Mr Rockcliffe (SN, Feb 20) is of course right that the conveyancing function of the Deeds Registry is most important and urgent in terms of maintenance and upgrade. Land records and transactions are the basis of civilization ever since mankind started to live together; properly administered, disputes and wars are minimized.
Even before his 1994 coauthored IDB-funded report, I had written an open letter, published in SN, to then Public Service Minister, the late George Fung-On, advising that salaries be upgraded, but only on condition that the workers pass an exam after training by experts (like Mr Rockcliffe) in the system.
This method was to serve as a kind of safety valve for the public by venting into unemployment the friends of the previous regime who had obtained their employment in the public service by cronyism instead of qualification and who had no intention of learning when the opportunity presented itself. It was not foolproof − nothing in human relations ever is − but I do not know that my advice was taken. It seemed to me then that the mischief that would have been caused by allowing those with low salaries to leave because of increased competence and adequately remunerated supervision would be greater than the social ills of the increased unemployment. Subsequent events appear to have proved me right. And such a system can still be implemented while those with Mr Rockcliffe’s abilities grace us.