Saturday, February 14, 2009

Apa cerita Program Angkasawan Negara?


Baru-baru ini saya ke Restoran Rebung kepunyaan Chef Ismail dan angkasawan Malaysia Dr Sheikh Muszaphar. Dr Sheikh tak ada tapi Chef Mail ada. Orangnya ramah dan mesra, mungkin pasal saya ni customer, tapi kira saya puas hati lah dengan servis restoran ni. Ada personal touch.

Apa yang diborakkan tak penting, tapi saya terfikir apa dah jadi dengan Program Angkasawan Negara. Daripada satu program yang dibanggakan sekarang banyak timbul isu tak puas hati sana-sini.

Bacaan saya ialah ini kerana pertukaran pimpinan MOSTI dan Angkasa sendiri – kalau nak tau Angkasa tu Agensi Angkasa Negara, kira sama level dengan NASA di US lah.

Kalau dulu, Menteri MOSTI JJ atau Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis begitu bersemangat dengan program ni. Beliaulah promoter nombor satu Program Angkasawan, ke sana-sini bercakap pasal angkasawan, malah turut berada di Kazakhstan semasa pelancaran roket yang membawa Dr. Sheikh pada malam ke-27 bulan Ramadan itu. Malah PM Pak Lah pun tak sudi pergi ke sana kerana sibuk nak beraya dengan bini barunya masa itu. Tapi JJ tetap turun.

Tapi lepas Jamaludin Jarjis berhenti dari MOSTI, program angkasawan terus senyap. Maka terkial-kial lah mereka yang bertanggungjawab mengenai hal ini di MOSTI dan agensi berkaitan hendak meneruskan juga program ini, sekurang-kurangnya program-program menjelajah ke sekolah. Dalam banyak kes, Dr Sheikh dan Dr Faiz banyak ke program penerangan atas inisiatif sendiri, atas tujuan tak mahu hampakan budak-budak sekolah yang betul-betul excited nak jumpa mereka.

Gitulah lebih kurang ceritanya. Dan ini satu yang menyedihkan. Ramai yang kata, apa guna program ni, habis juta-juta ringgit, lebih baik tolong orang miskin. Ini memang betul, memang saya setuju sangat kita tolong orang miskin, tapi kita tengok macam ni la. Sudah berapa ratus juta negara habiskan untuk membiayai bidang sukan, misalnya. Program bolasepak, badminton, olahraga, lumba basikal, renang dan seribu satu lagi macam sukan. Kalau nak kira, apa lah gunanya program-program ni? Berapa ramai yang untung? Apa keuntungannya pada negara? Begitu juga dengan banyak benda lain yang kita buat guna duit negara? Apa keuntungannya?

Tengok pula program angkasawan ni. Sejak dari mula ia diumumkan, minat anak-anak kita pada sains terutama sains angkasa lepas naik mencanak-canak. Subjek yang selama ini malas depa nak ikut, sekarang ni depa tahu dan belajar sendiri lebih dari apa yang sekolah perlukan. Kalau dulu bila ditanya cita-cita, jawapan standard ialah engineer, akauntan dan lawyer, sekarang ni angkasawan menjadi cita-cita favourite, di samping jurutera angkasa lepas, roket saintis dan sebagainya.

Berapa nilai perubahan sikap dan minda ini?

Memang inilah pun yang sebenarnya ditarget oleh MOSTI pun. Kata Jamaludin Jarjis semasa mengulas pelancaran roket Dr Sheikh, program ini sebagai pemangkin baru pembangunan negara dalam separuh abad yang kedua, dan direka untuk memberi inspirasi dan semangat kepada golongan muda bahawa jika ada kemahuan, semuanya boleh. Everything is now possible. Dan bahawa sains dan teknologi itu satu bidang yang sangat menarik. Dan ini memang jelas berjaya jika dilihat perubahan sikap pelajar-pelajar sekolah hari ini terhadap subjek sains. Kata Dr Faiz dalam blognya,

"I’ve been reading the comments posted on the blog and thank everyone again for their support and wishes. I was released from hospital on Wednesday and am now resting at home. The process of recovery is going well and the injury should heal on time, if not sooner. Insya-Allah. My only regret is not being able to move about and attend the various program that have been arranged for us, including the recent Angkasawan and Innovation Showcase at PWTC. Sorry I couldn’t be there, but moving about too much will hamper the recovery process. So I have been told by the doctors to just stay at home and rest. I was informed that many visitors turned up, and am delighted that the Angkasawan programme had created so much interest especially amongst the young.

It appeared that one the main objectives of the programme, which was to inspire the younger generation of Malaysian and instil interest in the areas of science and technology, had achieved astonishing success. So many of the students that came up to meet me and Sheikh at various places throughout our involvement in this space programme, had enthusiastically told us how they want to become Angkasawan, how they are suddenly interested in learning science, how they want to build rockets etc. And the questions they asked showed that they have certainly done much reading on the subject, which is very surprising as I don’t think (correct me if I’m wrong here) our science curriculum covers much about space science.

However, I have been told by our Western friends (Russians and Americans) that we shouldn’t find this too surprising. Apparently the manned Apollo space missions to the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s led to a surge in interest in science and technology among American youngsters which resulted in the training of a generation of highly-skilled people, many of them turning into engineers and scientists. Many eventually worked for NASA and many others ended up in other areas of science and engineering.

So hopefully, this will also be true of our experience; that these youngsters whose interest has been fired up by this Angkasawan programme will one day be leading engineers and scientists that will serve the country. But what will happen if we suddenly stop our space initiative? What if we stop at just sending Sheikh to space? Will the interest wane after a few years? Will our youngsters then start focusing back on their old idols – singers and actors, and their ambitions change from wanting to become astronauts and scientists to becoming singers and actors, as we have been seeing these past few years? I believe there is a big possibility of this happening if we don’t continue with our space programme. And a golden opportunity would be lost. That is why I believe that we should continue our space programme, with major events planned every few years to provide a continuing buzz and maintain interest in space sciences in particular and science and engineering in general.

So is it just about inspiring students? Of course not. Parents too have been excited, and have stated to us that they want their children to become more involved in science, and some asked us what sort of careers in space science would be available if their children pursue that studies some day. Many also want their children to become medical practitioners like Sheikh and I, although I have to admit that this is something completely unexpected when I joined the program. But it is still a good thing, isn’t it?

The fact is, this space programme has opened up a new perspective in the thinking of many Malaysians. Of course, it has also shown to everyone that when one sets a mind to achieve something, then anything might be possible. The launching of our first astronaut has inspired many to try to realize their dreams. It is the ultimate representation of the “Malaysia Boleh” spirit.

But providing inspiration is only one of the many benefits of our Angkasawan programme. The Angkasawan programme has pushed the local scientific community into the realm of space science – the experiments carried out by Sheikh at the ISS were mostly experiments for our universities’ research projects. In one stroke, whole new areas of scientific studies were opened up by the Angkasawan programme domestically. This can only be positive for our nation and our people. Again, this boost will not sustain if the Angkasawan programme is stopped at its very beginning. A continuous effort is necessary before significant scientific knowledge and spin-offs are generated from this programme."

Apa yang Dr Faiz kata tu dah cukup untuk jadi renungan. Sesetengah orang memang tak boleh nak terima apa saja yang kerajaan buat, semuanya salah. Mungkin mereka lebih suka anak mereka idolize Mawi dari berimpian menjadi seperti Dr. Sheikh atau Dr. Faiz. Tapi bagi yang lain, yang bersedia membuka mata dan melihat ini dalam konteks yang lebih besar dari konteks "oh lebih baik guna duit tu tolong orang miskin", penyemarakkan semula program ini, satu rejuvenation ke atas program ini, perlu digesa dan disokong.

Kalau tidak, mereka yang bencikan program ini dari mula, yang memang mahu melihat kegagalan semua projek negara, yang sentiasa mahu mempermain-mainkan kejayaan orang Malaysia, akan ketawa berdekah-dekah dengan hidung tinggi mereka dan berkata "We told you so". Tolong jangan berikan kepuasan ini pada mereka.

5 comments:

  1. Ibarat..hidup segan mati tak mahu...

    Salam persahabatn.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Itulah yang sedihnya. Sedangkan pencapaian ini sebenarnya antara pencapaian paling besar dalam sejarah negara kita. Nampak sangat melalui isu ini orang-orang tua, termasuklah pemimpin negara, tak minat dan tak pentingkan sains & teknologi, kecuali Jamaludin Jarjis je lah kot. Inilah jadinya kalau pemimpin takde wawasan.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Saya linkan blog ini dengan blog http://bongkarsauh.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Saya rasa program tersebut menelan belanjawan yang tinggi tidak kurang dari RM 10 juta dan akan menjadi 'politikal suicide' jikalau wang tersebut dibelanjakan dalam keadaan ekonomi global yg kurang stabil.
    (Jawapan politikus kah kah kah)

    ReplyDelete
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