How many of us remember the royalty crisis between the government and the rulers more than twenty years ago when Dr. Mahathir was Prime Minister? During or after the crisis Dr. M instructed the government to only give the rulers the privileges they deserve as accorded in the Constitution, Laws, Ordinances, By-Laws or whatever they are.
It was then realised that there were a few privileges accorded to rulers that were not written anywhere. Among these was the privilege of being given the rights to vehicle registration numbers from 1 to 10 (did it include 11 as well?). As the rulers were not buying or changing ten or eleven cars every time a new number series appeared the special numbers were given to whoever each state ruler pleased. After all the rulers were given chauffeur driven limousines by the federal and state governments at their disposal.
As the rulers' children and in-laws too need not change cars that often, the question was to whom did those single digit and number 10 (and possibly 11) numbers go. The answer was to their majesties' friends or friends of friends. Only a fool would say there were no transactions done between their royal highness's and those being conferred the special numbers. Perhaps the numbers were given to the highest bidders.
But one thing was sure, the government in the form of the Road Transport Department, better known as JPJ did not receive anything for the bidding of numbers 1 to 10 (or 11). Not until Dr. M told them to stop giving the rulers the unwritten privileges.
About eight years ago when I bought my scooter and wanted it to have the same number as my car I went to the bidding section of the Negeri Sembilan JPJ in Seremban. There I saw on a notice board the names of the successful bidders for special numbers in the current series. Their names were shown beside the successfully bid numbers and the amount bid. The total amount bid for the special number series came to hundreds of thousand ringgits.
Suddenly I was thinking before the royalty crisis a big chunk of the money went to somebody's hands. Now all of them were going to the government. Whatever the shortcomings of Dr. Mahathir, if there were any, this is something we should thank him for..
As can be seen from the recent bid for the WWW series not only the royalties not being given special numbers freely, they had to to bid for them as well. As it happened the number WWW 1 was successfully bid by a ruler himself.
We should not question from where his majesty got the money to bid for that number. What is certain now is at least the money goes to the government.