Long queues for SG50 commemorative notes

People waiting in line at POSB's Tampines Central branch yesterday to exchange currency notes for the new commemorative SG50 ones. The queue at some places like DBS Bank in Junction 8 was up to six hours long.
People waiting in line at POSB's Tampines Central branch before it opened yesterday to exchange currency notes for the new commemorative SG50 ones. The queue at some places like DBS Bank in Junction 8 was up to six hours long. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Mrs Fiona Quek's first stop on her shopping trip was the DBS Bank branch in Bishan's Junction 8 mall.

But when she realised the waiting time to exchange currency notes for the new commemorative SG50 ones was six hours long, she made a beeline for the banks at Toa Payoh Central instead.

"I decided to come here to try my luck; there are so many banks here - UOB, Maybank, OCBC - I thought the queues would be shorter," said Mrs Quek, who works in finance.

The 45-year-old was among the retirees, housewives, students and professionals who flocked to banks yesterday to get their hands on the limited-edition currency notes.

Their enthusiasm was not marred by the long queues at various outlets, or the presence of typos - the name of Yusof Ishak, Singapore's first president, was misspelt on the notes' packaging and enclosed booklet.

A set of the SG50 commemorative notes comprises one $50 note and five $10 polymer notes of different designs. Each person is entitled to exchange five sets. The Monetary Authority of Singapore is printing 20 million $50 notes and 75 million $10 notes - 15 million of each design.

These were launched on Tuesday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and feature unique designs, including the first National Day Parade in 1966.

Singaporeans are given priority to exchange the notes from yesterday to Sept 30. They will be available to non-Singaporeans from Oct 1.

Many banks, including DBS and United Overseas Bank (UOB), have extended banking hours to cater to the crowd in the days ahead.

Many Singaporeans waiting in line yesterday wanted to pass on the notes to the younger generation - in the hope that they would remember these historic milestones.

"I'm getting five sets, but some I will give away to my daughter and niece," said retiree Foo Han Keow, 72, who was at the POSB branch at Toa Payoh's HDB Hub at 9.15am.

The more than 150 people waiting in line there were given queue numbers and told to come back.

Retiree Alice Liew, 60, waited there for more than three hours, hoping to change $500 - the maximum allowed. She said: "I want to get it as a keepsake. I don't mind the queue; I was expecting to wait. This is only once in 50 years."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2015, with the headline 'Long queues for SG50 commemorative notes'. Print Edition | Subscribe