A probe is to begin on Tuesday into allegations that Malaysia’s first astronaut Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor Sheikh Mustapha has amassed RM1.2mil from payments for the talks he gave on his experience in space.

Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Fadillah Yusof said on Sunday the investigation would be conducted by a committee to be set up after the deadline for receiving all reports and complaints from the public ended tomorrow (Monday).

Speaking to reporters after launching a family day here, he confirmed that the ministry had received letters of complaint since the allegation surfaced but declined to divulge details.

“We urge the public not to come with only letters of complaint but to substantiate their complaints with solid evidence such as receipts as proof of payment, invoices and all written attachments or correspondence related to any event attended by him (Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor),” he said.

Failure to furnish solid evidence would leave the ministry with no choice but to regard the complaints as mere allegations, he said.

“If we don’t receive many complaints, we can conclude the investigation very fast but if there are many then it may take a little bit longer but our target is to complete (the probe) by early December,” he said when asked about the timeframe for the investigation.

Fadillah said the scope of the investigation would be, among other things, to determine whether the astronaut imposed fees for his appearance or talks and to recommend appropriate action to be taken by the ministry.

Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor is alleged to have charged RM8,000 per hour for talks from 150 corporations since his return from the ISS in October last year.

In response to the adverse reports, Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor has been quoted as saying he had accepted contributions when he spoke at events but denied allegations that he had received up to RM8,000 an hour for the talks. — Bernama