Monday 4 June 2012

WWW15 profligacy — The Malaysian Insider

JUNE 4 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak brought up a point today that many in Malaysia seem to ignore, that the world is grappling with an economic slowdown for the second time in three years and risks entering a sustained period of economic volatility.

That would explain his Economic Transformation Programme (ETP). That could explain why it will take time for Malaysia to be a high-income nation. That also explains why Cuepacs, the umbrella centre for government unions, have complained about the rising price of housing that has affected the regular civil servant.

But it does not explain why Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai’s officers had to bid RM24,200 on the “WWW15” vehicle registration number for his new official car that will replace his current vehicle.

The simple solution is to keep the existing number, and save the government some money. The Road Transport Department (RTD) allows for registration numbers to be transferred to new cars.

The Chinese media reported today that Liow said the ministry needs to replace the current official car, hence the need to bid for the particular registration number. As to who had paid for the number, the report said he replied, “This is official car... is official.”

The minister justified the purchase, saying that every minister is given an official car, including Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, whose official car carries the “PG1” number plate. Isn’t that an old number, Mr Health Minister?

We hope the minister and his officials know that they are paying for the number with public funds. Public funds, which, as everyone knows, are to be used for public good. Not for a vanity plate or an exclusive number.

And before they spend such money, at least consider the government servants whom Cuepacs say earn about RM3,000 monthly and find it difficult to fork out up to RM1,000 a month for a house that can cost beyond RM180,000 in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru or Penang.

The sum spent on “WWW15” is some government officer’s salary for six months. It is also enough for 48 Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) handouts.

If this isn’t profligacy, what is?

Yes, our ministers might need new cars in which to travel in comfort as they are working for us, but they certainly don’t need vehicle registration numbers, do they?

Or does “WWW15” represent the open-ended question “WWW IS ... a) a waste of money, b) a waste of time, or c) a foolish purchase?”

Whatever it is, the minister and his officials have to account for that money, especially at a time when Malaysians are asked to adjust their lifestyles and watch their pennies while the government works on subsidies to ride out the rough economic times.

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