Tony Hotland in The Jakarta Post yesterday wrote that forty years after its establishment, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI, Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia), continues its struggle to earn proper recognition from the public and from the government as well.
Whilst LIPI head Umar Anggara Jenie honestly acknowledges that LIPI’s achievements weren’t tangible enough for the general public, LIPI deputy Lukman Hakim blamed governments’ half-hearted support for innovation. A statement that might be true, albeit only partly.
Other LIPI’s executive pointed to Indonesians who were embarrassed to use local products, for the problem that it faces. What’s wrong with LIPI, the government and the Indonesian people?
My opinion is that LIPI can not just put all the blame to the government and to the Indonesian people, and I believe they don’t. LIPI could not say that it has fulfilled its duty just by conducting enormous amount of research, without taking responsibilities whether the government will use them or not.
LIPI shall be responsible that the research it conducted shall provide benefit to the general public, and it is only possible if the government use their findings and recommendations. To be able to achieve that, LIPI executive shall be able to build sound political communication and effective working relationship with the government, the president in particular, and his inner circles.
If the president is blind on the importance of science, technology and research in improving his image, if it is the most important thing that he cares and I believe it’s not, LIPI shall find ways on how to educate the president, and or his inner circles, that his long lasting image and the future of this country relies on the commitment that he puts on those fields, including education.
LIPI will not be able to fulfill its duty by criticizing the government publicly, as it will even make the situation worse, not only for LIPI but more importantly to the Indonesian people in general. The fact that the government plan to cut LIPI’s 2008 budget to only Rp 558 billion from Rp 592 billion this year reflects the communication and the trust problem that it has with the government.
The president and his inners circles may not be happy with LIPI, while LIPI is definitely not happy with the situation. I understand that it’s not easy for scientist to play politics, and for politicians to understand science and technology. It’s probably easier to understand that the fate of the Indonesian people are now at stake.
LIPI needs more funds to conduct quality research, and to keep its top researchers motivated, but it shall take responsibilities for the utilization of its output by the government and or private sectors, only then would its existence be recognized. LIPI needs government and public relations works.
The government needs to put the Indonesian people’s future above anything else, and provide strong support to LIPI and all research and development activities, and plays as mediator between research institutions, including universities, with private sectors which can utilize the inventions.
As for the Indonesian people in general, let’s be proud of watching, listening, using, enjoying Indonesian products and services. Our founding fathers and heroes were willing to sacrifice everything, including their precious lives and their beloved ones, for this republic to exist. The sacrifices that we give by using local products are far less painful and less life threatening compared to those given by our founding fathers. Use the 80:20 rules whenever possible, allocate 80% of our daily spending for local products.
Let’s listen to the patriotic Leo Kristi: Jabat tangan erat-erat Saudaraku.
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