My husband just came back from Kalimantan in Bornean Indonesia. He took a plane from Banjarmasin to a place with the unlikely name of Slippery Rock (in translation). As the twin-engined prop came in to land, he realised they were coming down on the road…
There was a policeman at either end of the “runway” to stop the traffic. Guess that’s what is known as an economical use of facilities.
And out on the blogs there is some tearing of hair over UK’s plan to introduce ID cards. Can’t be done, say some! Why, every time you lose a card, get married, die, change your name, change your address, get older, etc you have to alter the card…how will the registration offices cope? And how will the guy on the street cope with having to produce the card every time they do something? Reading Charlie’s Diary (Charles Stross the Sf writer), you’d swear they were right. It sounds like an impossible task.
And then you realise, hey, wait a moment. Malaysia does that. In fact, we have just re-done all Identity Cards to go from the old type to the new computer chip “smart” cards for everyone over 12 years old. We have to produce the darn thing to open an account, get a license, buy a house, vote, register for anything at all, go to a hospital, enter a govt office…the list is quite endless. And we do it. It’s second nature.
Over on the horror writer Poppy Z. Brite’s blog (met her at Continuum in Melbourne last year), there’s a look at New Orleans 8 months after Katrina – and it is appalling (see the entry entitled “Not OK” March 31st). This is the USA and they can’t get something as simple as rubbish collection back on track after 8 months? You know what? I don’t think that would happen here. In fact I’m damn sure it wouldn’t, not if so many people were affected so badly. We don’t have the resources of money and facilities that the USA has, but we have something else…not sure what it is. A certain capacity to deal with whatever life throws at us? A better, more workable system of government? Maybe it’s just an absence of Dubya!
You know what? In Asia – for all its chaotic surface – there are times when things get done a damn sight better and/or more quickly that in the western world.