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Sunday, 14 October 2007

Giant Step for Malaysia

IT'S the wee hours of morning on the second day of Aidilfitri today. The night is so unusually quiet (probably because of the rain all day yesterday) that I couldn't resist taking advantage of the stillness and serenity of the morning to stop and pen down some of my personal thoughts.
Since most of my friends and bloggers have been talking about our latest Malaysian hero Dr Sheik Muzzaphar Shukor, I thought I'd type some of my feelings about this whole angkasawan (astronaut) thingy that seems to have taken our country by storm recently.
Last Wednesday, October 10, saw me rushing home from an afternoon appointment too, so that I can catch the live transmission of the Soyuz spaceship historic first launch of a Malaysian into space.

I have to confess that I watched the event only because a Malaysian was going to be in it.
Come to think about it, I wouldn't have bothered if it was merely a Russian or an American being catapulted off into space.

Well, I might have. However, certainly not rushing through traffic earlier to definitely make it a date with my TV.

The second reason (nope, come-to-think-about-it-now, the first, actually) is because it is part of my job helming my second column in The Star on Sundays called Air Raves.

I was curious to see how our radio stations were going to handle a scientific event such as this for the first time. Also the fact that it is so close to our hearts because a Malaysian was involved.

Well, the radio thingy turned out to be a huge letdown for those of you who can't wait for Sunday next week to find out in my column.
But that is as far as I will go. I can't say anymore. You will just have to catch a copy of Starmag to find out guys. Sorry!

But I can comment something about how our TV stations covered it.

I thought that Astro's Channel 588 which is carrying the space travel and mission features even now until Dr Sheik touches down on earth on Sunday, October 21 apparently at 11pm Malaysian time.

The strong feedback sound that was heard when our VVIPs spoke to each other from Kazakhstan and the KLCC Centre was bad and unprofessional.
You don't see such things happening in overseas events help by other broadcasters.

So Astro must surely take the brickbats here.

My other point is that it was a pity that the show wasn't interactive with viewers. That would've made it more interesting.

I hope that the VVIPs don't take this too hard but they can be really boring when they are on for too long. It would've been better if Astro had a good anchor to talk to viewers at home and include them in on the act.

Mahadhir Lokman was good but he appeared nervous at times. I don't blame him. He seemed to have a greater task than Dr Sheik for that moment it seemed trying to coordinate things from Kazakhstan and Malaysia.
And not to forget, having the Prime Minister sitting next to you!

And now, and very quickly, back to Dr Sheik.

First of all, did you know that he's 35 years old, an orthopaedic surgeon and a part-time model?

The latter explains his raw good looks. I'm really happy for the good doctor and that Malaysia has found a good role model for space in the country.
I can just picture him walking into classrooms and our kids beaming with joy. Pop stars, yes, world beauties, done that before, but now our very own angkasawan!

However, I must admit that I'm not too sure about the millions of taxpayers money that it cost to put him in space though. And certainly, not too enthusiastic about sending a second wannabe Malaysian cosmonaut in his footsteps.

Many of my disabled chums are not so interested with the exploits of Dr Sheik and the ISS space station. I really don't blame their lack of concern.

I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out why.
Malaysians with disabilities are still left to struggle with basic issues such as employment, education, healthcare and leading a high quality of life.

Most of the time, it isn't our handicaps which cripple us but it's society's lack of providing faclities to enhance our way of living that keeps us down in the doldrums of life.
For many of us, we don't want to be angkasawans. Just to be able to hold simple jobs, be able to go out like others to the local cinema or store, etc, is good enough.

Perhaps one can even call it "righteous jealousy", if you like.

Well, let's at least hope for this. That when Dr Sheik returns, he will be much more dedicated about helping his patients than he ever was.
And in particularly, using his newfound stardom and influence to make things right for many of his orthopaedic patients.

That can include finding finances for the poor who can't afford treatment to advocating for disabled people for their disabled rights.
In the meantime, let's all wish the good doctor all the best as he stays in the Russian space-station for now. Then again, he probably is on his way back now as I write this.
Let's not forget that it took a lot of guts to get out there too.

Well done Dr Sheik. We're proud of you!

aNthoNy thaNasayaN


David said...

A fantastic post. Thank you for sharing.

Anthony S B Thanasayan said...

Thank you David. Appreciate the plug. Kind regards. aNt :)

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