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I wish to congratulate Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor for being the first Malaysian blast off to the outer space. Nevertheless, I hope he will not be the last because I wish our Prime Minister, Dollah Kaki Tidur will follow suit. Although Jeanne, I believe can confirmed that Dollah has been there many times during his napping at the official functions.

Somehow, few things really disturbed me lately.

First, Dr. Sheikh was actually unveiled in Johnson Space Centre on the 23rd of July 2007, much earlier than our PM made the official announcement to all Malaysian. Second, while in Johnson Space Centre, Dr Sheikh was announced as Spaceflight Participant and not as Astronaut like his fellow comrades who were going to be blast off with him.

On July 23rd, NASA in their official released made this statement “The Expedition 16 crew members pose for a portrait at the Johnson Space Center. From the left (front row) are Russia’s Federal Space Agency cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, flight engineer and Soyuz commander; astronaut Peggy Whitson, commander; and Malaysian spaceflight participant Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor. From the left (back row) are European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Léopold Eyharts, astronaut Garrett Reisman and astronaut Dan Tani, all flight engineers” Below is the photograph.

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Spaceflight Participant is merely a member of space tourism and Wikipedia has this to explain (read).

Wikipedia also has this on the Malaysia Space Programme.

I post 2 questions to “someone in the know”, first, is it true that Dr Sheikh has officially been selected before 23rd July 2007 and second, is it true that he is merely a Space Tourist and not Angkasawan.

This is the replied that I got, “He was the first choice but confirmation only after Russian Medical Board made their assessment. PM only confirm on behalf of Malaysian. Russian recognised (Dr. Sheikh) as cosmonaut. By strict definition, memang out”.

So, I put to you that when our Prime Minister made the announcement early in September, he has lied to all Malaysian.

“Malaysia on Monday unveiled its first astronaut, a 34-year-old doctor who will blast off on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and visit the International Space Station in September 2007.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor was the winner of a nationwide hunt which drew tens of thousands of hopefuls. Army dentist Faiz Khaleed, 26, was chosen as the back-up astronaut, or “angkasawan” as they are known in the Malay language.

“I pray to God that he will ensure the success of your mission and raise the profile of Malaysia in the international arena,” Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said at a ceremony to announce the winning candidates (more)”.

Prime Minister announced that Dr. Sheikh as first Malaysian Astronaut but he is not qualified to be consider as one. He is qualified as Cosmonaut and that is only after huge sum of money being agreed to the Russian.

So, Dr. Sheikh as a space tourist should then be allowed to play congkat in space after all. He should be allowed to eat rendang and ketupat. He should be allowed to do what tourist did.

No wonder, Dr. Mazlan from Pusat Sains Negara has all sorts of weird and not so serious things that she wanted our Angkasawan to perform in the outer space. After all, we only spent few billion Ringgit of taxpayer money to purchase the Russian made aircraft so we can send someone to tour the space.

Bravo, that is truly Malaysia Boleh!