Former Prime Minister and Member of Parliament for Langkawi Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed’s comments posted on Friday 13 November 2020 on his blog chedet :
1. I must congratulate the United States Space Agency (NASA) for successfully landing a space craft and collecting samples of the soil on a meteorite situated so far away in space.
2. It is a fantastic achievement as it took the space vehicle more than 3 years to reach the meteorite, land on it, pick up some soil and then took off to ‘fly’ back to earth. It should take 3 years to return to earth.
3. It is a great feat. But we cannot know what the meteorite soil contains. We assume it would be of some elements that is found on earth.
4. But it could also be some matter that is harmful to us on earth.
5. Remember the atom bomb. The scientists thought it would just explode and kill the people of Hiroshima the same way that other bombs do.
6. But later we found it was lethal in other ways also. It produced radiation which killed people beyond the site of the explosion. Now we know that if we use this weapon in war the whole world will be affected. They will suffer from radiation disease and they may be killed.
7. And so we prohibit the use of nuclear weapons.
8. Now we have COVID-19. Again it is something we knew nothing about. We were not prepared to deal with this virus. And millions have been infected and more than one million have died. And more will die before we develop an effective vaccine.
9. So, what if the soil we bring back from the meteorite is totally new. What if it is an element which can poison the air we breathe, or the sea, or our soil. Are we sure that all the elements in the universe are like the elements we find on this earth? Can there not be something that is not in our planet. Can it be poisonous to life on our planet?
10. H.G. Wells told us the alien who attacked our planet were killed by our bacteria. But what if the material as creatures are different and lethal to life on earth, the whole world can be destroyed.
11. Already, right here on earth, a virus has made its appearance which can wipe out human life on earth. Yes, we are combating it. We may be successful. But we can also fail.
12. The people in America too must be familiar with invasive elements. We read about invasive predator fishes, the snake-heads, found in lakes and waterways in the US, most originating from parts of Asia and decimating the local fish populace.
13. That is within the context of invasive elements from merely other parts of the world.
14. So be careful about this soil from this meteorite in outer space.