Following a public backlash, the Roads and Traffic Authority has this afternoon backed down from their letter sent to Newcastle lawyer Kristen Perry asking to explain her ‘‘Kiki’’ number plate.
The nickname Kiki, which was given to Mrs Perry before she could even walk, had put her in hot water with the RTA because her number plate also translates into a term for female genitals in the Filipino language of Tagalog.
‘‘The RTA has a responsibility to investigate complaints about personalised plate content, but we recognise that in doing this we must take a common sense approach,’’ a spokeswoman said today.
‘‘We recognise in this case a common sense approach was not adopted and Ms Perry will retain the content of her plates.’’
The nickname is a term of endearment which Mrs Perry said had cemented links with her Greek heritage and first adorned her cars more than five years ago following a loving gift from her husband.
‘‘I rang my father last night and said: ‘Do you know you have been calling me vagina all my life?’,’’ she said.
‘‘He just said ‘What?’ He was appalled.’’
Mrs Perry was left flabbergasted after being sent a ‘‘please explain’’, the RTA threatening to confiscate the number plate if she did not ‘‘show cause’’ within a fortnight.
When questioned by the Newcastle Herald yesterday, an RTA spokeswoman said one person had complained that the plates were insulting to the Filipino language so Mrs Perry and another motorist, who also had ‘‘Kiki’’ featured, were issued notices.
‘‘I have always been called Kiki by my family, many of my friends call me that,’’ Mrs Perry said.
‘‘I think it is just so funny.’’
Mrs Perry said Kiki was a shortening of her name in the Greek language and the number plates were given to her by her husband, Steven, five years ago – first on a Mini before she upgraded to a Porsche.
And she did not take long to reply to the RTA.
‘‘I have never been advised by anyone who speaks the Tagalog language that my name or number plate offends them,’’ she wrote.
‘‘... it has been my name since birth and your letter calling my name ‘offensive’ is disturbing.’’
Mrs Perry said although some parts of the complaint were ‘‘hilarious’’ it was also ‘‘really sad’’ it had reached a stage where her plates could be taken. The RTA spokeswoman said that ‘‘by law, the content of personalised plates must not carry offensive language, religious or sexual content’’.
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
Tagalog is the first language to about one third of the population of The Philippines, including in the capital of Manila, and a second language to most of the rest of the country. Its standardised form, called Filipino, is the national language.