Hishammuddin made all the right noises yesterday after the millennium jump expedition organisers admitted a day earlier that a millennium parachute jump near the South Pole did not take place as earlier claimed
He said: "We will conduct an in-depth investigation. This is a lesson for us. The government will be strict from now in dealing with proposals which involve our flag and country.
"We have had too many proposals of being the first, the biggest, the smallest and so on. We will look at such projects strictly from now on."
However Hishamuddin’s statement yesterday that his Ministry would conduct an in-depth investigation is a great disappointment for two reasons: firstly, his failure to convey any sense of outrage that the national flag and honour had been defiled by the South Pole parachute jump fiasco, making Malaysia the butt of international jokes; and secondly, he conveyed no sense of urgency that immediate action would be taken to redeem national honour and dignity.
Instead, Hishammuddin seems to be overly protective of the expedition when he said: "But based on what we have so far, I don't think there is anything sinister" raising the question whether there would eventually be a cover-up.
What is the use of Hishammuddin still talking in the future tense about his Ministry would be conducting an in-depth investigation, when such an investigation should have been underway and in full swing.
What was Hishammuddin doing the previous three days after the Sunday Mail had reported that members of a splinter group of the original Malaysian South Pole Millennium Jump had alleged that no jump took place near the Geographical South Pole, as reported by the Press, and that a police report had been lodged on the matter.
Hishammuddin was contacted last Sunday and he told reporters at his Hari Raya open house that he would "look into the newspaper report" with the assurance: "I will not compromise on matters that involve the country's name."
It is no use Hishammuddin talking about why "any person or association who represented the country had to uphold the integrity of the country" and that he had "no qualms about looking into it even from the criminal aspect" as "there had been cases before when sports had been used by certain people for their own ends" if he could do nothing for three days!
Hishammuddin should direct that a full investigation into the South Pole parachute jump fiasco be completed and made public within a week as it is a serious test of his ministerial calibre. He should immediately announce who are conducting the investigation, which should also investigate why the Youth and Sports Ministry had been so remiss as to allow such a fiasco to compromise the nation’s honour, dignity and integrity and pin-point the Ministry officials who must also bear part responsibility for this national shame.
Does Hishammuddin agree with the Millennium Jump 2000 organising chairman G. Siva Kumar who said that the government’s RM780,000 loan for the expedition was "between him and the ministry, and not for public consumption" and if not, is he going to make public the full details of such a million-ringgit outlay by the government?
Hishammuddin should ensure that he does not start his Cabinet career with a million-ringgit South Pole millennium jump fiasco and scandal!