KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) _ Malaysia will set up a Web site for the public to track the selection process for the country's first astronaut, and to vote for the candidate they think is most suitable, a report said Wednesday.
Science, Technology and Innovations Minister Jamaluddin Jarjis said the government wants citizens to be involved in the selection process, and not just watch from the sidelines as history is made, The Star newspaper reported.
After rigorous physical and psychological tests, 200 aspirants have been shortlisted, up to 10 of whom will be sent to Russia for the final test to select two future astronauts. But only one will go into space in 2007 as part of a scientific mission on Russia's International Space Station.
"We want the people to have their say. When we have whittled the candidates down to the final group, we will put their names, backgrounds, test records and progress on a Web site,'' the newspaper quoted Jamaluddin as saying.
He said the public can then say who they think is the most deserving candidate and vote for him or her through mobile phone text messages.
He did not say if the votes would have a bearing on the decision of the panel selecting the astronauts. But an official of the National Space Agency, speaking on condition of anonymity on Wednesday, said this was unlikely.
Jamaluddin did not say when the Web site would be established.
The National Space Agency has said that aside from being physically and psychologically fit, Malaysia's first astronaut must be able to relate to the people and serve as an inspiration to the country's youth.
Malaysia Targets 2020 for Possible Manned Moon Mission