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Comment: The attempt to block the mouths of experts takes Finland to the lines of a totalitarian state – Finland

It is not customary for the government or ministries to try to silence the message of experts, even if it would cause inconvenience to the government, writes news manager Riika Kuuskoski.

Can an expert be an expert or do I have to say what politicians want to communicate to the people?

Has the Director General of the Department of Health and Welfare been interviewed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health for informing the public about the situation of the corona epidemic and views on the measures that the department’s experts believe would be needed to curb the epidemic?

Helsingin Sanomat asked (March 21) the STM’s Chief of Staff Kirsi from Varhila an interview with the CEO of THL To Markku Tervahaud has been held, according to press reports, after THL surprised the ministry by hoping to close bars in the metropolitan area in February.

Varhila replied that it was not an interview but a strictly matter-of-fact calm conversation. “We haven’t spoken to anyone, these are headlines raised by the media.”

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Tar Grave also corrected the word for HS. “Well, I don’t interpret it as an interview. We were informed that the Government was not entirely satisfied. ”

What then is an interview, what is not. Or pressure. If you are told that you were not happy with the output, it sounds like some kind of reproach. It has been heard from within the THL that political steer is now on the move.

It is remembered how THL’s Tar Grave in April recommended the use of a mask, but Varhila acknowledged it as oitis Tervahauta’s own thinking – which is a rather drastic dissent from the head of an expert organization. Would the Director General of the National Institute of Public Health have Jussi Huttunella could I wipe the table the same way?

Also Husin attempts have been made to influence management. IS asked Hus’s CEO From Juha Tuominen at the end of January, whether he had been pressured (IS 30.1.).

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– It is clear that there are actors in this environment with strong views. When we are an expert organization, we need to be independent of even strong pressure. There has been no dispute, but it is clear that there has been dissatisfaction, Tuominen formulated at the time.

Interestingly, THL has taken a more active line in its communication in recent months. In an interview with Helsingin Sanomat, Tervahauta admitted that the department has consciously tried to influence through the public. “You have to seek effectiveness if you feel like things aren’t moving forward. Publicity can boost it, ”he said.

We have a dangerous, even fatal epidemic and we have tax-funded experts who, based on scientific knowledge, form a snapshot, predictions and insights on how to prevent the spread of the disease.

It does not sound like democracy that governments or ministries are trying to silence their message. No, even if it would cause inconvenience to the government either because legislative framework does not tend to implement science-based recommendations or because politicians want to make their decisions on other grounds.

If the Prime Minister stumbles on his administrative stalemate, that is his problem, and that of the rest of the government and perhaps our entire political system, but on that basis, we cannot deny the science-based, best-informed recommendations needed to stifle the epidemic. Let’s be on the lines of a totalitarian state if experts are silenced.

Section 106 of the Standby Act has been introduced, by which the Prime Minister’s Office may manage corona communications. Whether it was decided there to leak information about restrictions on movement to the media and quietly accustom public opinion to them.

The section would allow leaning to discipline the THL, why not hospital districts.

Undersecretary of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Timo Lankinen says in the HS that it is not going to do that now.

“It is good that THL has been active in taking bold initiatives that did not exist before. Personally, I see it as good that the authority has taken on the authority it has. ”

Let’s hope so.

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