Sarawak sets new benchmark for property registration
By Clarice Africa11 Nov 2015
The Registering Property indicator – one of 11 indicators highlighted in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report – takes into consideration the time, cost and number of procedures involved in registering property and other land instruments.
In 2012, Malaysia was ranked #62 in this category. A year later, Malaysia jumped to #33 – the biggest improvement in the global list.
What does it take to complete a property transfer in Malaysia? According to findings by doingbusiness.org, registering property there now requires five procedures, takes about 14 days and costs 3.3 per cent of the property value. A significant improvement compared to neighbouring countries where property registration often takes more than 30 days.
While that may be the case in some parts of Malaysia, the State of Sarawak made headlines because of its Land and Survey Information System (LASIS), which managed to drastically shorten the state’s property registration process from one month to a single day.
Milestones in GIS
The successful implementation of LASIS marked a great milestone for the Land and Survey Department, and the State of Sarawak.
It significantly reduced field operations because of the ‘field-to-finish’ survey, whereby computations are completed onsite using ruggedised electronic field books. Furthermore, it also lowered the cost and time of processing land applications.
According to Sr. Zaidi Bin Haji Mahdi, Deputy Director for Operations at the Land and Survey Department in Sarawak, the US$35 million investment is currently being used to maintain up-to-date records of over 950,000 land parcels and provide authoritative land information to more than 3,000 staff.
He explained that its implementation involved two phases. The first phase included the introduction of production systems which catered to the department’s core businesses such as land surveying, maintenance of cadastral maps, registration of titles and land instruments, and the collection of state revenues.
Meanwhile, the second phase enhanced the efficiency in land administration and land management to improve the service delivery of the department. The processing of land application is expedited through breaking down of physical barriers via online digital transmissions and borderless divisions. Because of this, land applications can now be processed and decisions conveyed online without physical documents.
“Since LASIS is being used by other agencies such as the Town and Country Planning, a powerful platform such as Esri’s ArcGIS is crucial so decision makers can seamlessly access our data,” said William Patrick Nyigor, Director of the ICT Unit at the Chief Minister’s Department.
While LASIS primarily caters to the internal processes within the Department, Zaidi’s team took another challenge by leveraging the internet to transform its service delivery. In this aspect, the Land and Survey Department launched five online services under a project called eLASIS.
“eLASIS extends LASIS’ features to serve the general public and professionals via internet-based application systems, and it is foreseen that users would be able to interface with eLASIS via mobile devices such as smartphones, iPads, PDA and web-specific devices under a project called mLASIS,” shared Zaidi.
Key success factor
“The key factor which contributed to the success of LASIS was the tremendous commitment from the top management of the Department,” said Lim Khing Chong, Project Manager at the Land and Survey Department of Sarawak.
“From project conception to testing, the top leaders of the Department were there every step of the way, and the commitment they have for the project trickles down to every member of staff.”
Nyigor added that when senior decision makers know the value of investing in technology and how important having authoritative data is for decision-making, the return potential for any government agency, or state for that matter, can be easily seen through the services it provides and the competitiveness in the local economy.
“In the public sector, you cannot run away from delivering good public service to the people,” commented Zaidi.
“A lot of information is required before policy-makers arrive at decisions crucial for development. As such, GIS plays an important role in helping us and our leaders better understand socio-economic issues and opportunities.”
Because of the project’s success, the former Chief Secretary of the Malaysian Government, Y. Bhg. Tan Sri Mohd. Sidek Haji Hassan, visited the Department a few years ago to have a closer look at LASIS with hopes of having it implemented throughout the whole country.