On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Jumping with outrage over jump fiasco

It should also draw up a timeframe for  the team to return the loan.

But there is more here than just the 
question of money. The whole country 
was misled into believing a government sanctioned mission accomplished
something it did not.

To put it bluntly, the Malaysian Millennium Jump 2000 skydivers were poles  apart from their target.

The eight members of the team should  not
expect the nation to applaud them for 
landing at Patriot Hills, 1,800km away 
from the intended location  the
goegraphical South Pole  on Jan 1.

The distance between Alor Star and Singapore is only 868km.

One team member even justified: “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,
didn't we?''

Fikiran Syndicate's G. Siva Kumar owes 
the Government and all Malaysians an explanation.

He should not blame the Russian co-ordinator at the base camp in Patriot
Hills  for feeding him with the

His defence was there was only one  phone
line which was monopolised by the 
Russians and that he could not get back to  the Malaysian team to verify the truth.

When The Star called him in Los Angeles, Siva Kumar still maintained there  was a jump.

The fact is that a lot of Malaysians are 
now jumping for being misled.

The controversy started even before  the
team left Malaysia following a report  of
a fall-out between team members. This 
was followed by a denial with threats of a  legal suit.

It is now clear everything was wrong 
from Day One. Malaysians cannot help 
but get the impression that the preparations were insufficient.

Fikiran Syndicate must understand it is 
all right to admit failure. Even if we did  not make it, no one would fault the

There was no pressure on them to succeed and Malaysians understand the
difficulties of a team from a tropical country 
adjusting to sub-zero temperatures.

If the weather had not permitted them  to
jump, it would be foolish for us to expect them to risk their lives.

Besides the bad weather, poor logistical 
management and the breakdown of snow 
buggies were among the reasons for the 

In a face-saving gesture, team members are now saying they are proud because
the jump qualified them as the first 
Asian team to reach the South pole.

Not many of us will be elated with this 
annoucement. We should have, perhaps, 
settled for a lesser target.

In our frenzy to be the first, the biggest 
and the largest in everything, we seem to  have gone overboard.

It is commendable to strive for excellence, to build the spirit of patrotism
and  to achieve success.

The South Pole jump fiasco, however, 
should not deter Malaysians from going 
for other challenges. No doubt it has been  a damper but we should put that behind  us.

There is no need to review the Malaysia 
Boleh campaign as the country must continue to encourage the people to
strive for  excellence, particularly
among the young.

What we want is to put a stop to the pursuit of aimless targets just to enter
the  book of records.

The South Pole jump controversy is a 
lesson to all of us. The Government will,  from now, be more careful with people  who come to them with various

We should check these people's backgrounds and abilities. After giving
them  the loan, sponsorship and the flag,
the job  does not end there.

The Government must keep track of developments of those involved in such a  project, particularly if the project is a
difficult one, to ensure its success.

Malaysians must understand that when  we
announce a feat, it is watched by everyone, including our neighbours.

Our rivals would love to see us fail. In 
fact, the South Pole jump fiasco was given  wide coverage in a neighbouring

If that's not bad enough, some of our 
Malaysian politicians must have jumped 
with joy to see the team flop so they can  take a dig at the Malaysia Boleh

But it's okay. There's nothing wrong in 
tumbling once after our string of successes.