Monday, June 1, 2009

Putting the "new economic model" in perspective

All the talk about the new economic model for Malaysia has to be taken with a huge pinch of salt because the desire to take the Malaysian economy to the next few levels up the value chain must be supported by the fulfillment of many assumptions. These assumptions include raising the quality of education, the technical skills of the workforce and, a clear commitment by policy-makers to economic goals.

I don't really want to belabour the obvious deficiencies in the Malaysian system.

Just take some time to read this KPMG report on China's moves towards becoming a global outsourcing giant.

Whatever aspirations that we, in Malaysia, have about tweaking or drastically reforming the economy; whatever socio-political nonsense that is going on on the language of instruction; and, whatever nonsense that is going on in Malaysia - this nonsense needs to be seen in the context of the reality that exists - that, at any level up the value chain that Malaysia aspires to, we need to be able to compete with a behemoth like China.

The tempurung is going to get smaller and smaller. The sooner Malaysians understand this, the better we will all be.

Bumiputras cannot rely on the economic crutch any longer. It is becoming too expensive for a paternalistic government to pay for economic prosthetics. No to mention, politically expensive.

Non-bumiputras cannot continue to rely on utilising Bumiputra know-who to secure business opportunities.

This modus operandi that has subsisted for 40 years has made Malaysians, Bumiputra and non-Bumiputra, flabby and lazy, mentally and physically.

Read the KPMG report which describes China's ascendancy in the global outsourcing market. It's not just in manufacturing. It's also in high-end, high value-added industries like IT. In every segment that Malaysia dares to imagine our new economic model to be in, countries like China are offering a bigger bang for the buck.

There is no room for rent-seeking behaviour in that context. That means the greatest skill of Malaysians over the past 40 years has become completely obsolete.

It's time to learn new skills. It's time to study hard. It's time to stop arguing. Time to stop talking. Time to start doing.


walla said...

You turn on the tv and the first thing you hear is the commentator saying that our national sprint record for 200 metres hasn't been broken in 40 years.

So we have a problem in sports management too.

It's turning out to be all about management. And the biggest mismanagement has been in our human resource.

When we think of that, it's all we really have. Not the plantations or oil or land or even the incentives we give to foreign investors who now have other riper choices to park their technologies and make their profits. Their last words were to ask us what we have really been doing all these years to develop our human resource.

That question has been answered time and again by our government but the answer has only been to shiok ourselves without any palpable justification.

Developing human resource is not about numbers on an annual report of a ministry or photos in a glossy brochure. It's all about putting the wow factor between the ears of millions. If we make, we must have techno-fascinators and tinkerers at the level of a Tesla. If we plant, we must have mendelian experts. If we build, we must have the engineers of the pyramids. And if we trade, we must have people who can sell not only snow but also popsicles to eskimos.

We don't because we were just paying lip service year after year.

India has been at the forefront of the global outsourcing movement. Its endgame is to make that country the world's brain-source, just as Mexico has become the world's factory on price. China has been at the wavefront of the global techno-manufacturing movement, rocketing on a wider and more multi-pronged track than Japan in the last century. Its endgame is to infuse value into everything it makes and services at the fastest pace in the world, making up for lost time not to compete with others but to reclaim its past eminence as once the richest nation on earth. If technology be the tool, so it be assimilated. If the arts be the tool, they can be equally precise and artistic, as you can guess just by holding up one of those remarkable hand-cut papers.

walla said...

The future of the world will thus see a new balancing of power polarities.

The US will still maintain some lead in every aspect of innovation and creativity. It has melded ideas, thoughts, entrepreneurship and vision of all its immigrants and locals into a can-do, cutting edge, constantly spinning, test-bed. Its major strength in research institutions which continue to act as magnets to the best brains of the world will ensure that it continues to maintain momentum, just as its ultra-strong venture funding will build commercial capacity quickly, decisively and competitively.

Not to be left behind will be a new Europe which will tap the anglo-saxon bridge from the UK to the US, and the imperial powerhouse that Germany will always be from a mixture of teutonic efficiency and precision of thought, combining those with the highly marketable styles of France and Italy, the high patency and private wealth rates of the Swiss, and the solid high-tech focus of the Scandinavian countries, all delivering cross-border influence on a re-emerging low-cost East Europe that adjoins the empire of resource-rich Russia.

But it will be Asia which will focus and factor more in this century because there will be increasing interaction and thus coherence between the three mono-cultured countries of China, Japan and Korea in East Asia. Combined with a growing and dynamic India in South Asia and a more confident Russia up north with Brazil as leader of the South American bloc, you will have a global force that is the BRIC. By sheer size of population and land mass, they may even use a new trading currency.

In this new century, things are going to get more molecularized and automated, ideas deeper, richer and more fertile, speed of execution even more accelerative, spinning of new business models more efficient and yield-generating. After all, new generations are emerging whose minds have already been webified from day one to cut the chase, get the results and build new paths towards new instant gratifications that spell innovation in experiencing a world that's faster pacing as much faster paced.

Recognizing the increasing integration and tightness of commingled relationships, the key question on everyone's lips will be:

'how can we benefit each other to a multitude of flexible objectives and targets while constantly improving 24x7 our individual capabilities, capacities and competencies?'

We can also ask ourselves that question. But before we do that, we will have to be brutally candid with ourselves. And ask, and then answer, one question:

'How can we fit into all this?'

One suspects that right now everyone we know is thinking we are no closer to finding our answer to these questions as we were

forty years ago.

flyer168 said...

De minimis,

This nation & its downtrodden rayaat share your despair....

Let us show them UMNO/BN Leaders & their Mercenary Goons what they are really made of....

A frank discourse by a bumiputra of Malaysia.



*The writer is a nephew of Dr Mahathir.

Singapore's Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew, who was Singapore 's founding father, has always been very direct in his comments. This was the man who outsmarted the communists in Singapore (with the innocent help of Malaya then and the willing help of the British) and who later outwitted the British and outpaced Malaysia in all spheres.

Singapore practices corrupt-free meritocracy and Malaysia affirmative action. The former attracted all the best brains and the latter chased out all the brains.

The Singapore cabinet consists of dedicated and intelligent technocrats whereas Malaysia has one of the most unwieldy cabinets. Not only that, brain wise it was below par not even good for the kampong.

With that kind of composition, one that is very brainy, naturally Singapore , with no natural resources could outstrip Malaysia in every aspect of development.

Malaysia , on the other hand, was too much preoccupied with its Malayness and the illusory 'Ketuanan Melayu' and was also more interested in useless mega iconic development rather than real social and economic development.

Whenever Kuan Yew utters anything that deemed to be a slight on Malaysia , voices were raised admonishing him. Malaysia would never dare to face reality.

That Singapore had shown that it could survive was a slap on those who believed that Singapore would fold up once it left Malaysia.

Therefore it was natural that these doomsayers would try to rationalise their utterances to be in their favour to combat on whatever Kuan Yew commented. Its political jealousy.

Singapore achieved its development status without any fanfare. But here in Malaysia , a development that was deceptive was proclaimed as having achieved development status. It was trumpeted as an achievement that befits first world status. This was self delusion.

Malaysians are led to believe into a make believe world, a dream world. The leaders who themselves tend to believe in their own fabricated world did not realise the people were not taken in by this kind of illusion.

Lee Kuan Yew believed in calling a spade a spade. I was there in Singapore when the People's Action Party won the elections in 1959. He was forthright in his briefing to party members as to what was expected of them and what Singapore would face in the future. Ideologically, I did not agree with him.

We in the University of Malaya Socialist Club had a different interpretation of socialist reconstruction. But he was a pragmatist and wanted to bring development and welfare to the Singaporeans. Well! He succeeded.

Malaysia was so much embroiled in racial politics and due to the fear of losing political power, all actions taken by the main party in power was never targeted towards bringing wealth to all. Wealth was distributed to the chosen few only. They were the cronies and the backers of the party leadership to perpetuate their own selfish ends.

Seeing the efficiency and the progress achieved by Singapore caused the Malaysian leadership to suffer from an inferiority complex. That Malaysia should suffer from this complex was of its own making.

In a recent interview, Kuan Yew said that Malaysia could have done better if only it treated its minority Chinese and Indian population fairly.

Instead they were completely marginalised and many of the best brains left the country in drove.


flyer168 said...


De minimis,

He added that Singapore was a standing indictment to what Malaysia could have done differently. He just hit the nail right there on the head.

Malaysia recently celebrated its 50th year of independence with a bagful of uncertainties. The racial divide has become more acute. The number of Malay graduates unemployed is on the increase. And this aspect can be very explosive. But sad to see that no positive actions have been taken to address these social ills.

Various excuses were given by Malaysian leaders why Singapore had far outstripped Malaysia in all aspects of social and economic advancement.

Singapore was small, they nationalised and therefore easy to manage. Singapore was not a state but merely an island.

There was one other aspect that Malaysia practises and that is to politicise all aspects of life. All government organs and machinery were 'UMNO-ised'. This was to ensure that the party will remain in power. Thus there was this misconception by the instruments of government as to what national interest is and what UMNO vested interest is.

UMNO vested interest only benefited a few and not the whole nation. But due to the UMNO-isation of the various instruments of government, the country under the present administration had equated UMNO vested interest as being that of national interest.

Thus development became an avenue of making money and not for the benefit of the people.

The fight against corruption took a back seat. Transparency was put on hold. And the instruments of government took it to be of national interest to cater to the vested interest of UMNO.

Enforcement of various enactments and laws was selective. Thus a 'palace' in Kelang, APs cronies and close-one-eye umno MPs could exist without proper procedure. Corruption infested all govt departments, the worse is the police and lately even in the judiciary.

Singapore did not politicise its instruments of government. If ever politicisation took place, it is guided by national interest. To be efficient and to be the best in the region was of paramount importance.

Thus all the elements like corruption, lackadaisical attitude towards work and other black elements, which would retard such an aim, were eliminated.

Singapore naturally had placed the right priority in it's pursuit to achieve what is best for its people. This is the major difference between these two independent countries.

Malaysia in its various attempts to cover up its failures embarked on several diversions. It wanted its citizens to be proud that the country had the tallest twin- tower in the world, although the structure was designed and built by foreigners.

Its now a white-elephant wasting away. It achieved in sending a man into space at an exorbitant price. For what purpose? These are what the Malays of old would say "menang sorak" (hollow victories).

It should be realised that administering a country can be likened to managing a corporate entity.

If the management is efficient and dedicated and know what they are doing, the company will prosper...

The reverse will be if the management is poor and bad. The company will go bust.


flyer168 said...


De minimis,

There are five countries around this region. There is Malaysia , and then Indonesia . To the east there is the Philippines and then there is that small enclave called the Sultanate of Brunei.

All these four countries have abundance of natural resources but none can lay claim to have used all these resources to benefit the people.

Poverty was rampant and independence had not brought in any significant benefits to the people.

But tiny Singapore without any resources at all managed to bring development to its citizens.

It had one of the best public MRT transport systems and airlines in the world and it is a very clean city state.

Their universities, health care, ports are among the best in the world.

It is impossible to compare what Singapore has achieved to what all these four countries had so far achieved.

It was actually poor management and corruption, and nothing more. Everything is done for the vested interest of the few.

Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines and the Sultanate of Brunei need good management teams. They would not be able to do this on their own steam.

I would advise that they call on Kuan Yew to show them what good governance is.

Why look East to Japan when it is just next door across the causeway. Unquote.

I hope this explains it all.


etheorist said...

de minimis,

Indeed, but let me add one point:

Let not the "New Economic Model" be the "New Economic Policy" version 2 where it becomes a national past-time to undo the well-to-do.

The focus should be on inidividual and personal liberty - from which myriads things arise.

We should build confidence, not prejudice.

kuldeep said...

We tend to under estimate the pool of knowledge and experience we have..we being the government,the planners and the general public.

We have the skills and capability to do major infrastructure projects but unfortunately the government is conned into believing that the foreigners are bringing new technologies.

As the decision makers are essentially third rate generalists and economist,their inferiority complex materialises to their silent adulation of their genre who made it to OxCam.
But in this day and age,those skills,thought processes and training is eclipsed by the more creative and OOB technical wizardry and cognitive sciences.

So,we have third rate minds managing second rate minds...and that will just nurture the fifth rate minds of 3 plus 2.

So our Malaysia leaders believes talking consultant goobledook and KPIs are all you need to save the world.

Wonder if there is 1Google and if Apple got KPIs?Most probably there is 1GM and KPIs for Lehman Brothers.

So friends..get to ground up bureaucracies..less focus on the buildings ,more on the contents...and software before ur eBook.

No more PCs purchases for next 2 years..use wat we source,homegrown and modular stuff.

Construction...focus on strengthening the supply chain not the main con (who is just an assembler).

Campuses...use more new grandiose buildings BUT increase function to allow more student intake.Instead of spending on CAPEX..get better lecturers,pay them more,use creative teaching methods..SS15 SubangJaya..just a collection of shops have educated more people than Tronoh.

Schools..teach any way you want but please remember that these are the formative years...educationalists>>wat do u want to achieve?brilliant students who can't get jobs or stupid children who ends up as a Minister?
NO--we want students who can think,communicate,spell and can do lot more mental arithmetics.

It goes on..nothing fancy:just simple home brew remedies.

hishamh said...

Gosh, I go on holiday for a few days and so many interesting discussions going on!

My ex-boss, a man I deeply admire, and as it so happens a scion of the Perak royal family, once told a class of MBA students, "Our universities are turning out people who can't read, can't write, can't speak, and won't listen!"

I've met and talked to many in our PLCs and GLCs and the same criticism turns up, no matter if the speaker is Malay, Chinese, or Indian, if not put in quite an acerbic manner.

It used to be that having an undergraduate degree meant something; now it seems that even graduate degrees are a shaky indicator of the capability of an individual. It seems that the push to put more Malays through university has done nothing but devalue the meaning of a university degree.


I'm going to take a good hard look at Singapore's development model, and I'll let you know what I think. While there are many things we would do well to emulate (meritocracy! public accountability!) there are also some vulnerabilities which we should also avoid. I think they've been to dependent on the finance sector for growth in the last few years.


kuldeep has a valid point - let's not wave the flag of surrender before we even begin. If we believe no change can come, no change will come.

de minimis,

One thing that's been in the forefront of my mind since the public "debate" over a new economic model began is the principle of "comparative advantage". We don't have to be better than everyone else to be able to compete and thrive, nor do we have to be particularly good at anything at all.

China and India may be the absolute world best at what they do - but that means their resources will be best put to use in doing those particular things. That means that there are other things we can produce or provide service for that, while uncompetitive on an absolute basis still makes sense on a relative basis.

But you're right - any long term increase in social welfare must necessarily begin by removing the subsidy and rentier mentality of Malay(sian)s. And stop treating our best citizens as second class.

walla said...


Good to read your thoughts.

What you've said has been said by many others even some twenty years ago. The ongoing problems have just been given new cloaks and spins.

Take the KT stadium roof collapse. What was the immediate side-tracking response? "Let the state government investigate" was the best answer given. Would you for one believe that the problem didn't in the first place come from the state government which had issued the overblown contract? So how can they be depended to give an impartial investigation. More likely a cover-up, wouldn't you think so?

All the beliefs in change will nary a use if there is no top-down will to push through genuine and concrete reforms.

I hate to say this but when you can't find a single thing done enduringly right for internal reasons, then you will have to conclude any changes won't be coming from the same lot of people who have run this country, to the ground.

Even some of the more educated comments made in various blogs that are supposedly to reflect the mainstream intelligentsia of this country have that tendency to skirt around the critical issues once all has been revealed on the type of mismanagement, misappropriations and misjustices done in the name of whatever's the prevailing platform.

Why can't the platform be just doing the right thing? For once?

Over to you.

hishamh said...

For all the things that go wrong in this country, do we notice the many things that have been done right? How bad is government service today compared to even ten years ago? Twenty?

I remember when submitting your income tax was a day long event - now everything is online. The level of service we receive today is miles better than it used to be.

Have mistakes, malfeasance, and outright incompetence occurred? Of course - and as citizens we have the right to see our tax dollars being used effectively and efficiently. And that the government takes the care and forethought required in providing us the services they are responsible for.

I'm thinking that it is the scale of the c*ckups we have today which have seized everyone's attention and opprobrium. While I will not become an apologist for the current system and those who run it, I also recognise that the problems we have will not be overcome overnight. And I also acknowledge that whatever the government does or policies it pursues, no matter how much in the right, somebody will be unhappy. It took an awful lot of political bravery to raise petrol prices over the last couple of years, even when (in my opinion) it was the absolute right thing to do.

I suspect that substantive change will only come over a generational span, when the children we have brought up to respect civic accountability and responsibility are in a position to lead and execute. I don't hold out hope that I will see this in my lifetime - but that doesn't absolve me from doing the little I can.

Perhaps this is because I do not see this as purely a leadership or a management issue per se. I have worked in too many hierarchies and been involved in too many strategy implementation programs to be overly confident in the efficacy of a top-down approach. To create a culture of competence and accountability requires the willing adherence of everyone down the line, from the PM down to the lowly (but powerful) clerk at the local land office. In short, change management is only successful when it is both top-down as well as bottom-up.

I do not see Najib’s concept of 1Malaysia or the implementation of KPIs as being a cure-all, but they are at least the first baby steps to a government that we can rely on.

de minimis said...

Bro hishamh

I am pretty much in agreement with you. Sometimes its about whether the glass is half-full or half-empty. That's a matter of perception.

As the Frost poem "An Evening By The Woods" goes:

The woods are lovely dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

kuldeep said...

My take is there is a perception gap of our capabilities and capacity>>the government oversells whereas the public undersells.

We reckon the grass is greener in the neighbourhood and simplify the reasons to NEP,cronyism,corruption and poor governance.And it does not help too much when the government tells us how much we have achieved,best cabin crew,the cheapest utility rates,best highways,19% drop in crime..

The constant reminder by the opposition of the issues continues to undermine our confidence.It may be a positive but in the short term its creating uncertainties and doubts on our own abilities.

I think we and the government should all take a step back and start smelling the flowers.Lets be truthful and open.

There are a lot of positives within the country.There is also lots of skeletons that needs to be given the final burial.

Lets start on a clean slate.There is no win for everyone but if we go on this way unchecked,all of us will end up as losers.

In the early nineties we had much more belief in ourselves.We created a collective focus that frees the minds and escalate the momentum to perform.Along the way,obviously,there will excesses and wrong decisions but nevertheless pn a net basis we have highways,mass transits,power plants,better utilities and a vibrant financial system.

Its not perfect,its still a work in progress but we were learning fast.

Then came Badawi..GLCs..4th Floor..
it was a 5 year blur.
Lets revive by taking a step back.

walla said...

Very soothing. Until one tries to apply the method of comparative advantage to the dilemma of defining progress by the half empty or half full glass.

Let's say the comparative advantage is not just about what we can do comparatively better in our small-scaled way but also how we have administrated in comparable ways. If we for instance compare the implementation of online tax returns to Singapore, they will raise an eyebrow as to what's the big deal if one finally does it almost thirty years after e-commerce had ushered. If we compare that achievement against other neighbours like Thailand, Indonesia and maybe Laos, Cambodia, then we can say the glass is half full. The question is do we compare up or down, especially when many Singaporeans were also Malaysians, let alone that drop having started its nation building without resources and without being the centre of administration of the whole federation before?

In other words, what is the raison d'etre that can be rebranded as the motive force for strategic change management that will create real reforms in order to effect tangible and relevant transformation?

Second, that powerful clerk in the land office who personifies the need for a more bottom-up approach to filling the glass. If after fifty years of independent nation-building and billions spent a department which is at the forefront of approving organized land development is dependent on a counter clerk to lubricate the process, then doesn't that say something about management, organization and strategic development of a nation, to wit some noticeably recurring level of top-down dereliction? So that seems to ask as well - if there is already entrenched dereliction from top-down, how will it become the unstoppable force to change the immovable object that is bottom-up, especially when there is still 'saya yang mengikut perintah' all over? The question really is: 'mengikut perintah siapa?'.

Third, civic accountability and responsibility in the young to build the foundation of national change. Can we start by allowing them to light candles peaceably in solidarity with causes that also seem to echo the need for greater accountability and responsibility?

Fourth, generational spans. I don't think anyone reading this blog won't voluntarily put in equal measures of effort to help progress our country. The individual effort and help is a given. After all when one gingerly computes real productive lifetime, that's just about 12 years in aggregate. The question is will they be hitting brick walls because in depending upon generational spans for evolutionary progress rates, the whole country misses the point that what is really needed as panache are revolutionary progress rates? And that's because every other country you care to name is achieving its own comparative evolutionary progress rate. So that to achieve revolutionary progress rate, we need embedded learning curves, connected vision and tangible motivation. Because these assemble how to do things at maximum efficiency using minimum price-escalating resources.

walla said...

Do we have them? And since this is a networked world, do we have them enough to apply across companies, institutions, organizations?

Even within a department i am sure you will find that things are stonewalled by artificially constructed firewalls that would fail the commonsense stress test, let alone the commongood objective. Files get relocated, for instance. So how can the new learn enough from the old not to repeat the mistake of ordering a RM53,000 washroom, that is if the new still remember what had happened to the RM1 million public one that was launched with much fanfare not too long ago?

Let's draw an arc over the whole matter. What do we all want? Progress. How do we achieve that knowing the precarious dis-competitive situation we are in right now? Look for comparable advantages. How do we foist comparable advantages programs quickly? Top-down. How do we accelerate beyond other players in the market? Bottom-up teamwork. How do we achieve that bottom-up teamwork? Change management. Who will initiate change management? Top. What will be needed for the top to initiate change management? Bottom to know the real situation. Who will release the data to the bottom? Top. Will the top release the data to the bottom? Only if it is prepared to risk ejection. Is anyone in the top prepared to risk ejection? No. Conclusion? status quo.

Then someone will say - the situation is really not that bad, the glass is half-full. We still have a roof over our heads. There's still potable water somewhere. The roads may be potholed but the suspensions for local cars are still affordable compared to those of a jag. And when the tolled roads are jammed up, that's a reflection of a booming economy. Besides transparent management. That's management which is so transparent it is nowhere in sight....

If we look back these past fifty years, the one thing that stands out is that it takes a helluva lot to get even the smallest things done. Lot of pain, anxiety, re-do's, learning, forgeting, repeating, wrong paths, repeated wrong paths... Is that what we want for the next generations? Have we asked ourselves with the gravest honesty whether enough has been done to avert such repetitive situations? Are people really aware of the real situation before us where so many industries have already attenuated? What is it we still make well that sells well that earns superbly? And are our young who will be spanning the next generations equipped up there to practice self-reliance when they get thrown into the world of work, the global one that has arrived inside our market whether we like it or not?

It's like our turn to throw the card. We know there's only a forty percent chance of acing the situation. Do we say throw it because there is nothing else we can do?

Or do we go to another table and start the game afresh?

(not a good example because i don't gamble).

It's important because for every second we debate, someone out there at the bottom faces the same type of suffering many of us have been acquainted with. The same learning curve of life.

(deminimis, i hope i haven't made too many iconoclastic statements here; just some borborygmus, you know).

Anonymous said...

walla said>>

"Would you for one believe that the problem didn't in the first place come from the state government which had issued the overblown contract?"

walla,Its not an overblown contract;it was won in a competitive bid.

The exact reason for the roof collapse have not been ascertained>>was it technical?faulty construction?force majeure.To put it into perspective Wembley stadium had a roof collapse.And there have been similar incidences in Germany,USA..

The committee will include Niosh,JKR and possibly some reps from academia.I share your concern that the study will be moderated and I hope there will be some lessons learnt and archived for future reference unlike the MRR2 incidence.

walla said...

thanks for the heads up, anon 12.48.

i do stand corrected.

but also hope they will quickly stress test the Mosque.

Anonymous said...

Been in development business for a long time >> really have not had too much complaints about land clerks.They might not have the American fast food approach,may look glum and forbidding most times but in general they do what they're supposed to do;one have to be a bit patient.Obviously,it would help a lot if the "pegawai" do more walkabouts,motivating their units.It will help even more if they have a good online info system,RFID tracking as such.

The big issue I have with land office is trying to understand why some of my competitors seem to get better terms than mine...but thats another issue.

To be fair government spending quite a lot on computerisation and given another 10 years we will be really on the mark.And by then the current new hires will be in the "pegawai" bracket too.Thus,it will be good to spend a bit on people developing them in tandem with new systems.

The civil service has weaknesses but its not too difficult to resolve.The bigger problem is the quality of the Ministers and thats a tough one.

de minimis said...

Anon 4:54

I agree. My experience with counter-clerks is precisely like that. You've really got to see them as individuals. They've got some issues too. Not the least of which is a droning and repetitive job scope. Give them a smile and speak politely and even the most intractable issues can be overcome. I find that oftentimes issues that go beyond the routine generates a defensive reaction on their part. But a gentle word with a sheepish grin can really be a balm that will melt the red tape. Call me a softie, I don't care. It gets the job done and, it makes the counter-clerk happy. No complaints there :D

hishamh said...


Thanks for your insight. I've always taken it for granted that land offices were probably the most venal of government departments (with the probable exception of customs).

The problem as I understand it (I've got a lot of lawyer friends), is that land is a state responsiblity not federal. That means the legal framework, practices, and procedures can and do differ substantially between states. Having control and disposition over a scarce and valuable resource also means the scope and potential for corruption is that much higher.

If this situation has improved over the years, then I am guilty of misrepresentation, and hereby duly apologise to the hard-working officers and staff of our local land offices.

I still do think that land law reform is past due, if only to resolve some of the absolutely crazy demarcations and inconsistencies.