KOTA KINABALU August 22, 2011: Though 4 is considered by many Chinese and Japanese as an unlucky number simply because it is pronounced the same as death, the Road Transport Department (RTD/JPJ) expects high bids for the forthcoming vehicle plates bearing the number.
Months before SAB4H and even SAB44H are available for bidding, the RTD has received many calls asking about the numbers, especially SAB4H as it appears like SABAH, according to its State Director Mohd Shuhaili Mohd Taufek.
Not only businesses based in Labuan, Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu have asked about the next numbers but also politicians who are already eyeing SAB4H and SAB44H, he said, adding that SAB4H in particular may create a bid record.
Mohd Shuhaili said the highest successful bid handled by RTD Sabah to date was RM92,000, which was paid by a company based in Labuan.
He said bidding for SAB4H and SAB44H, which are in the vehicle plate number series from SAB1H to SAB9999H, is only expected to open at the earliest in November this year.
He said currently the number series from SB5001B to SB9999B and SAB1B to SAB9999B are open for bidding.
All those who are interested to bid for these numbers could drop their tender documents into the tender box at the RTD Sabah headquarters in Jalan Bundusan.
“You may get the tender forms from any JPJ office or download it from the JPJ website at www.jpj.gov.my,” he said.
“Popular numbers and running numbers would be announced as soon as possible but golden numbers and interesting numbers would depend on approval for the tender from Kuala Lumpur. It’ll be posted at the RTD Sabah headquarters notice board,” he said.
Mohd Shuhaili said many vehicle owners are willing to pay a high price for a popular plate number.
He said most of them are eyeing 8 or combination of 2 and 8, or 3 and 8.
He said while 4 is the most-avoided number, SAB4H and SAB44H are exceptions in that they look like SABAH.
He said people love to have a nice plate number with a special meaning to them, and it can be linked to luck and fortune or even their birth and wedding dates.
A lot of people, especially in Chinese culture, believe some numbers to be auspicious or inauspicious based on the pronunciation for the numbers, he said.
The number 8 in particular is believed to have auspicious meanings because it sounds similar to the word prosper or wealth, he said, adding that this is among the stories he heard from bidders who are willing to spend almost every penny for it.
Mohd Shuhaili said the department has divided plate numbers into golden numbers, interesting numbers, popular numbers and running numbers.
Golden numbers are single digit numbers from one to ten, while interesting numbers are combinations of two numbers or repeating numbers such as 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 28, 33, 38, 55, 66, 77, 88, 99, 111, 222, 333, 555, 666, 777, 888, 999, 1111, 2222, 3333, 5555, 6666, 7777, 8888 and 9999.
Examples of popular numbers are 20, 2020, 7000, 8383, while running numbers are those available anytime based on the current running registration numbers.
The minimum bid for golden numbers is set at RM10,000, while that for interesting numbers is RM2,000 minimum, popular numbers is RM300 and running numbers is RM200.
Bidders must produce their identity cards, copies of business registration if the bids are for company vehicles, copies of registration if the bids are for local organisations, cooperatives, or professional bodies.
Mohd Shuhaili said bidding can be done nationwide, meaning motorists from Peninsular Malaysia can bid for Sabah numbers while Sabahans can bid for numbers in the Peninsular.
He said most motorists in Johor are interested in Sabah numbers because the letter S is similar to that used for Singapore vehicle plate numbers, while Sabahans are bidding for Selangor numbers because they start with B, which is the letter used for Brunei vehicle plate numbers.
Mohd Shuhaili said Kudat plate numbers that start with the prefix ‘SK’ are the slowest running numbers in Sabah, as many Chinese businessman are avoiding it because it translated into ‘sikang’, which means no hope in Hakka.
Only non-Chinese car owners are buying Kudat’s SK numbers while most Chinese there would register their cars in other districts such as Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu, he said.
With the trend of every family in the urban areas having at least two cars, Mohd Shuhaili said RTD Sabah is issuing at least 2,000 driving licenses in a month.
He believed the interest in bidding for numbers will be higher in the future because he can see the younger drivers are starting to eye numbers for their vehicles.