Call on Cabinet to conduct review whether the "Malaysia Boleh" campaign has gone overboard and should be reined in as not to promote outlandish, purposeless and even deceitful  pursuit of fame and glory devoid of the values of honest endeavour, commitment and excellence

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya, Friday): The Minister for Youth and Sports, Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein has still to identify who would be responsible for the independent and thoroughgoing "in-depth investigation" into the million-ringgit South Pole parachute jump fiasco and scandal - and he should announce the persons to constitute such an inquiry committee without any delay.

In fact, the inquiry into the South Pole parachute Malaysia's national heroes to give due recognition to their feats, which includes jump fiasco should be extended to the North Pole paracute free-fall in April 1998 to assure Malaysians that there was no  hanky-panky in "Malaysia Boleh" creation of national heroes and to check the unseemly and  murky side of the "Malaysia Boleh" frenzy.

Just before the National Day last August, the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism launched a "Malaysia Boleh" jingle to honour sailing solo around the world, climbing Mount Everest and freefalling over the North Pole.

The Ministry said the  jingle was to spur the spirit of patriotism among Malaysians, remind the younger generation of our national heroes' accomplishments and to cultivate a future generation who will strive to reach greater heights.

The South Pole paracute jump fiasco and scandal, where the entire nation was misled into believing that Malaysian skydivers were the first Asians to  jump over the  South Pole from an altitude of 6,400m  on January 13, 2000   to mark the millennium when such a millennium jump had never taken place, has raised disturbing questions as to whether all the other national feats like the North Pole parachute free-fall in April 1998 had been above-board with no hanky-panky whatsoever.

Dr. Kamaruddin M. Isa, the person who performed a great national service by single-handedly exposing the South Pole paracute jump fiasco by lodging a police report, has made another shocking revelation in todayís Star report by K. Parkaran.

Dr. Kamaruddin said the Malaysian Millennium Jump 2000 team knew that there was no skydive over the Geographical South Pole even before they left the country on December 26, 1999.

He said the international organiser, 45th Russian Expedition, told them that no delegation was given a permit to jump at the Geographical South Pole as it would have been extremely dangerous with the weather then.

He said: "We were only given permission to jump on Jan. 1  at Patriot Hills. Even then, the first jumper was an Indian air force officer, Lt Kamal Singh."

Dr. Kamaruddinís latest revelation has thrown a totally new and shocking  light on the whole expedition.

When the Malaysian Millennium Jump 2000 team returned from South Pole to Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, its organising chairman G. Siva Kumar made two claims after he was  forced to admit that the skydivers never jumped over the Geographical South Pole as officially claimed earlier:
 

  1. That Malaysians were the first Asians to parachute in the Antarctic - which appears to be false and untrue.
  2. That the Malaysian skydivers could not parachute over the Geographical South Pole because of logistic problems caused by the Russian  coordinators, and that legal action against joint organisers of  the expedition - Forum Expedition Incorporated of the United  States and 45 Russian Antarctic Expedition of Russia - for  failing to deliver what they promised.  This would be another untruth if Dr. Kamaruddin is right that the Malaysian skydivers knew that there was no jump  over the Geographical South Pole even before they left the country on December 26, 1999.
 
Malaysians have nothing to feel proud and everything to feel ashamed at the South Pole parachute jump fiasco and scandal.

Why canít  the Malaysian Millennium Jump 2000 report about the jump in the  Antartic at Patriot Hills  at an altitude of  4,500m above the sea level on January 1,  2000 without making baseless and ridiculous claims?

The expedition leader, Deputy Supt of Police Muhamad Fuad Abu Zarim, for instance, said on his return to Kuala Lumpur:  "The area is in  the South Pole.  For example, if we did not land at the Petronas Twin Towers but the Royal Selangor Club instead, we still parachuted over Kuala Lumpur, didnít we?"

Universiti Malaya geography department head Assoc Prof Dr Azizan Abu Samah, who led a four-person team on Malaysia's first scientific expedition to the Antarctic in October,  said it was wrong for the team to claim that they had jumped over the  South Pole just because they skydived over Patriot Hills on Jan 1, 2000.

This is because Patriot Hills, which is the Chilean airport base,  is on the Antarctic continent but it is not in  the South Pole. The   Geographical South Pole is located on 90 degree latitude and is about 1,800km away - which  is more than three times the entire length of peninsular Malaysia.

If the millennium skydivers had been told even before they left for South Pole that there would be no  jump over the Geographical South Pole, then there was a fraudulent conspiracy to mislead the government, people and nation which must be taken seriously by the authorities.

This would mean that all the following statements were made in the full knowledge that they were untrue:
 

 
The Cabinet must take a serious view of the South Pole parachute jump fiasco and scandal, for it has sullied not only Malaysiaís name, flag and honour, but showed that all is not good and right with  the "Malaysia Boleh" frenzy, resulting not in a pursuit of excellence but of greed for glory at any price.

Probably, the Cabinet at its meeting next Wednesday should set up a committee to conduct an overal review whether the "Malaysia Boleh" campaign  has gone overboard and should be reined in so that it does not end up with all sorts of ridiculous, outlandish, purposeless and even deceitful  pursuit of fame and glory  for being the first, the biggest, the smallest of this or that completely devoid of the values of  honest endeavour, commitment and excellence that  are meant to be promoted.

The Youth and Sports Ministry cannot distance itself from the  South Pole millennium jump fiasco as the Malaysian Millennium Jump 2000 is jointly organised by the Ministry and Fikiran Syndicate, together with an loan allocation of RM780,000.

The Ministry was also a co-organiser of the  "North Pole Freefall Expedition Malaysia 1998" although there is yet to be a full accounting of the expenses and budget for the expendition.

Hishammuddin should table the full budgetary details of the North Pole Parachute Free Fall 1998 and the disgraceful South Pole Parachute Non-Jump when Parliament reconvenes next month.

(28/1/2000)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman