Yin Bogu)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) — The U.S. Federal Reserve on Thursday kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged, saying the rising uncertainty abroad and low inflation were the key reasons behind the decision.

After concluding a two-day monetary policy meeting, the Fed said in a statement that the economic activity is expanding at moderate rate with labor market approaching maximum employment but inflation staying muted.

However, in light of the heightened uncertainties abroad and a slightly softer expected path for inflation, the Fed judged it appropriate to wait for more evidence, including some further improvement in the labor market to bolster its confidence that inflation will rise to 2 percent in the medium term, Fed chairwoman Janet Yellen said at the press conference on Thursday.

In regard to foreign developments, the central bank is paying more attention to the developments in China and emerging economies, according to Yellen.

China’s economy is growing at a slower pace as it rebalances its economy, which has no surprise, said Yellen, but adding that developments in financial markets in August, in part, reflected concerns that there was down-side risk to Chinese economic performance.

In addition, the substantial downward pressures on oil prices and commodity markets have significant negative impact on resources-exporting emerging markets and advanced economies. Important emerging markets have seen significant outflows of capital, pressures on their exchange rates and concerns about their future performance.

Besides the rising uncertainty in emerging markets, the low inflation is one of the reasons holding the Fed back in raising interest rates.

The core personal consumption expenditure (PCE) price index, an inflation gauge preferred by the Fed, only went up 1.2 percent year on year in July, far below the central bank’s 2 percent. The index has been below the Fed’s target for over three years.

The recent drop in oil prices and the further appreciation of U.S. dollar have put some downward pressure in the near-term on inflation, which means that it will take a bit more time for these transitory effects to fully dissipate, said Yellen.

According to the Fed officials economic projections released on Thursday, they expected the core PCE price index won’t meet the Fed’s target until 2018, while the unemployment rate will drop to 4.8 percent, below 4.9 percent, the level the Fed considered as full employment.

Yellen said that as the labor market heals, there will be further upward pressure on inflation. But She said the process is slow and is characterized by lags, and that is why it takes a few years as the inflation to get back to 2 percent, while the unemployment rate falls and even overshoots its longer-run normal level.

The Fed still leaves door open to a rate hike sometime this year. Most Fed officials still expect a first rate increase this year, Yellen said, noting that 13 out of the 17 Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents are looking for a move in 2015.

The Federal Open Market Committee, the monetary policy decision body, will hold two policy meetings this year, in October and December. According to Yellen, every meeting has possibility for a rate increase.

Yellen reiterated that market should pay less attention to the timing of the first interest rate increase and more attention to the expected path of rates.

“The stance of monetary policy will likely remain highly accommodative for quite some time after the initial increase in the federal funds rate,” said Yellen.

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China once again boasts world’s fastest supercomputer


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The Tianhe-2, a supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, was named the world’s top supercomputer for the fourth consecutive time by the TOP500 project. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Tianhe-2, a supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, was named the world’s top supercomputer for the fourth consecutive time by the TOP500 project.

The Tianhe-2 relegated the US-developed Titan to second spot with a performance of 33.86 petaflop (quadrillions of calculations per second) in a standardized test designed to measure computer performance.

IBM’s Sequoia rounded out the top 3 in the TOP500 list.

The TOP500 project, started in 1993, issues a list twice a year that ranks supercomputers based on their performance.

There was little change in the top 10 in the latest list and the only new entry was at number 10 – the Cray CS-Storm, developed by Cray Inc, which also developed the Titan.

The United States was home to six of the top 10 supercomputers, while China, Japan, Switzerland and Germany had one entrant each.

The United States remained the top country in terms of overall systems with 231, down from 233 in June and falling near its historical low.

The number of Chinese systems on the list also dropped to 61 from 76 in June, while Japan increased its number of systems from 30 to 32.

– China Daily/ Asia News Nework

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Malaysia’s healthcare system is one of the best in the world


Malaysia's health care

Country is third best and practioners ‘equal to or better than most Western countries

PETALING JAYA: The country’s achievement at being rated third best in the world for healthcare services is something to be proud of, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.He also gave credit to the boom in the country’s medical tourism sector through strategic investments on good medical facilities and competitive rates compared to other parts of the world.

“Medical tourism has benefited the Government in terms of foreign direct investments and also spin-off effects in the hotel and shopping sectors,” he said yesterday.

The Star Online reported yesterday that a study by the American publication International Living rated Malaysia’s healthcare system as the third best out of 24 countries in its 2014 Global Retirement Index, beating Spain, Italy, Ireland and New Zealand, among other countries.

The index, which was recently released by the Baltimore-based magazine, praised Malaysia’s healthcare, which scored 95 out of a possible 100 points, as the medical expertise of Malaysian healthcare practitioners is “equal to or better than what it is in most Western countries”, according to InternationalLiving.com’s Asia correspondent Keith Hockton.

The top two countries, France and Uruguay, scored 97 and 96 points, respectively.

On the methodology of the index’s ratings, the magazine said both the cost and quality of healthcare were evaluated.

Another report in International Medical Travel Journal News reported that medical tourism receipts in Malaysia from foreign patients totalled RM509.77mil in 2011 involving 578,403 patients.

Dr Subramaniam added that Malaysia remained competitive with players like Singapore and Thailand and the focus was to consolidate the country’s position.

He said the key towards improving the overall healthcare sector would be to focus on the preventive and primary healthcare divisions.

Malaysia Medical Association (MMA) president Datuk Dr N.K.S Tharmaseelan also acknowledged the findings, saying that the country has one of the best healthcare systems in the world.

“The Health Ministry has become a massive seamless service provider in healthcare that has produced magnificent results over the years. Our statistics prove it,” he said, adding that this was despite general practitioners being the lowest paid in the world with their fees being regulated.

He added that impressive figures such as life expectancy for women reaching 80 years and about 72 years for men were reflective of the excellent healthcare provided by the ministry and the private sector.

By G. Surach The Star/Asia News Network

Old and abandoned by children like trash !


Old discardedThe forgotten: Foong with an elderly inmate of Rumah Kasih in Taman Mutiara Barat.

PETALING JAYA: Each week, at least 10 elderly Malaysians end up in old folks homes and that is just the official average, based on centres registered under the Welfare Department.

According to department director-general Datuk Norani Hashim, an average of 536 elderly persons were placed in registered centres each year between 2009 and 2012.

“The actual number could be much higher as some privately run homes are not registered with the department,” she said.

She said between 1993 and last year, a total of 4,968 senior citizens were placed in 211 centres nationwide.

“Perak has the most number with 1,339 in 56 centres, followed by Selangor with 860 in 45 centres but only nine of the centres are under direct supervision of the department,” she added.

In Kuala Lumpur, Foong Peng Lam, the coordinator of Rumah Kasih, which takes in old folks and patients found abandoned in government hospitals, said at least one person was admitted each week.

He said most of the patients were abandoned because their families claimed they could not afford to take care of them.

“Their family members do not provide any form of financial assistance and do not come over to visit,” he said.

The home has taken in over 600 abandoned individuals since its inception in 2000.

“Weak elderly people who had collapsed by the roadside were also brought in by strangers.

“There were also those who were brought in by family members who never return to visit or take them home,” he said.

Foong said the number of abandoned patients had been increasing steadily – from seven in 2000, to the 60 at present.

Apart from Hospital Kuala Lumpur, the home has been taking in patients from Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Hospital Selayang, Tung Shin Hospital, Hospital Seremban, Hospital Sungai Buloh, University Malaya Medical Centre, Hospital Ampang and Hospital Kajang.

He said the hospitals would first try to contact the families, who would usually promise to take the patient home, but never turn up.

“This can go on for up to two months before they bring a patient in.

“Even when we manage to contact the families they usually refuse to take any responsibility,” he added.

Figures from the National Population and Family Development Board, an agency under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, show that about 675,000 elderly parents did not receive financial support from their children in 2004 when the Fourth Malaysian Population and Family Survey was conducted.

 Abandoned by loved ones after becoming ‘worthless’ 

KUALA LUMPUR: S.K. Cheng, 65, spent three months at Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL), waiting for his family to take him home.

The diabetic collapsed while walking by the roadside in September last year.

He woke up in the hospital and was told that his left leg would have to be amputated below the knee.

“I did not take care of my children when they were younger. That is why they do not want me now. I could not afford to take care of them well because I did not have enough money,” he lamented at the Rumah Kasih in Cheras, his current home.

Cheng said he used to work in a coffee shop and lived with his wife and three children.

He said his wife passed away 10 years ago and his son and daughters soon moved on with their lives elsewhere.

They came to visit him at the hospital once, but that was the last time he saw them.

Another inmate, also surnamed Cheng, said she was also left at HKL for nearly three months before she was sent to the home.

The woman, in her 70’s, was bedridden after suffering a stroke.

Her son, in his 40s, did not want to take her home because he could not afford the medical bills.

“She used to work odd jobs and was living with her son before she became ill.

“Her son just dumped her, expecting the hospital to care for his mother,” said a caretaker at the home.

While most Rumah Kasih patients are elderly there is also a 36-year old woman known only as Chan.

She spent six weeks in Hospital Selayang without anyone in her family visiting her.

“I used to be happy. I was working as a cashier and was married with three young children.

“When I suffered a stroke and became paralysed, my husband left me at the hospital and left my kids with my father,” she said.

“He said he could not take me. Now that I cannot work anymore I am worthless and they do not want me.”

Contributed by  P Aruna, Farik Zolkepli, Zora Chan, and Vanes Devindran The Star/ANN

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Go see your parents… or else!

Go see your parents… or else!


Mum_Angry-asian-woman Malaysians are still divided on the need of a filial piety law, but many countries in the world are already enforcing it.

IF you are disrespectful to your elders, you will be tortured and killed – that was the law during the Han Dynasty in ancient China. Although the death sentence is no longer mandatory for such behaviour in modern China, it is still a crime under its newly revised law Protection of the Rights and Interests of the Elderly.

Enforced in July last year, the Act lists nine new clauses that stipulate the duties of children – finacially and emotionally – towards their elderly parents. A main clause requires family members living apart from the elderly to “frequently visit or send greetings to the elderly persons.”

And if that is difficult for those living far away, a provision was included requiring employers to allow their employees time off to visit their elderly parents. However, no punishments were stipulated for those who neglect their parents.

The law allows senior citizens to sue their children and get a court order for financial aid, care and visits.

It was introduced due to the growing number of cases of the aged being abandoned in China in the last few decades, despite the deeply ingrained filial piety belief in its culture. In 2011, it was reported that nearly half of the 185 million people aged 60 and above live apart from their children.

An ageing population was also the impetus behind India’s 2007 filial piety law which states that adult children have an obligation of fulfilling all their parent’s needs including housing, food, and medical care. Failure to do so is punishable by hefty fines, and jail.

Closer to home, Singapore has enforced a Maintenance of Parents Act since 1999. The law also allows parents to sue their grown children for an allowance and care; or face six months in jail.

What many will find surprising is that filial piety laws are also practised in the United States, or rather in 30 American states. What is more surprising is that they are based on a law dating back to 1601, the Elizabethan Poor Relief Act, which stipulated that “the father and grandfather, and the mother and grandmother, and the children of ‘every poor, old, blind, lame and impotent person’ being of a sufficient ability, shall, at their own charges, relieve and maintain every such poor Person.”

The American filial piety laws differ from state to state but each generally describes the responsibility of children to provide financial support to their parents.

Many of the laws enable nursing homes to sue the adult children for their parents’ unpaid medical bills. A dozen states stipulate it a crime punishable by jail. South Dakota allows children who have been sued to get a court order for their siblings to pitch in.

Six states make grandchildren accountable.

As many have found out, living in another state does not protect them against a lawsuit – in 2007, Elnora Thomas from Florida was reportedly sued by her mother’s nursing home in Pennsylvania for unpaid bills. When she was unable to cough up the money, she was told they would put a lien on her house.

In France, the filial piety law allows senior citizens to get cash and care from their children-in-law too. Other Western countries that mandate financial support from adult children to their aged parents are Canada, Ukraine and Russia.

Can you legislate filial loyalty and love?

ONE of the cases that pushed the government of China to mandate filial piety was in Jiangsu province where a local TV station reported that a farmer had kept his 100-year-old mother in a pigsty with a 200kg sow.

Last December, 94-year-old Zhang Zefang won her suit against her four children for financial support and care. They were ordered to split her medical bills and take turns to look after her. Due to their own financial problems, the siblings asked the youngest brother to take her in. He put her up in his garage – which was in a condition arguably worse than a pigsty.

Whose responsibility is it to look after the aged?

A CRITICISM of the filial piety law is that it is an attempt by the government to pass the buck of elderly care to the people with the growing size of the ageing population and escalating costs of healthcare, property and general living.

Another concern is for those who were abused by their parents when they were younger – should they be legally bound to care for the abusive parents?

Recently, the father of K-pop idol group Super Junior leader Leeteuk hanged himself after killing his own parents.

He reportedly suffered from depression due to the overwhelming financial and emotional burden of caring for his elderly parents who had dementia.

The high publicity case has sent the republic into a national debate on the public support system available for carers and relatives of the elderly suffering from serious illnesses, especially Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

In New York last week, a group of 70-something Korean-Americans were evicted from a McDonald’s restaurant for overstaying – they reportedly hogged the tables at the eatery from 5am until dark every day, affecting its business. The senior citizens are not homeless; they just have no other place to hang out together!

Symbols of filial piety

In Japan, filial piety is embodied in various statues called kohyo no zou (filial piety statues) around its public buildings and temples. One of the most famous statues is that of Nippon Foundation founder Ryoichi Sasakawa carrying his elderly mother up the stairs of a temple.

In China last year, Guangzhou Daily highlighted the filial heroics of a 26-year-old man who pushed his disabled mother for 93 days in a wheelchair for a holiday at a popular tourist site in Yunnan Province.

Filial tradition

FILIAL piety is a key virtue in cultures rooted in Confucianism such as that of China and South Korea. It is defined as respect for one’s parents and ancestors. However, the concept is well-ingrained in many other cultures too.

Known as seva in the Indian culture, filial piety is demonstrated at various traditional ceremonies including weddings where the young would serve milk to the elders and wash their feet.

In the Malay culture, the tale of Si Tanggang is used to caution the young on the consequences of filial impiety.

Si Tanggang is a poor young boy who goes off to sea in search of his fortunes. He promises to return for his mother when he makes something of himself. However, when he gets rich, he forgets her. When he returns after many years, she rushes to the shore with his favourite dish, but Si Tanggang is so ashamed of his poor mother that he refuses to acknowledge her. Worse, he orders his men to throw her off his ship. Heartbroken, Si Tanggang’s mother prays for God to turn him into stone.

For the Muslims, filial piety is asserted in various Quran verses and Hadith. A common reminder is “Heaven is at the bottom of your mother’s feet.”

Similarly, in the Jewish and Christian traditions, filial piety is asserted in various instances of their holy texts, such as the Fifth Commandment which says “Honor your father and your mother”.

Contributed by Hariati Azizan The Star/Asia News Network

Tianhe-2, Chinese supercomputer named as world’s fastest


BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese university has built the world’s fastest supercomputer, almost doubling the speed of the U.S. machine that previously claimed the top spot and underlining China’s rise as a science and technology powerhouse.

china_flag

The Tianhe-2 has a peak performance speed of 54.9 quadrillion operations per second.

Video: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/18/tianhe-2_n_3458981.html

The semiannual TOP500 listing of the world’s fastest supercomputers released Monday says the Tianhe-2 developed by the National University of Defense Technology in central China’s Changsha city is capable of sustained computing of 33.86 petaflops per second. That’s the equivalent of 33,860 trillion calculations per second.

The Tianhe-2, which means Milky Way-2, knocks the U.S. Energy Department’s Titan machine off the No. 1 spot. It achieved 17.59 petaflops per second.

Supercomputers are used for complex work such as modeling weather systems, simulating nuclear explosions and designing jetliners.

It’s the second time a Chinese computer has been named the world’s fastest. In November 2010, the Tianhe-2′s predecessor, Tianhe-1A, had that honor before Japan’s K computer overtook it a few months later on the TOP500 list, a ranking curated by three computer scientists at universities in the U.S. and Germany.

The Tianhe-2 shows how China is leveraging rapid economic growth and sharp increases in research spending to join the United States, Europe and Japan in the global technology elite.

“Most of the features of the system were developed in China, and they are only using Intel for the main compute part,” TOP500 editor Jack Dongarra, who toured the Tianhe-2 facility in May, said in a news release. “That is, the interconnect, operating system, front-end processors and software are mainly Chinese.”

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