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Jakarta Post

‘Our own people’ first: Megawati urges research body not to lean on foreign scientists

  • Marchio Irfan Gorbiano

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, January 31, 2020   /   06:57 am
‘Our own people’ first: Megawati urges research body not to lean on foreign scientists Agency for the Implementation of the State Ideology of Pancasila (BPIP) steering committee head Megawati Soekarnoputri speaks during a presidential lecture event at the State Palace in Jakarta on Dec. 3, 2019. (Antara/Puspa Perwitasari)

Former president Megawati Soekarnoputri called on Thursday for the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) to prioritize Indonesian researchers in science and technology, a move which she deemed necessary to defend the country's national interests.

"Don't let our republic rush into collaborating with our close friends from abroad. Just make use of [researchers] from our own people in the nation first," Megawati said during a meeting held by the Research and Technology Ministry, which oversees the BRIN, in South Tangerang, Banten.

Speaking in her capacity as the Agency for the Implementation of the State Ideology of Pancasila (BPIP) steering committee head, she explained that BRIN had to maintain principles of "sovereignty" when collaborating with foreign scientists.

Megawati said her suggestion did not mean that Indonesia should abruptly avoid joining with other countries to develop science and technology.

“Collaborations [with other countries] of course do not mean that we are chaining ourselves down and letting other nations make regulations and develop policies,” she said, adding that she believed foreign countries would refrain from handing over the fruits of their research, particularly those of strategic importance.

In October of last year, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo inked Presidential Regulation (perpres) No. 74/2019, which served as the legal basis for the establishment of BRIN, which has a mandate of coordinating the government’s efforts to improve the country's competitiveness in research and technology, among other things.

The regulation, however, was only in force until Dec. 31 as the second paragraph of article 36 in the Perpres ordered BRIN to reorganize itself according to the agency’s strategy, which should be in line with the President’s vision.

A new Perpres will be issued to detail BRIN’s role going forward, according to the third paragraph of article 36 of the regulation.

Megawati expressed her skepticism about the previously floated idea to make BRIN operate like a holding company, saying that such a move would betray the agency’s purpose in the first place.

“With respect, the plan to design BRIN to operate like a holding company should be further studied," she said. “Remember, BRIN is a state-funded agency; it should not be simply profit-seeking.”