[EDITORIALS]Give Research Institutes a VoiceThe government has touched off public criticism by once again demanding that state-funded research institutes refrain from criticizing its policies. According to materials released Tuesday by Kim Boo-kyum, an opposition Grand National Party lawmaker, an official at the Office for Government Policy Coordination, under the Prime Minister's Office, sent directives to state-financed research organizations, telling them to withhold from "unofficially leaking their research results to the press lest informations out of line with government policies are reported."
Such directives will discourage researchers from voicing their opinions freely, depriving the government of opportunities to revise its wrong policies. Also, they verify concern that state-funded research institutes would be reduced to propaganda agencies for the government. Such concern was raised when the Office of the Prime Minister formed under its supervision a committee in charge of appointing heads of those institutes.
The Office for Government Policy Coodination explained the directives were intended to point out that media reports of policies still in the making may give the impression of policy confusion within the government. The office did not tell them to not make reports critical of the government policies, it added. Nevertheless, the government's explanation is unconvincing because the directives ordered the institutes to "consult" with government ministries before their researchers release results of their studies or contribute to newspapers, according to Representative Kim's materials.
The government must be more careful about making comments about matters related to opinions voiced by experts, particularly at a time when major government policies face fundamental doubt about their credibility and the critical voices of scholars and the press are suspected of being gagged. State-financed research institutions do not exist to applaud government policies or speak for the government. We believe that it is those organizations' duty to help the government draw up - and improve - good policies by studying incessantly and stating their views freely through reports or media contributions.