Friday, October 19, 2007

Malaysian "astronauts" or "boleh or not" or "can or cannot"

The Malaysian government decision to purchase Russian military equipments in return for sending a Malaysian to the International Space Station have stirred up a lot of controversies and got many poking fun at the so-called "space program", especially when the initial suggestions for tasks for the Malaysian lucky enough to be chosen was to make typical Malaysian things like teh tarik (boiling hot tea cooled by successive pouring of the tea from a pot held high to another pot held lower. Wonder how they would have been able to achieve that in micro-gravity. Anyway, after the fun-poling, the tune changed. The authorities started sending our messages to researchers in universities requesting for proposals for experiments to be done in space. I received one of those messages.

Anyway, there had been some confusion over what to call our Malaysian in space. Nasa referred to him as a "spaceflight participant", Russia referred to him as a cosmonaut. Now Mr. Brown has got into the act with the top 10 names for our Malaysian in space. The one I like most was number 2 - "boleh-or-not" (Dr. Mahathir tried to encourage Malaysians to aim high with the slogan "Malaysia boleh".

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