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Vanity plates auction raises B14m



PHUKET CITY: The Phuket Provincial Transport Office (PPTO) held its fourth annual vanity car-registration plate auction over the weekend, raking in 14 million baht from 301 special plates auctioned off at the two-day event.

Bidding kicked off at 9:30 am Saturday in the Phrapitak Grand Ballroom of The Metropole hotel, where a line of professional presenters – attractive young women in revealing outfits – displayed the highly-sought-after plates to registered bidders, including a small number of foreigners.

The event, organized by Punneung Co Ltd, was chaired by Chairat Saguancheu, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Land Transport.

The alphanumeric plates for Phuket in 2008, which bear an image of Laem Phromthep, began with the two Thai letters ก (gor-gai) and ท (tor-tahaan), followed by strings of anywhere from one to four digits.

Before opening the bidding K. Chairat explained that the “กท” series could be considered especially auspicious as “ก” is the first letter in the word gao-na, meaning “progress”. The combination of “ก” with “ท”, the first letter in the words thawee khoon, could spell multiple levels of good luck for those who possess them.

The most highly-sought after plates, for which opening bids were 50,000 baht, were numbers with the same digit four times in succession.

As most bidders were keen believers in Chinese geomancy, the top bid, as expected, was for plate กท 9999.

The winner was local hotel magnate Wanrak Likhidvong, with a high bid of 740,000 baht.

The second highest bid, of 510,000 baht, was placed by businessman Atthapan Poojaroen for กท 8888.

All 301 plates on offer were snatched up by luck- and vanity-seeking bidders.

The lowest bid during the auction, which ended at 3 pm on Sunday, fetched 19,000 baht.

There were 308 registered bidders in this year’s event. Despite reports of a slowdown in the economy, this year’s proceeds of 14 million baht exceeded revenue generated in 2006 and 2007, which saw proceeds of 13.7 million baht and 11.6 million baht, respectively.

The proceeds will go to the Road Safety Fund, with 40% returned to Phuket to fund repair and replacement of road lights, signs and other traffic infrastructure.


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