"Cemerlang means excellent. It is necessary to make a distinction between achievement and excellence. For example, it was doubtless an achievement for Abdul Malik Mydin to be the first Malaysian to swim the English Channel.
However, his time of 17 hours and 42 minutes is short of excellent if we keep in mind that a 12-year-old girl Samantha Druce managed 15 hrs 28 mins. Even a 70-year-old, George Burnstad, did better at 15.59 than the 29-year-old Malik at 17.42.
The Malay hero was nonetheless conferred a Datukship for his exploit, such ‘excellence’ as KPI-ed by our self-calibrated measure. Was it worth all the state-sponsored expense of Malik’s training under an Australian coach and ‘airflown’ to England for his almost 18-hour swim when the best channel crossers can complete the distance in under-seven hours?
For that matter, why not carry out the Malaysia Boleh stunt, if they must, swimming from Langkawi to Kuala Kedah instead?
It was however a different case with the second Malaysian to swim the channel that same year (2004). Lennard Lee was already based in England – at Cambridge University doing medicine, and at least his swim met a more useful objective, i.e. to raise funds for a cancer hospital.
Clocking 9.45, Lee was faster than Malik by a whopping eight hours.
More importantly, Lee did not land Malaysian taxpayers a hefty bill for ‘Satu lagi projek Barisan Nasional’.