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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Why is the Sultan so stupid?


Let this be a lesson to all the Rulers. Next time, do not bid for any number, especially number ‘1’. Just make a phone call and you can get that number for free. So many number ‘1’s have been registered to Chinese business tycoons, Malay politicians, etc., and none of them bid or paid for the number. They all got the number free of charge. And all they had to do was to make a phone call.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Raja Petra Kamarudin
I remember back in the early 1990s when Ibrahim Saad, who started his political career as Anwar Ibrahim’s political secretary, was the Deputy Chief Minister of Penang. I met up with him for dinner and he drove up in his official car with the registration number ‘PAK 1’.
Considering that Ibrahim Saad had the ‘normal’ Penang Mamak look, as many Umno Penang people do as well, the ‘PAK 1’ number suited him well. Be warned, though. Do not call someone a ‘Paki’ here in the UK. That would be like calling an Indian a ‘Keling’ back in Malaysia. And in the UK you will be sent to jail for racial slurs, something Ibrahim Ali of Perkasa should learn about.
I know number ‘1’ is difficult to get unless you have political or palace connections. Normally, these numbers are reserved for senior politicians and/or Ministers (if in the Federal Territory) and the Palace (if in states with Rulers). Penang does not have a Ruler, though (it has a Governor), so it is easier to get the number ‘1’ if you are close to the Chief Minister/ Deputy Chief Minister.
I too wanted a number ‘1’ so I asked Ibrahim Saad whether he could arrange it for me. No problem, he replied. So I asked him to arrange ‘PUK 1’ for me.
Unfortunately, that number is not due for some time so I would have to wait a few years. But ‘PUK 1’ is mine, said Ibrahim Saad, when that number comes up for registration. But then Pakatan Rakyat went and kicked Barisan Nasional out of Penang. So I take it I will now have to lobby Lim Guan Eng for that number.
Life was less complicating when you could ‘pull strings’ to get number ‘1’. I remember when ‘BBB 888’ came up for registration and every Chinese millionaire in Malaysia scrambled for that number. Political connections, palace connections, offers of tons of money, etc., were thrown into the ring by those who wanted that number.
‘BBB 888’ is, of course, a Selangor number. So trust me when I say that so many people got in touch with the Selangor palace to try to get that number through the back door.
Finally, the Road Transport Department (RTD) tried to tender out that number. Money was no problem for those who coveted that number. What’s RM88,888 for ‘BBB 888’? Even RM888,888 is a small price to pay for a number which has so much ong. But because of the controversy surrounding that number (so many people wanted it and so many strings were being pulled), the RTD decided to just keep the number and not tender it out.
Actually, ‘WWW 1’ should not have been a controversy at all. All His Highness the Sultan of Johor had to do was to call up Hishammuddin Hussein, who is from Johor, who can then call up his cousin, the Prime Minister, and the RTD could have been instructed to give that number to His Highness.
Unfortunately, His Highness tried to do the correct thing (trying to be too honest or what?). Instead of calling up Hishammuddin who can then have got Najib’s office to issue an instruction to the RTD to give that number to the Sultan, His Highness went and tendered for that number in an open bid. And His Highness’s bid was the highest bid. Hence he got the number.
Let this be a lesson to all the Rulers. Next time, do not bid for any number, especially number ‘1’. Just make a phone call and you can get that number for free. So many number ‘1’s have been registered to Chinese business tycoons, Malay politicians, etc., and none of them bid or paid for the number. They all got the number free of charge. And all they had to do was to make a phone call.
Sometimes Sultans can be so stupid. When they can get it for free they offer to pay more than RM500,000. And because they paid more than RM500,000 it has now become an issue. If they just make a phone call and save that RM500,000 by getting the number free, like how Chinese business tycoons and Malay politicians normally do, then the whole issue would not have been blown out of proportions.
What His Highness the Sultan of Johor failed to realise is that the issue is: he paid more than RM500,000 for ‘WWW 1’. That is the crux of the matter, the more than RM500,000 that he paid for a car registration number. If he had got that number free without paying one sen, then no one would have said anything.
The fact that the Sultan used his own money and not the government’s money, the fact that the Sultan and his son the Crown Prince do not earn any salary and whatever salary they are paid is donated back to the rakyatthrough two foundations, is not the issue.
Nobody said the Sultan used the people’s money to buy the number. Nobody said the taxpayers are paying for the number. What the people are angry about is why waste more than RM500,000 on a car registration number, even if you used your own money and not the taxpayers’ money? It is a total waste of money, as many have argued.
If His Highness had quietly phoned Hishammuddin who in turn could have quietly phoned Najib to quietly give ‘WWW 1’ to the Sultan, no one would have known about it. And there would be no issue of the Sultan wasting more than RM500,000 on a mere car registration number.
In fact, His Highness the Sultan could have done what the late Sultan Ibrahim did. Sultan Ibrahim donated a lot of his personal land to charity and schools, some even prime land in the middle of Johor Baru. Then people would have said what a great Sultan he is, a Sultan who donated a lot to charity.
Hence, His Highness the Sultan of Johor, like all Sultans before this and in all the other states as well, could have got ‘WWW1’ free of charge instead of paying more than RM500,000 for it. Then His Highness could have donated RM1 million to various charities without linking it to ‘WWW 1’. Then the people would have praised His Highness to the sky.
In fact, I do not understand why the Sultan even needs to spend more than RM500,000 of his own money to donate to the Malaysian government for ‘WWW 1’. The Sultan does not need a number plate on his car. He can drive around with ‘DYMM Sultan Johor’ on his car, or ‘I am the Boss’, or ‘Fork with me and you die’, or whatever he wishes. His Highness can also drive around with ‘WWW.Johor’ on his car. No one can stop him from putting whatever he wants on his car and he would not need to pay one sen. So why donate more than RM500,000 to the Malaysian government for’ WWW 1’?
I pun tak paham lah! Kadang-kadang Sultan ni tak betul juga. Boleh dapat free pergi bayar. Buat apa? Sekarang kan dah kecoh?

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