Thursday, October 11, 2007

Space blastoff deepens our social rift

Malaysiakini received some frank comments from a Gerakan veteran, outgoing Pulau Pinang State Executive Council Dr Toh Kin Woon.

Dr Toh said that it was Tough to change BN - hmmm, I wonder why I am not surprised.

Dr Toh said that “Somehow race consciousness has taken such deep roots in the Malaysian political psyche that to uproot it is not an easy task at all.”

"You’re talking about such a mammoth political structure with its own framework and a value system that have been so firmly entrenched. I think it would be a Don Quixote to think you could go in, barge in there and say I want to affect his change and that change.”

Unfortunately that’s true to the extent that there is now an unbridgeable deep division within our community. Disagreements, dislikes and disputes are no longer confined to the political or policy plane but have unfortunately seep down to personal levels and personalities.

Take for example, Malaysia’s first cosmonaut, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor.

Like Lee Lam Thye he has been lambasted for accepting the opportunity to be the first Malaysian to blast off into space.

Why? Yadda yadda yadda ... yes, the ride is seen as a wasteful expedition – I agree that such expenses could be better spent on many needy projects – but why take it out on poor Muszaphar?

Same argument used against Lee Lam Thye – he should have rejected the opportunity. To be frank, if I was given the opportunity to be the cosmonaut,I would have have been there like a Soyuz rocket. Imagine "Baikonour Kontrol, kaytee has a problem. I forgot my tangkai"

Muszaphar suffered from two handicaps:

(1) He is a Melayu (Malay), hence his candidature has been (and still is) immediately a suspect! Whether he was the best candidate is totally irrelevant - he would automatically be seen by many hostile to the BN as someone picked because the colour of his skin or his political affiliation or connections.

(2) He hops on what has been seen as a BN rather than Malaysian effort to introduce space flights, admittedly at a ludicrous fee, into our span of activities - bad boy!

What if the Malaysian cosmonaut that just blasted on board the Soyuz rocket into space for a rendezvous with the ISS was Vanajah Sivasubramaniam? Would the reception be less or even not hostile? Would that have made the flight a more acceptable occasion with more Malaysians rejoicing?

Vanajah was a finalist but unfortunately an unsuccessful one for a seat in only two positions to go into space with the Russians?

To be true, everyone except the most na├»ve would imagine that the first Malaysian would be other than a Malay. Yes, unfortunately for us, we haven’t reached that stage yet when we are all Malaysians, which may explain why Dr Toh Kin Woon has been fairly frustrated.

I gather that when Dr Mahathir was PM, he had quietly (and at times vocally too) lamented the lack of self esteem among the Malays – whether this was an objective assessment or not is left up to you to judge.

Hence he encouraged a program of esteem-building ‘exercises’ with a motivating reward system (meant more for the Malays than other ethnic groups), which might have been seen by many of us to be damn wasteful – eg. rewarding a Malay kid who swam across the English Channel with a Datukship while the Chinese lad was not (Muszaphar will also get one when he returns), dropping a Proton at the North Pole or something silly like that, Mt Everest climb, sail round the world, Malaysian Book of Records, etc etc and of course the space flight - the 'Boleh' (can do) doctrine.

As with all Malaysian projects that might have started with a sincere or even noble motive, very soon the usual parasites latch on to the associated reward system or freebies and start to abuse it.

Without knowing Dr Mahathir’s motive (and how many would bother to anyway), there’s hell of a lot of resentment against Malays being the favoured ones in this scheme.

Take for example the case of the unsuccessful cosmonaut Vanajah Sivasubramaniam – read her interview with Malaysiakini Kabilan in my last year’s post Sad tale of Bolehnaut left behind.

Read it to see why I wasn’t impressed at all with Kabilan, but which may support my suggestion that there’s a lot of resentment in our very divided nation, especially when there is a perception that the wrong candidate had been blasted off into space as the first Malaysian to do so.

I feel sad for Muszaphar, I feel sad for Vanajah Sivasubramaniam, but most of all I feel sad for myself ;-)


  1. Why blast Dr Sheikh?
    Blast ourselves for choosing leaders who come out with harebrained ideas to send an Malaysian angkasawan into space at such a hefty expense. Lets not get involved whether he is an astronaut, a cosmonaut or a space flight participant.
    Do they seriously think that this event will get more of us interested in space and be a big leap for Malaysians?
    Please forget about sending a 2nd Malaysian till we can come out with our own BolehLand space rocket.

  2. >> What if the Malaysian cosmonaut that just blasted on board the Soyuz rocket into space for a rendezvous with the ISS was Vanajah Sivasubramaniam?

    Then some UMNO-ultras will ask "why did they let her go to space?"... like they did with the first two Malaysians on Mt.Everest.

    Sad that people are racializing this...

  3. I feel sad for Sheikh. I feel sad for the Indian girl. They are victims of the spiraling racial divide tearing the country apart. I feel sad for Malaysia. is there any way to address the situation. I am afraid NO.

  4. KT,
    I wished our space-flight participant well and wished him a safe journey. I have nothing against him personally.

    But the whole Project Bolehnaut was dodgy and suspect. Much of the poo dished out at the project was well deserved...waste of money better spent on critical matters here, trade-off for a questionable Russian arms deal, political opportunism, the divisive implied racial objective etc.

    As the participant right at the centre of the stinking project, of course some of the junk is going to adhere to him, even if he is not the target.

  5. The official NASA site considers him a space tourists.He's just an AstroNUT like all the other BN chaps .....puffing on their cigars and clapping wildly ...... one for the Malays right?

  6. Don't feel sorry for Dr Sheikh, he's got it made with this ride. Feel sorry for the marginalized non-Malays who toiled to build this nation and pay taxes and tributes to a rent-collecting political system, because while the politicians blow their horns and spiel unity, all the Malaysians allowed to be associated with this over-accessorized escapade are from only one race. Coincidence? I don't think so.

  7. This guy not to blame?????....beg to differ....If this doctor had half a brain....ethics and self esteem...something probably his teachers didnt teach him....he would have declined this trip....he calls himself a surgeon mannnn....what screwed up medical mindset does he dont need to be Einstein to know that RM90 million could have been well spent on education and healthcare in this country instead of touring space on hard earned tax payers money.....but then...he is from UKM...doubt very much they teach them morals of this nature where duty to the poor is less important then being glamorous...even to an "orthopaedic surgeon"....if this guy was some kind soldier, commando, etc...maybe just ikut arahan.....but a professional who jumped at the chance of an akademia fantasia hero riding on public money just reflects poorly on this model/surgeon/expensive space tourist's character.....sorry, don't see mother theresa in this UKM doctor..

  8. What's RM90 million? That's about CAD25 million, which a successful high profile Howe Street CEO makes in a year, including bonuses, stock option, etc.

    For 2 weeks of fame....not too bad, plus, this is in some ways good advertising of Malaysia and its tourism industry. Not that foreigners are keen on the country's space exploit, but will be somewhat curious as to how this episode came about.

    Would there be that much bitching if the astronaut was a CHINESE??

  9. If the astronaut was a chinaman I think there will be a lot more bitching, even raised kerises. Come off it lah the Malays needed this for their esteem which have been lacking lately. This extravanganza is just the tonic for their sagging Ketuanaan.

  10. Next, use Malaysian $$$ to buy a Nobel Prize for 2008

  11. I couldn't agree with you more, KTemoc. It's a sad day for Bodohland! Our so-called leaders have shit in their heads. The issue in this space saga is the motive behind this project. I can bet my last ringgit here that it has got nothing to do with a major leap for our scientific community. Much as I do not want to insult the good scientists in this land, they remain a minority. So the question would be, do we have a scientific community at all? So what is the motive? Despite the hard work of UMNO's spin doctors, I suspect, it has got everything to do with "Ketuanan Melayu." So that a Malay name will be stated in our history books. Like a Malay name associated with sailing round the world, swimming across the English channel, tracking in the North and South Pole, etc. etc.

    And that is why it is a waste of taxpayers' money. Wasting money to prop up a race with serious inferiority complex!

  12. How many of you all know me?

  13. Propping up a race with serious inferiority complex is quite different from pampering to 'Ketuanan Melayu'. The former is about indoctrinating the people with a sense of self esteem or self worth (giving them a 'you can do it' feeling) so to be fair, the confidence building measure is not too bad and frequently applied to sports teams - the argument lies in the exorbitant, and perceived as disproportionate, cost. But the latter, 'Ketuanan Melayu' is racist.

    I draw the distinction so we can discuss without being clouded by anger or prejudice.

  14. Not at all, I don't feel angry discussing how a certain race with inferiority complex is spending serious taxpayers' money trying to prop up their self esteem.
    But I find it embarassing that they thought they have achieved something big by sending their kind to space when anybody with money can easily do it, I mean what's the big deal? It's not like you are using your own rocket. I'll say most of these politicians do have misplaced maruah.

  15. Come to think of it the race with inferiority complex hasn't achieved very much lately instead they have become a laughing stock of the world with the way they administered the country. Look at the judiciary, police and parliament. Look at the quality of their MPs and the blatant corruption and abuse of power going on.
    They only dare to compare themselves with African countries, not even the tiny red dot down south. Even entering public universities they dare not compete with other races and had to resort to their exclusive matriculation.
    So don't criticise their space trip they needed that for their self esteem.

  16. I think that the space travelling tourist Dr. has managed to end his life as he knew it. His medical career is all but ended as he will be far too occupied being used as a political pawn for UMNO. Sadly Malaysia has lost yet another medical doctor, who has now become a clown in the BN circus. Just wait and see the useless honorific titles he will be awarded when he returns to Bolehland. Malaysia must be the only country on earth where names and titles of inordinate length are regarded by some as prestigious status symbols.
    After all, it is said that, bullshit can baffle brains!
    A grand saniwara of extraterrestrial proportions is proceeding as planned. SNAFU
    (Situation Normal All Fucked Up) as per usual.

  17. Valentina Tereshkowa 9:40 AM, October 12, 2007

    Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet cosmonaut, was the first woman to fly in space, aboard Vostok 6 on 16 June 1963. She orbited the earth 48 times and spent almost three days in space. Dr Sheikh Muszaphar was not even born yet at that time.

  18. Pak Lah was asked when the 2nd astronaut will go to space, and he answered "Wait until we buy the next batch of russian planes". What does it mean ?

  19. It means the price of petrol will go up by another 50sen per litre in order to save on petrol subsidies which, together with the increase in highway tolls and other price hikes, would be enough to purchase the planes

  20. Hahahaha...Pak Lah was being honest for once.

    Project Bolehnaut was a quid-pro-quo for the Russian Sukhois.
    I scratch your back, you scratch mine.

    Everything is normal in Bolehland

  21. To think they spend RM90 mil just to send a man into space and after a few months we will forget about the event.

    What about the needy in our country? The sick and the homeless? forget about races and religion. There are many more people who deserve the money more then getting a man into space (its not the Dr. fault). If it was to counter the payment for those Sukhois, why not help reduce the fee for our medic students in Kursk?

  22. it's all about race.

    if the cosmonaut is chinese or indian, i bet all of you here will silence..

    such a typical. sigh....

  23. Sebagai orang Islam saya malu melihat Malaysia...
    Saya tidak mengira Raja Malaysia yg jg Islam ternyata hanyalah RAJA PENCURI dengan NEGARA PENCURI.
    Negara Malaysia yg menerapkan hukum Islam ternyata hanyalah kedok utk menutupi kehinaan negaramu.
    Musang berbulu domba atau lebih buruk ULAR BERBISA...
    Ya Allah sadarkanlah mahluk laknatmu di Malaysia...

  24. The Iranians just want to produce some nuclear energy and it has already attracted all kinds of threats from the orang putih nations. I think we should be more subtle with our space participation lest we be labeled as a rogue member in the space race and be given all kinds of negative publicity in the western media. Let's spend wisely to foster closer inter-ethnic relationship and do away with the privileged status of certain ethnic group in our society. Let the bright children of all parents, irregardless of bangsa be given the same opportunities to receive the best education from institutions that will recruit the best teachers and trainers without having to consider their racial or religious backgrounds.Then this nation will have a future in every field. Japan took less then 50 years since the Meiji, to become a power. Too bad the Japanese squandered their chance to lead the rest of Asia out of the economic and political inertia. Look at China; It was still an economic dwarf 30 years ago but with hard work and foresight and what's more, her willingness to share her success with the rest of the fellow Third World nations, we can see a future that will transform the political & economic landscape in many parts of the world. We, too can contribute towards the restructuring of the world order that will allow us all to share and enjoy the wealth and resources of the world. But we must first do away with the bangsa kita mentality