I've heard from some friends that our Astronaut, Dato' Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha is now demanding RM8,000 an hour to speak at public functions, even at primary and secondary schools. And that excludes hotel and flight charges.
If this is true, then I think the practice must stop. RM8,000 to speak for just an hour or as an "appearance fee" is exorbitant. It is unethical, inmoral almost. How is a primary school going to cough up RM8,000?
I was told that Faiz Khaleed, the reserve astronaut who did not even leave the earth's orbit is also charging a similar fee.
Dr Sheikh Muszaphar, I was told, earns a salary from the Government, being an employee of Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI). Furthermore, his outer space adventure was funded by the Malaysian public, including me. He shouldn't be commercialising his public-funded stardom and make more money for himself. If he continues to do that, he will soon lose his "hero" reputation and will be despised by the public.
I am sure my friend Dato' Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis who as the Minister of MOSTI worked very hard to make the astronaut programme a success and to put Malaysia in the history books, would "jump" if he hears about this.
My name is Mohd Ashraf Abdullah. I was born and raised in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan. I am a journalist at heart. I served the New Straits Times as a journalist for 17 years, beginning as a cadet reporter in 1988. I was trained to be a political writer. I served the NST in various capacities including as Staff Correspondent of the Kuantan Bureau and London Correspondent. I resigned as News Editor in 2004 to join Golden Hope Plantations Berhad as Deputy General Manager, Group Corporate Affairs. Two years later I was made General Manager, Group Corporate Affairs. When Golden Hope and Kumpulan Guthrie Berhad were merged with Sime Darby Berhad in November 2007, I chose not to accept the offer of employment by the merged entity. I was a scholar of the British Government and possess a Masters Degree in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. I am also a Jefferson's Fellow of the East West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.