Monday, October 22, 2007

End of Malaysia's Space Odyssey?

Malaysiakini is my favourite news source though I must say that at times I have been a bit cheesed off with it.

One of its annoying idiosyncrasies has been the constant use of the word ‘helm’, as in ‘he helms the department’.

Malaysiakini's persistent employment of this word has been driving me up the wall. Why not use instead ‘head’, ‘lead’, ‘direct’, ‘manage’, ‘overseer’, ‘control’, etc?

Or, is there someone in Malaysiakini with a nautical bent? OK then, by all means, do use ‘skipper’, ‘captain’, ‘command’, ‘steer’, ‘pilot’ etc.

But for heaven’s sake, please give ‘helm’ a bloody rest.

Similarly, I am getting a bit irritated by Malaysiakini’s repetitive reference to Sheik Muszaphar’s profession as 'doctor and part time model'. For example, in its news today
M'sians walking tall after space odyssey it reported that “Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, a 35-year-old doctor and part-time model, returned to Earth on Sunday at 1043 GMT after 11 days in space.”

Exactly one week ago, I had blogged in
The betrayal of Sheik Muszaphar Shukor! the following (extract):

Sheik Muszaphar Shukor – Angkasawan Malaysian yang Pertama, cosmonaut, astronaut, hero, lang chai, pride of Malaysia and Malays – but also referred to scornfully as space participant, first class space passenger, US30 million dollar man, RM100 million Bolehnaut, astronothing, cosmonaught, anak kepada seorang Datuk (memang dipilih lah), and various nasty terms and derogatory descriptions, which you may find at Malaysia-Today blog.

I am not sure whether Malaysiakini has been sniping at him too, because whenever it published a news item (except for the most recent one about AAB’s disappointment) it would describe Sheik Muszaphar as “a doctor and part-time model”

Why has it necessary to do that – why not just a doctor, considering that the ‘part time modeling’ has been what it is, just a ‘part time’ activity? Once is OK, but when it’s reported with a high degree of regularity, kaytee begins to wonder whether there has been an unseen sneer accompanying that unusually long and totally unnecessary description of Muszaphar’s job?

He's safely back, and I congratulate him for his adventure. Anyway, I see some moderation creeping into our national state of space euphoria – by the way, one pilot told me that 'hypoxia' (lack of oxygen, as experienced in the higher altitudes) leads to a state of ‘euphoria’, which the dictionary kindly informs us is “a feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being sometimes exaggerated in pathological states as mania.” Ahem!

Anyway, back to that glimpse of ‘some moderation creeping in our national space euphoria’ that I mentioned. Malaysiakini reported:

Malaysian leaders see the space flight as a milestone for the country which is marking a half-century of independence from British colonial rule, and are mulling sending another citizen into space.

Najib said the government has until the end of 2009 to decide if it wants to accept an offer from the Russian Space Agency for another Malaysian to journey to the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2010 or early 2011.

Muszaphar's trip was part of a billion-dollar purchase of 18 Sukhoi 30-MKM fighter jets from Russia but Najib said a second space mission will involve direct financing.

"Since the next expedition would involve public funds, the government would have to convince the public of the need of the mission," Najib said.

I think it’s the end of the road for the standby cosmonaut, Faiz Rasheed. Najib has virtually killed off the continuation of the program, well ..... at least until the government feels safe to do so again, or indeed there is a genuine need for a Malaysian space program.

A space program should only exist to serve national interest. The USA and the Soviet Union had space programs during the 1960’s as part of their Cold War jostling. Today the Yanks do it because they want to exploit space for military use, to gain a dominating combat medium. Many advanced nations know that they have to do so, if they want a piece of real estate up there (Moon, asteroids, Mars, etc), just like the real estate in Antarctica - in those immortal spine-chilling words of Star Trek: "Space - these are the final frontiers for ... fossil fuel."

I don’t think showing off our teh tarik, roti canai or our Malaysian cultural activity of 'open house' in zero gravity would be sufficient justification for investing hundreds of millions of ringgit.

I am pleased that good olde gravity has brought back into play some earthly commonsense, that is, if I had read Najib’s comments correctly.


  1. I think we should send Dr Faiz to space. He already trained and cost should be lower than Dr Muszaphar. We must not let detractors hold us back. At least Russian can train him to be a backup cosmonaut to others. With Petronas flooded with cash from rising oil price, I see no reason why Malaysia cannot afford it for it.


  2. To send Faiz as the 2nd space participant again at taxpayers's money not only adds insult to injury, but mocks the people's intelligence as well!

  3. To send Faiz up would mean training another back up cost-more-nought, for the just-in-case. What do we do with the 3rd angkasawan? Buy another 18 more jets? Never ending story....

  4. anon. of 7:32 PM, October 22, 2007
    What flawed logic are you using?
    Or perhaps you have hypoxia related euphoria?
    Of course you could just be a BN cyber-trooper I suppose!
    How can the cost be less, the Russians do not have cheap sales like Malaysia, so no 'buy one, free one'
    Save our money, ground En. Faiz the spare waste of space tourist, Malaysia, Petronas especially, needs to save lots money for the rainy day when the oil reserves run dry in 10 or so years time.
    No more space fantasy stories.

  5. Majib should have just bought 36 jets and got 2 free tickets for the joy ride. No need to renegotiate now. So shortsighted. Now we have a 'grounded angkasawan'

  6. This is the direct result of having corrupted donkeys to lead the country. They have all the priorities wrongly placed and some rakyat are buying it wholesale. Never could they think what benefit the country can gain by delving into this useless programme. Its laughable when you see some of them lauding this astro-nought as having done some scientific experiments - what scientific experiments?

  7. Majib should have bought 36,000 jets and then got 2,000 free tickets. Then Msia would have both the largest airforce and cosmonaut force in the whole world. The money can be easily obtained by auctioning off Sabah and if still not enough, Sarawak

  8. KT,
    The "part-time model" bit is not untrue, so you can't really complaint...its the same way the word "Defacto" is always associated with Anwar Ibrahim, both in Malaysiakini and on your blog....:-)

    BTW, on the "model" bit, which I won't go into as its probably defamatory...but plenty of speculation in Malay-language chat rooms...hehehe...

    The Yanks do a lot of good work with their civilian space program, too, its not all military stuff.
    Ever heard of the Hubble Space Telescope, and its future successor ? And the Mars exploration rovers ?

  9. I think all you guys are just sour grapes. You were all forecasting doom and failure, but the Angkasawan project was a shining success. Muszhapar realy achieved fame for our country. How many countries have sent people into space ? Just a handful ! And Malaysia is right up there with them. Accept it. Malaysia really boleh.

  10. kk46, I call Anwar 'defacto leader' because MKINI termed him as such, and MKINI call him thus because he himself titled his position in PKR as, would you believe, 'de facto leader'. So you can't compare that to the reference to Muszaphar as 'part time model'.

    As for the Yank non-military stuff in space, I wrote "Many advanced nations know that they have to do so, if they want a piece of real estate up there (Moon, asteroids, Mars, etc), just like the real estate in Antarctica - in those immortal spine-chilling words of Star Trek: "Space - these are the final frontiers for ... fossil fuel."

    Besides, stuff like Hubble serves to please the US scientific community and the knowledgeable section of the American taxpayers.

  11. Dozens of countries including Afghanistan, Vietnam, Azerbaizan, India etc have sent people into space

    But only three sent up their astronuts using their own space rockets.

  12. man man lai la..... first we pay & go as tourist, then we send astronuts using our own rockets...

  13. Bolehnaut...HEHEHE
    You lot are soo funny