updated 10/15/2006 6:31:04 AM ET 2006-10-15T10:31:04

A man has paid $54,300 for a car license plate bearing his surname, the highest bid in the country for such an item, according to a published report.

The "TAN" license plate went to an ethnic Chinese businessman, identified only as Tan, The Star newspaper reported Friday, quoting Road Transport Department director-general Emran Kadir.

An official at the department's Kuala Lumpur office, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, confirmed the bid.

The Star quoted Emran as saying the three-letter combination in the license plate was followed by a single digit, which further increased the plate's value. The report did not say what the number was.

The first letter on a number plate indicates the state that issues it, and the successful bidder obtained it from Terengganu state. The bidder is not a native of the state, The Star said.

The previous record was set when $45,050 was paid for a plate reading "JJJ1."

Tan is a common surname among Malaysia's minority ethnic Chinese, who make up a quarter of the nation's 26 million citizens.

The Malaysian government does not allow personalized plates, but auctions off license plates bearing specific numbers or letters sought by customers.

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