Jokowi’s Cabinet re-shuffle- UKICIS Dr Berry Juliandi analysis
On the 28th of April, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced the inauguration of three recently formed ministries and institutions. Laksana Tri Handoko has been appointed the position of Head of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN). Nadiem Makarim has been appointed Minister of Education, Culture, Research and Technology (Kemdikbud-Ristek). Finally, Bahlil Lahadalia has been appointed Minister of Investment.
The formation of these institutions and ministries has caused some controversy within Indonesia, some academics fear that it may cause challenges in the governance of education and research policy-making. Others claim that this recent merger of Ministry of Research and Technology, is being used to allow for the Ministry of Investment to be formed.
UKICIS Steering Committee Member, Dr Berry Juliandi, Dean of Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at IPB University, has shared his views on the cabinet re-shuffle. Dr Juliandi has expressed his support of Handoko’s appointment as Head of BRIN. Handoko’s previous role as Head of Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), whilst also being a researcher, puts him at an advantage as he can understand issues researchers face today. Moreover, Handoko has political experience from being heavily involved in research policy-making. Scientists often do not understand policy, and policy makers often do not understand the climate and complexities of research; this results in a ‘knowledge-gap’ between scientists and policy makers, making it difficult to pass effective and beneficial legislation. However, Juliandi believes the combination of Handoko’s administrative, scientific and political experience will provide a bridge for the ‘knowledge-gap’ between the two sectors, leading to the success of BRIN.
Nonetheless, it is not to say that BRIN will not face many challenges in the coming months. Academia have concerns of BRIN becoming a ‘super-body’ institution that will interrelate and over-regulate research; consequently, this allows potential for abuse of power and corruption within the body. To avoid this, Juliandi advises that BRIN should commit to becoming the leading research and innovation agency in Indonesia, whilst allowing the Ministry of Education and Culture-Research and Technology to focus on research policy making.
The quality of research used for policy making has been discussed in recent months, with criticisms suggesting a lack of peer-review to assure the authenticity and relevance of research. To mitigate this, Juliandi suggests an independent scientific community can be formed, similar to organisations such as Research Excellence Framework (REF) in the UK. This external body can be used to impartially peer-review research and ensure standards regarding research quality are met. Juliandi also advises that the role of fund management is given to an independent body such as Indonesian Science Fund (DIPI).
Juliandi considers such delegation of roles to be imperative in the improvement of the governance of research, and the success of BRIN as a leading research and innovation agency.