Under fire, Liow surrenders ‘WWW 15’
KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai today said he is giving up the coveted WWW 15 registration number he had won in a bid last month, whose RM24,200 price triggered public outrage that intensified after it was waived by authorities.
“Let me reassert that I did not bid or tender for WWW 15. Following the proper procedures, my office had requested for the registration number to use for the minister’s official car,” Liow said in a statement today.
“My office received an official letter dated June 6 from the Road Transport Department (RTD) confirming the free registration number.
“As I now know there was bidding for this number, it is only right that I do not exercise my option. The number should go to the highest bidder,” he said in the statement.
The MCA deputy president also told a press conference in the Parliament lobby later that it was not right for him to take the number for free when it could have raised RM24,200 for the government.
“I am very frustrated,” he said when asked if he was disappointed that the RTD did not explain the procedure to him in full.
“I didn’t bid, I didn’t tender. My car number is not important. I only found out someone had bid for it after I came back from overseas,” the Bentong MP added.
Liow was forced to defend himself after it was recently revealed by the RTD on its website that he was among those who had won bids for various registration numbers with the coveted WWW prefix.
WWW 15 is among the vehicle registration numbers in the WWW series that helped bring in some RM12 million for the RTD. An unnamed official previously said that the name listed as the winning bidder — be it an organisation or an individual — would have to pay for the winning bid.
RTD director-general Datuk Solah Mat Hassan said in a statement on June 8 that the department had received an application from Liow to obtain the number for his official car in a letter dated May 14.
“The WWW series registration number booking evaluation committee then decided to offer Liow the WWW15 at the highest bidding price of RM24,200,” he said, adding that Liow had three options in the matter.
“He could get it for free, pay at the highest offered bidding price, or he could also reject the offer,” said Solah.
Solah also said that the names of all successful bidders were made public, in line with the policy of transparency.
Liow had said last week that he was not sure who paid the amount of RM24,200 for the WWW 15 number.
He had confirmed the Ministry of Health did not pay for the bid, but defended himself by saying that the “process (of bidding) was handled by JPJ (RTD).”
Pressed for answers over who paid for the bid, Liow had said, “Not sure, I have to check”.
“All ministers are eligible for one number; I didn’t exercise the option earlier,” Liow had said.
Thousands of people had thronged the three Kuala Lumpur RTD branches to place their bids for the coveted WWW plates.
Liow is the second person to come under public scrutiny after the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Ismail Sultan Iskandar, beat close to 10,000 bidders to win the tender for the vehicle registration number WWW 1, with the record-setting bid of RM520,000.