Sat, 08 Apr 2000

Government assures LIPI's independence

JAKARTA (JP): The government assured the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) on Friday that it will enjoy complete independence in carrying out its mission because freedom is a pillar of creativity.

"The government will no longer interfere in LIPI's internal affairs," acting State Secretary Bondan Gunawan said after swearing in historian Taufik Abdullah as the institute's new chief to replace Soefjan Tsauri.

"LIPI will be able to work independently and professionally in line with scientific demands and norms. Without them, scientists and researchers will loose imagination and creativity," he said.

Under Taufik's leadership, LIPI must strive to be more creative and productive, Bondan said.

"I'm sure the government is not wrong entrusting him to lead the institute. His meritorious service and reputation is beyond question. Under his leadership, LIPI will become more famous and productive for the nation," he said.

"Indonesia lags behind Europe and its Asian neighbors in the development of science and related applications," he said.

Taufik, whose previous position was a LIPI senior researcher, was estranged from the profession at one time because of his vocal criticisms of then president Soeharto.

"We should not look back," Taufik said when asked about his treatment by the past government. "LIPI will keep in mind the government's promise of independence in carrying out its scientific mission," he said.

He was one of the first public figures to criticize President Abdurrahman Wahid's plan to lift a 34-year ban against the teachings of communism and Marxism-Leninism.

LIPI will revive research activities in humanitarian studies which have been neglected in the last 30 years, said Taufik, who became the first chairman with a social science background.

"LIPI will also function as an agent of development in the social, political and economic fields," he said.

Taufik said that to reduce dependence on state finances, LIPI would forge more cooperation with end users of its research products.

LIPI currently employs more than 1,000 scientists and researchers.

Former LIPI chief Samaun Samadikun said he hoped the institute would return to its original mission of developing sciences and technology for the nation's benefit.

Dewi Fortuna Anwar, a political expert at the institute, said one of Taufik's main tasks is to repair LIPI's public image.

The government should stop recruiting LIPI's scientists and researchers into the administration and allow the institute to turn itself into a center of excellence, Dewi said.

A number of LIPI staffers have joined the administration or chosen political careers in recent years. (rms)