The revelation that the senior private secretary of ex-Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has asked for the vehicle registration numbers MCA 1 to MCA 9999 in Malacca be reserved for MCA members is clearly a reflection of the high-handed manner a small-time political administrator in the Barisan Nasional abused his little derived authority.
Current Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha has confirmed that such a request was contained in a memorandum dated 17 Feruary 2010 and addressed to Road Transport Department (RTD) director-general Datuk Solah Mat Hassan.
Tee Keat has denied that he had endorsed the memorandum written to the RTD director-general by his private secretary, saying that "I still remember, among the things that came to my attention which I rejected included this memorandum, although I had returned to duty in March after some health problems."
Kong, meanwhile, said that the instruction would be rescinded.
"Nobody can reserve any number for the MCA. It is part of the sequence of the way that the RTD issues the registration number and according to the state," he said.
This ignominious and scandalous incident is certainly more serious and shameful than that of the so-called Support Letters Scandal in Selangor, in which swift and harsh action was taken against the errant municipal councillor by the state government and the DAP.
During the height of the Support Letters Scandal in August 2010, the MCA leaders had showed their self-righteous indignation and wrath against what they claimed was the abuse of power by Selangor state executive councillor Ronnie Liu in allowing his then aide Tee Boon Hock to issue letters of support to companies seeking contract jobs with the local authorities.
In a pace-setting benchmark for political acountability and transparency in the country, the DAP hauled up Ronnie and Tee, both senior leaders in the Selangor DAP, to face the party disciplinary committee over the allegations of corruption in the issuance of support letters to help crony firms gain contracts from the local authorities.
Ronnie was issued a severe reprimand and warning for failure to manage his administrative affairs properly, resulting in the abuse of the support letters. Tee was sacked from the party for abusing the support letters to endorse his son's company. He was also removed as a municipal councillor.
In early September 2010, the DAP also issued an expulsion order on two members — Yap Hock Siew and Ong Chai Huat — for allegedly misusing a support letter for personal gain.
Yap and Ong were found to have committed direct conflict of interest in breach of party discipline when Yap issued a letter of support under the letterhead of the Pandamaran Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) in favour of a business where both of them are partners.
Yap and Ong were respectively chairman and vice-chairman of the Pasar Pandamaran DAP branch at the time of their alleged wrongdoing.
The DAP has shown that it does not condone or tolerate any nonsense and irregularities committed by its leaders and members.
The party has set a very good example of how good governance, with the virtuous moral trinity of competence, accountability and transparency (CAT) principles as its fundamental basis, should be practised, and it is here that the MCA should learn from and emulate the DAP and adopt its exemplary party discipinary model.
Tee Keat should not have just washed his hands off the issue without taking any fast and firm action against his smart alec aide, whose unilateral instruction to the RTD director-general is certainly a gross abuse of the transport minister's office.
It is sad, but true, that we have many such obnoxiously self-assertive and impudent persons, who flexed their muscles and used bullying tactics, in the civil service. It was former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who gave them the notorious name "Little Napoleons".
If the MCA considers the Support Letters Scandal as a serious abuse or even a felonious action, deserving of harsh punishment, then the MCA Vehicle Number Plates Scandal certainly demands more severe castigation.
The MCA leadership should immediately hold a disciplinary hearing on the fiasco, and ask its former president Tee Keat and his aide, if he is a party member, to explain the shameful episode. Appropriate action should be taken if Tee Keat and his aide are found to have abused their office.
The MCA must also apologise to the RTD director-general and the people for the outrageous unilateral proposal to reserve the series of vehicle registration numbers for its members. Even if the instruction has been withdrawn, the intended monopoly is a betrayal of the people's confidence in the government.
By the way, I think it is unnecessary to reserve those vehicle registration numbers as I doubt many people would want to have their cars or motor-cycles bearing those number plates. Also, my sympathy with the car sellers in Malacca. Not many people would want to buy new cars until the "MCA" number series is exhausted!