First of all, I feel sorry for Dr Sheikh Muzaffar. Who knows how proud he is of becoming the first malaysian angkasawan? If I were in his space boots, I would be very happy and proud. The stories I’d be able to tell my friends and family over a teh tarik, and to think that my posterity would always have in their minds that their ol’ man was an angkasawan would be something to cherish. He is indeed extremely priviledged, and I’m sure he earned his place, beating many others, to get that place seat on the Soyuz. Speaking on how the seat was made available, here’s what I learnt today:
The Malaysian Angkasawan programme is an offset from the RM3.42bil deal with the Russians for the purchase of 18 Sukhoi Su-30 MKM fighter jets for the Royal Malaysian Air Force.
Russia agreed to offer one seat for a Malaysian to join their crew in an expedition to the International Space Station, and bear the training cost of the country’s first batch of Angkasawan. – The Star, 22 October 2007
Dr. Sheikh is back on earth. He may, in his free time, Google the terms angkasawan and malaysian astronaut and other related terms to see what the perception of many are. I doubt he’ll be very encouraged by what he sees. So many blogs out there, are criticising the program, its usefulness, saying it’s a ‘show off’, a ‘farce’, and all the rest. Worse still, HE is being criticised! Why is Dr. Sheikh being criticised? Because he trained endlessly, and had to spend months away from family, and had to endure tremendous physical and emotional challenges, to mug and study tons of reading material, to becoming the first Malaysian astronaut? He doesn’t deserve to be criticized. He doesn’t deserve to be called a lab rat. The Malaysian Space Program may be questionable, but not him. Give him a break.
Yes, he may have not had a very mission critical role to play up there. But what did you expect for a country that has very little experience in space travel?
Did you expect him to pilot be the technical engineer of the spacecraft?
Did you expect him to be the pyro coordinator?
Did you expect him to be the propulsion engineer?
Did you expect him to be the re-entry engineer?
A space mission is not a bicycle ride. There are no room for mistakes. No room for novices to handle mission critical tasks. In all reasonableness, I’m glad Dr. Sheikh didn’t do anything he wasn’t experienced enough to do. I would prefer the best and most experienced people doing what they do best.
I did chuckle when I read what he planned to do in space, but hey, just take it with a pinch of salt. No one’s done that before! Don’t we all try to do something different sometimes?
Dr. Sheikh, I’m happy for you, and your achievements. I’m sure you’re dying to share the knowledge you’ve learnt.
I just feel that when Dr. Sheikh is targeted personally for criticism, its just a ‘sour grape’ feeling, that someone else got it, and you didn’t. People are unhappy with the government for the program, but poor Dr. Sheikh will be the man to eat the sour grapes.
Secondly, reading all the criticism and feeling the negativity about the whole issue, its just so nostalgic. We Malaysians have always something negative to say. We always have something to complain. Is this the first time we’re complaining about something?
Remember Penang Bridge? Originally planned to be 3 laned, but due to opposition, brought down to two. Now we have to add the third lane.
Remember Proton? Tin can! Unreliable! Yet it’s the highest selling brand in the country.
Remember KLIA? What a waste of money! Yet we bask in pride, when people praise our airport.
Remember Twin Towers and KLCC? Show off! Yet a visit there on any given day shows how many people frequent the place.
Remember Putrajaya? Expensive! Yet most of the housing development projects there sell very well!
And now the space program.
I’m not saying the costs involved in the above are justified. I’m a tax payer myself and truly feel that the funds could be channelled to more immediate needs, there are schools to be built, low cost housing to be built, infrastucture to be improved, oh yes, thelistgoeson.
Beloved Malaysia, we’re not doing anything different from what other countries with space programs are doing.
The Americans are still bickering about their space program:
Just take a look on the positive side. At least the government didn’t start its own space program and build its own space shuttle and spend billions of our taxpayer money right? At least, not yet.