A Nation and an Astronaut
After seeing Barrack Obama elected as the next president of United States I immediately took half day off at work not to celebrate his victory but because it was about to rain and it's nice to sleep in a rainy afternoon, plus I still had 13.5 days of holidays left. I still think Hillary Clinton or Ron Paul would be a better president but hey congratulations nonetheless to you Americans. There is a sense of renewed patriotism there and it made me think of our small nation which shares similar things like the same federal government system and striped flag. Patriotism and nationalism is something very rarely heard these days in our political arena. Perhaps due to the problems faced by our nation the Malaysian people are getting rather cynical these days. Just take a look at our blogs, it's either about some random person who is angry at someone or something, another thinking he has the brains and much more smarter than the political leaders or some yuppie trying to write poetry and artsy fartsy emo sensitive writings.
It's kind of sad when I think about it these days, when I grew up under the Mahathir Administration as which of most of you too, I had a sense of excitement, hope and something big to look forward to. These was the days of Malaysia Boleh in which at that time I really believed that we can do anything, Absolutely Anything if we really set our mind to it. Even though the term "Malaysia Boleh (Malaysia Can)" was coined from a cocoa beverage as a marketing tool it somewhat had a magic touch towards a whole generation. It started personally for me when our family bought a spanking brand new Proton Saga the first Malaysian Made Car, the plate number was WBN 5013 after he sold off his Toyota. I can still remember the lecture he gave that one time when we were driving back to Ipoh during hari raya using the new spanking North South PLUS highway, he said that it used to take up to 8 hours for the journey by road during hari raya and now it's just over 2 hours. These were the days of climbing the highest mountains, winning the Thomas Cup and when people still watched Malaysian Football. Now it seems that nothing much is going around, the sense of negativity and pessimism are high whenever it comes to anything. Everyone is a critic it seems and people are more concerned with Manchester United and Chelsea.
I too contributed to this pessimistic behaviour and I too understand that projects and adventure are not the only measure of hope and dreams. Democracy, Judiciary revamp, national identity are just as important if not more than these national sponsored adventures. Critics tend to say that these national adventures or mega projects are merely just a waste of tax payers money. Notedly the barrage of pessimism and critic when it comes to the Malaysia first Astronaut, in which people were debating whether he really is an astronaut or merely a space tourist. I too back then was cynical at the idea but my point of view changed when I heard this story.
It was a few months back when a friend of mine recalled his experience upon attending the annual maal hijrah parade. He remarked that Dr Sheikh Muszaphar was given the Maal Hijrah award that year to which I replied what in the world for, in which he agreed. Which is why he and his friend did not clap when they announced it then but he noticed that the school children (and female fans) cheered wholeheartedly when they heard the announcement at the annual maal hijrah get together. He told me that the kids really looked highly at Dr Sheikh, kids unlike adults do not read political commentaries not have political leanings or such. All that matter to them is the fact that this man did went to space, they saw it and it was awesome. When I think about it, for once there is actually a Malaysian that went into space. It dosen't matter if he hitched hiked or board on a borrowed rocket it's the fact that indeed now one can actually go to space and be an astronaut.
When I was a kid we had to tell the class what our dreams would be and more than once I heard kids back then saying "I would like to be an astronaut". Even back then I was cynical remarking that Malaysia do not have a space programme and the only way for you to be an astronaut was to be either an American of Russian. Now, whenever a kid says "I wan't to be an astronaut" it would no longer be an impossible dream, Dr Sheikh went and I can't see why you cant..
The thing is critics who lambasted these things as a waste or declare that money should be spent on building schools or hospitals are majority from the opposition party. Being in the opposition they well reject almost everything the government are doing. It's not their fault, it's what opposing parties do, it's democracy. I personally think though if they were to become the government they would still do the same thing. Because if we were to really follow these criticisms back then a friend of mine who as a staunch PAS supporter called the LRT project as a wasting taxpayers money and contributing to the wealth of Mahathir's crony, now he rides the LRT almost every day. When we think about it, hosting the commonwealth games is a waste of money, so does the F1 Sepang Circuit, KLIA, Climbing Everest, Bukit Jalil Stadium, national theatre complex and all these money should be spend more on building hospitals and schools.
But then are we really short of schools and hospitals? Are schools cancelled because we wanted to host the commonwealth games. If we cancelled every so called national adventure project we would have never have F1 fans and racing enthusiasts in Malaysia, we would still ride the bus nor would we have a nice stadium to run in. Yes building more schools, roads and hospitals are good for the nation. But what one must understand that it takes more than just schools, roads, hospitals and infrastucture to develop a nation. A nation needs hopes, dreams and something to look forward to, a nation needs a sense of pride to move forward and become better. A nation needs to inspire it's future generation and sadly it seems that we really lack that these days.
P/S - Kids need more of Sheikh Muzafar and Nicol David, Lee Chong wei? Nope not so much, I don't think getting a datukship right after you got thrashed by Lin Dan in a pansy ass game is something heroic.