Indonesia to merge leading science institutions into super body

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Indonesia to merge leading science institutions into super body

A security guard walks by the main gate of the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, one of the research arms in Indonesia founded in 1888, in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 13, 2022. JAKARTA, Jan 14, Reuters -- Indonesia's government is facing criticism from some top scientists and lawmakers that a sweeping restructuring bringing together the country's leading science and technology institutes could undermine research efforts.

Half a dozen science, technology and research institutes will be integrated into a National Research and Innovation Agency BRIN, a move the government hopes will improve access to resources and funding, and boost competitiveness.

BRIN chief Laksana Tri Handoko told Reuters that Indonesian research is far from the level of even our neighbouring countries.

It is now time to make a real action and change the situation. Some scientists and parliamentarians warn that the shake-up could increase red tape, see dozens of young scientists laid off, and put oversight in the hands of politicians.

The steering committee of the BRIN will be headed by former President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

One of Indonesia's best known scientific research institutions, the Eijkman Institute, will be absorbed into BRIN because of the restructuring.

Most Eijkman staff are suffering, according to Gandung Pardiman, a researcher and industry commission member, told Laksana as he was grilled in Parliament this week.

The institute, founded in 1882 by Dutch pathologist Christiaan Eijkman, who later won a Nobel Prize, was closed for several decades but opened in the early 1990s.

Professor Sangkot Marzuki, who has been the head of the institute for more than two decades, said you can't improve Indonesia's scientific performance under one super body.

It is not possible to destroy the work environment and scientific work culture that has been developed in various institutions over the decades because there is no way to increase bureaucracy. The country is bracing for a third wave of coronaviruses, and the changes have been planned since last year.

Professor Amin Soebandrio, who was the head of the institute until last year, said that there are a number of concerns about the restructuring, including the possibility of delays to vaccine development and genome sequencing, and the future of scientific independence. Scientists are afraid that scientific freedom will be diminished.