Is Angkasawan program wasteful?

Wherever I go in the cyberspace, whenever I encountered topic about Angkasawan program most people said it is a wasteful program because we spend around US$30 million to send a Malaysian to space. But, is it really a waste of fund?

The space 'program' started when we negotiated to buy 18 Su-30MKM complete with weapon suite, radar, spare parts and establishment of Sukhoi servicing center in Malaysia. Any weapons purchase (a big weapon purchase) must be come with an (or several) offset to the beneficial of the purchaser country. For example, the offset when we buy 18 Mig-29N (people said it is Najib aircraft because of the N while for Russia N designation is for Malaysia because there are already Mig-29M in service at that time - if I'm not mistaken) is the establishment of School of Aeronautical Engineering at USM. Russia agreed to establish the school with the help of expert from Russia. The offset for NGPV project is the establishment of warship dry dock in Malaysia. The offset for buying PT-91M is the establishment of tank industry in Malaysia.

Now, most of the offset is not benefiting the citizen directly but it will make sure Malaysia will has a better defense industry in the future (if manage properly).

Then, the Angkasawan program is the offset from Su-30MKM purchase. So, for the cost of training, cost of living and cost to blast the angkasawan to the space was all bear by Russian government. Not a single cent come from taxpayer money except :-
1. The cost to search for Angkasawan in Malaysia.
2. The cost to send the Angkasawan to Russia.
3. The cost of people who go to Star City Russia (yg konon2nya iring Angkasawan)
4. The cost of our dear PM who go to Kazakhstan to interact with our Angkasawan.
5. The cost of sending our experiment to the space (I think).

Yes, the Angkasawan program cannot be viewed as "Malaysia conquered space technology" and/or etc. It is because we didn't have the technology to send our people to space. We just hitch a ride using Russian technology. But the impact of the program for the common people is huge. Now, most Malaysian know there is a space station orbiting the Earth. Malaysian know that some of the satellite we send to the space, we made it ourselves. If the government are serious to continue pursuing the space program it is better for the government to also send technical team to learn from Russia. Maybe we can learn something (if not all) from them what its take to setup our own launch platform to go to space. If government are really serious about this, the government need to attract Malaysian that work at NASA and other space agency to setup our own space program here in our own soil.

If the government want to continue with the space program, the government need to know that we will need to spend lots of money for it. But it will benefit our country in the long run.

So, do I think the Angkasawan program wasteful? Not at all. Yes, I know there are lots of Malaysian still live in a hardcore poverty but it is not only government respond to help them. We have zakat's money from every states, right? Why don't we use the zakat's money to help all Malaysian? We have billions of ringgit at Baitulmal. And also, we have rich Malaysian to help poor Malaysian. We have lots of billionaire and millionaire in Malaysia, and why the heck only a few of them 'return' back the money to help other 'poor' Malaysian?

IMHO the government need and should continue with the space program. Send technical team to learn from Russia. And be serious about it.

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