World Bank report highlights Malaysia’s effective use of ICT and business process re-engineering to transform land administration

Image source: JKPTG or Department of Director General of Lands and Mines (via World Bank report: Enhancing Public Sector Performance: Malaysia’s Experience with Transforming Land Administration

The World Bank has issued a report outlining Malaysia’s Successes and Challenges in Transforming Land Administration. The report, titled Enhancing Public Sector Performance: Malaysia’s Experience with Transforming Land Administration, is part of a series focusing on documenting the lessons from Malaysia for other developing countries in improving their public sector management.

Land policies and land administration services are fundamental for secure land rights, developing land markets and managing land resources in a manner that best contributes to economic growth, efficient public sector service delivery, environmental protection, and social cohesion and security.

However, approximately 70 percent of the world’s population does not have access to affordable land administration systems to secure their property rights. Many governments lack basic land information systems to secure land rights, support private sector development or improve public sector service delivery. Challenges include complexity and costs in establishing comprehensive land records and maps.

The report notes that recent advances in surveying, mapping and ICT technologies have made the task of addressing these challenges easier and cheaper. There are many success stories globally to learn from, but each country and its land tenure system is unique and there is no universal model for land administration. Technical solutions need to be fit-for-purpose and governance of institutions needs to be sound.

Malaysia performs well for land administration globally. It ranks 42 out of 190 jurisdictions in the ease of registering property in the annual World Bank Doing Business ranking, which is a good assessment in relation to other countries in the region. In the Doing Business Report, the ranking for the quality of land administration is also high at 27.5 out of a maximum of 30 points. 

The World Bank believes that innovative and efficient mechanisms to improve land tenure security from peninsular Malaysia can help governments use land as a productive asset.

According to the report, the key factors contributing to Peninsular Malaysia’s success in registering rights are: provision of qualified titles; investment in IT systems; and computerisation of land records. The provision for qualified titles in the National Land Code was followed by a rapid systematic registration process.

Investment in IT systems and business process re-engineering has enabled Malaysia to standardise the procedures to register rights in order to provide more efficient services. The computerisation of land records has provided a basic dataset to support a Malaysian National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and other data analysis applications such as the valuation and taxation of property.

Qualified titles

The introduction of qualified titles, which allows registration without a formal cadastral survey (a cadastre is a register of property showing the extent, value, and ownership of land), helped overcome key constraints, such as the limited number of government and professional surveyors and the perceived high cost of formal surveys. Consequently, a successful initial registration campaign that strengthened land tenure security and facilitated development of the formal land market. Subsequently, the standards and processes for cadastral surveys have been gradually improved and a national program for the conversion of qualified titles to final title has been largely successful.

Business process re-engineering

Business process re-engineering has been essential in improving service delivery. In 2010 a property transfer taking 144 days. JKPTG (Department of Director General of Lands and Mines) entered into a major business process re-engineering exercise. Among the initiatives introduced was the “single piece flow” which was an adaptation of factory production line procedures. The old practice of moving documents in one bundle from one point to another was stopped and a new system introduced to move each application from station to station.

A checklist of relevant documentation was introduced and a public awareness campaign undertaken. In four months the land administration system managed to register 61.12 percent of property transfers on Peninsular Malaysia in 2 days. Improved record handling systems reduced the effort required by staff to access and check archived records. The obligatory use of the Malaysia identity card (MyKad) and thumbprint readers were introduced in all land offices as a means of reducing fraud and forgery.

Investment in IT systems

The report says that ICT tools can be effective in standardising processes, improving service delivery and making spatial and textual data available for broader use in government and society.

For land registers, JKPTG provides oversight for the registration system that is implemented by the State authorities on Peninsular Malaysia. The World Bank report divides the technical evolution of land administration systems in Malaysia into five stages and there is a planned sixth stage. Prior to the 1980s, there was a manual land title registration supported by manual cadastral systems with hardcopy maps and card indices. Computerisation was introduced in the 1980s, with the creation of the first digital cadastral databases, electronic indices and Land Revenue Collection System (SHTB). In 1995, computerised land registration systems (SPTB) were introduced in all State land registries on Peninsular Malaysia.

The early 2000’s saw the introduction of web-enabled land administration systems with the integration of different government functions such as planning, taxation, land development and local government. Examples included e-Cadastre and Modernised Land Administration System (SPPT).  In 2005 a web-based land titles system e-Tanah (e-Land) linking SHTB and CLRS (Computerised Land Registration System) was introduced in Penang, followed by Malacca and planned for expansion in Kuala Lumpur (KL). The next planned stage is the development and implementation of iLand from 2020, as a vision of integrated, spatially enabled land information available on the internet.

CLRS is operating in all State land registries on Peninsular Malaysia. But the system has a number of problems and JKPTG has been promoting the development and implementation of a new digital system called e-Tanah (e-Land) to addresses these issues.

e-Tanah has been developed with a public portal that includes: 1) Customer Service (services and procedures, enquire online, complain, check status and seek help); 2) e-Carian (e-Search) focussed on Private Title Search; and 3) e-Pembayaran (e-Payment) for the payment of quit rent online, uploading of payments to State e-Commerce facilities, processing of credit card payments and checking the status of quit rent payments/arrears.

There will be an internal portal in e-Tanah for the use of officials in undertaking their work. This portal includes: 1) Single Point of Contact for one-stop service centres and core modules; 2) Land Disposal Module; 3) Land Development Module; 4) Land Acquisition Module; 5) Title Registration Module; 6) Strata Title Module; 7) e-Consent Module; 8) Auction Module; 9) Revenue Module; and 10) Enforcement Module.

The key concept behind further development of e-Tanah is to integrate land registry data with other core systems. These systems include e-Kadaster; MyGDI, and e-Stamping, and future enhancements are planned including e-Dealings and e-Lodgements. The software system will also facilitate the integration of the registration data with other key data sets including the national cadastral map series which is maintained federally by JUPEM.
Image source: JKPTG or Department of Director General of Lands and Mines (via World Bank report: Enhancing Public Sector Performance: Malaysia’s Experience with Transforming Land Administration

However, the development of e-Tanah has taken longer than planned and it has not been accepted by all State governments. Although e-Tanah is being developed under the coordination of the National Land Council, States have autonomy in adopting the software. Some States are developing their own, parallel systems with no assurance that the systems are compliant with national standards or allow system interoperability.

In response to the limited success with e-Tanah to date, the Government plans to implement a new e-Tanah pilot in Kuala Lumpur as a model that the other states on Peninsular Malaysia can adopt. Kuala Lumpur is a federal territory where the Federal Government has clear authority for land registration. A new ICT application will be developed with the close interaction with the State governments to ensure that the software system meets the needs of the States and is in a form that can readily be customised. In 2016, the Federal government launched a PPP arrangement for development of the new e-Tanah system.

Public Private Partnership Unit for e-Tanah

In 2016, the Federal government launched a PPP (public private partnership) arrangement for development of the new e-Tanah system. The PPP is structured as a 14-year concession, with the operator having 2 years for system development and 12 years to maintain the system, provide services and make a return on the investment. The Contractor is also providing the hardware and software but the system will be installed in a government data warehouse with a government disaster recovery system.

The contractor is also responsible for converting any paper based records and for regular training and capacity building. The contractor will develop the core system and provide the source code to Government so that the software can then be customised according to the requirements of individual States.

The contractor is also required to update the technology twice over the course of the concession and is required to develop 9 modules based on the competencies of the State land registry: registration, strata, revenue, consent, disposal, development, enforcement, state land acquisition, and auction in case of foreclosure. The mapping system, e-Kadaster, will remain a separate system under JUPEM that will be linked with the new e-Tanah along with other external systems such as inland revenue systems, courts, and bailiffs.

The financing of the PPP is based on an analysis of current transactions and revenue, cash-flow requirements and the lifespan of the ICT investment. The land offices will continue to collect fees from the citizens and the contractor will get payment from the government based on an agreed portion of the transaction fees and a regular fee/title to maintain the data. The Federal Government is covering the cost of the system design. At the end of the concession period the system will be transferred back to Government.

The new e-Tanah database will include the historical land registration data and the data will remain in Government ownership. The system is expected to be piloted in Kuala Lumpur in 2017 and then rolled out to other States, including an upgrade to the existing e-Tanah systems in Penang and Malacca.

National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)

Cadastral surveys are recorded in the national cadastral map series based on the national geodetic datum. JUPEM (Federal Department of Surveying and Mapping) implemented a geodetic adjustment in 2000 and has established a Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS) network with 72 stations that provide Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) data to support a wide range of precise survey and positioning needs and has plans to increase this network. Accurate positioning would be necessary to allow precise measurements for development of the NSDI, spatial data integration and applications such as 3D modelling.

Institutions for NSDI have been established at national and local levels. The Malaysian Centre for Geospatial Data Infrastructure (MaCGDI) was established in 2002, taking over the work of the National Infrastructure for Land Information System (NaLIS).

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) has established the NSDI called MyGDI, with a National Coordinating Committee which reports to the National Land Council and has, under MaCGDI, established a National Geospatial Data Centre (NGDC), State Geospatial Data Centres (SGDCs) and Local Geospatial Data Centres (LGDCs).

MyGDI includes technology, policies, standards and procedures for producing and sharing geospatial data, supported by a strong ICT infrastructure. MyGeoportal allows data producers and users to explore, view, access and evaluate geospatial information through the Metadata Catalogue called MyGDI explorer. The metadata are linked to a map service for visualisation of the geospatial data. The MyGeoportal guidelines and circular letters set out the requirements and procedures for agencies for data sharing and dissemination.

MyGDI activities are undertaken at the national level by MaCGDI, with support from the various technical committees. MaCGDI interacts with MyGDI State Coordinating and Technical Committees which undertake SDI activities at the State level. JUPEM and JKPTG are the two main data providers to MyGDI.

Currently, geospatial data-sharing in Malaysia through MyGDI is limited to government agencies only. Private agencies and the public do not have access to MyGDI, but can request data directly from the relevant agencies. However, Government agencies have cooperated with utility data suppliers (utilities/gas/oil/telecom) to establish standards for utility.

The Malaysia Geospatial Online Services (MyGOS) enables government users to use and share trusted geospatial data, services, and applications within their group of members.

Many professional users outside of government agencies use the MyGeoportal. The 1malaysiamap application enables citizens to search and provide information for points of interest such as shops, restaurants, hotels, and banks.

The use of crowdsourcing or volunteer geographic information (VGI) is increasingly recognised as an important data source for information and the government plans to link the various systems for all public and private users in the future.

The Malaysian government plans to adopt a formal strategy and enact legislation for NSDI. The National Geospatial Master Plan (NGMP), which will set up a 10-year Strategy (2017–2027) for the implementation of NSDI policies, is currently being developed. MaCGDI has shared and discussed the Inception and Interim reports with other Federal and State agencies. A NSDI law is also being drafted and will formalize the structure, functions and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms. The 5-year National Plan (Eleventh Malaysia Plan 2016- 2020) has allocated budget for implementation of the GMP.


The report also recognises some of Malaysia’s challenges. It recommends the avoidance of complex divisions of national and state land registries, and to integrate data systems in order to provide complete and accurate land data to public and private users. If a unified structure does not exist, it is critical to strengthen coordination between agencies and ensure data integration.

Malaysia has a complex national/state division of the cadastre and land registry, due to which it has proven challenging to integrate cadastral and land registry data and systems. The most efficient way to ensure seamless integration is to have a single system for the information under a single authority. In the absence of an integrated institutional structure, a strong coordination mechanism with mandatory compliance for data integration is critical, which has been successfully instituted for Malaysia.

The report also highlights that Malaysia has developed its NSDI over the past decades through guidelines and standards. However, there is still no national NSDI strategy or law (as mentioned above, the Government plans to enact legislation). But this kind of gap can result in discrepancy between the mission of individual agencies and organisations providing geospatial data and national policy objectives.

Read the complete report here.

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