MCA's Deputy President and Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said that he got his favourite number plate "WWW 15" for free from the Road Transport Department.
This, however, contradicted a report by China Press today, which quoted the Federal Territory RTD spokesperson as saying that everyone who bids for the plate numbers needs to pay for them.
He said that ministers can request for number plates for free from the Transport Ministry, but this does not apply for ‘hot numbers’ like the one for which Liow had made a bid.
There is no free lunch in this world. When Liow refused to pay, the government via RTD has to pay through a lost of revenue through another successful bidder. This is what we called an opportunity cost.
The fact is Liow has failed in his capacity to set a good example as a leader to discourage elitism and a waste of public resource on something as useless as an expensive car plate number. Liow should be grateful enough for being assigned an official car for his official use.
To make the matter worse, it is now crucial for Liow and the RTD Director General to explain why the minister is exempted from having to pay for a bid using his personal name? His supporters may say that it is a matter of taking from the right pocket and putting it into the left. It is a question about integrity, consistency and transparency.
Ironically the police was quick to launch an investigation against another politician, standing on the opposite side of the fence, for tweeting to say that it was a waste of public funds to pay RM520k for a number plate. He is now being investigated under the Sedition Act.
If the police continue to act inconsistently, the public may perceive them of harassing a politician not from their preferred camp.
It is best for Liow to stand up and own up to his inconsistency, correct his mistake and move on into the next battle. This is not the time for any members of the ruling regime to be unscrupulous with spending when the majority are suffering from the impending global economic crunch.