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BarisaRM568.05 million to send a Malaysian astronaut into space. How much more for sustained interest in space & science?

Media Statement
by Tan Seng Giaw  

(Kuala Lumpur, Monday): On 11 October, 2007, the Government has spent at least RM 568 million to send Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor into space. That Muszaphar is trained to be an astronaut and that he carries out certain types of research in the International Space Station (ISS) mean something to Malaysians. The media go to town with the story.

Any Malaysian who achieves something should stimulate others to do well, to venture into things and to continue to commit to scientific advancement. We should go for continuous efforts and practical implementations consistent with the conditions in the country. One of the formulae for success is meritocracy.

Muszaphar rode the Russian Soyuz TMA from Baikonur, Kazakstan, together with American Astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko on a 12-day mission to the ISS. Many nations such as Russia, U.S.A., France, Britain, China, Canada and Japan contribute to ISS.

The first man in space was the Russian Yuri Gagarin who soared to space from Baikonur in 1961. Forty six years later, a Malaysian went up to space from the same site.

Malaysia buys 18 Russian fighters, Sukhoi, and sending Malaysian to space is an offset from the purchase. The offset is said to cost at least USD 185.9 million. The Science Fund contributes RM 3 million, the Astronaut Programme amounts to RM 12 million and the insurance for Muszaphar RM 2 million, totaling RM 568 million. The 2008 national budget is estimated at RM 176.9 billion.

We must consider the actual conditions in the country. How much do we need for long-term research on space? Is it practical for the country to develop a launching site like Baikonur? Is it feasible for us to develop rockets capable of carrying spaceships? Can we contribute to ISS? Can we develop the various things that are needed in rockets and spaceships such as special chips? What is the niche in which we are interested?

After the media blitzkrieg on the Malaysian astronaut, we look forward to the Government programmes on science including space technology. We want to know the long-term cost and the practical implementations.



*Tan Seng Giaw, DAP Deputy Chairman & MP for Kepong.

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