SINGAPORE - A new $20 note that features Singapore's pioneers such as philanthropist Tan Kah Kee and scholar and writer Munshi Abdullah was launched on Wednesday (June 5) by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana's Hari Raya Puasa open house.
The commemorative note, issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to mark Singapore's bicentennial year, depicts Singapore's journey to nationhood.
Like the current series of notes, the $20 commemorative note features a portrait of Singapore's first president Yusof Ishak in front.
But it also features two national monuments, the former Supreme Court and City Hall, which now make up the National Gallery Singapore.
The monuments witnessed key events such as the swearing-in of the state government in 1963 and Singapore's first national day parade in 1966, said MAS.
The back of the note features eight individuals of diverse cultural backgrounds who made significant contributions to nation building in fields such as education, culture, social work, sports and defence.
The portraits of these pioneers are placed against a 'then and now' image of the Singapore River, which depicts the old Singapore River flowing into the present-day river - a symbol of Singapore's development as a trading port and subsequent transformation into a business and financial hub.
"We decided to use $20 notes instead of $200 notes to commemorate the bicentennial so that it would be more affordable for Singaporeans to own a piece of history," said MAS' assistant managing director for finance, risk and currency Bernard Wee, who oversaw the development of the commemorative note.
Munshi was Raffles' secretary, interpreter and Malay tutor who documented aspects of Singapore life after Raffles landed and is regarded as the founder of modern Malay literature, while Tan Kah Kee was a community leader who helped set up schools such as Tao Nan School and Ai Tong School.
The other individuals featured in the note are:
- British botanist Henry Nicholas Ridley, the first director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens from 1888 to 1911
- Philanthropist P. Govindasamy Pillai, who contributed to temple-building and community welfare
- Prominent social worker Teresa Hsu, who founded the Home for the Aged Sick and devoted her life to helping the poor and destitute
- Alice Pennefather, a badminton and tennis champion who won titles at the Singapore National Badminton Championships and Singapore Ladies Tennis Championship
- Adnan Saidi, a lieutenant who led the Malay Regiment in a valiant defence of Bukit Chandu during the Japanese invasion in 1942
- Ruth Wong, a pioneering educator who was the first director of the Institute of Education, now the National Institute of Education
The $20 commemorative note was designed by local artists Eng Siak Loy and Weng Ziyan.
The public can get the commemorative notes at the branches of nine major retail banks from Monday (June 10) by exchanging them at face value.
These banks include DBS Bank/POSB, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation and United Overseas Bank. Each note comes with a specially designed folder, and each individual is allowed to exchange up to 20 pieces of the note per transaction. Two million pieces of the commemorative note will be available.
Also available for purchase are 5,000 limited edition numismatic currency sets. Pre-orders can be placed with The Singapore Mint from Wednesday to June 13, and they will be available for collection from June 20. They will be allocated by balloting if they are oversubscribed.
In conjunction with the bicentennial year, the MAS Gallery, located at the MAS Building in Shenton Way, will also exhibit a collection of rare currency notes and coins that traces Singapore's currency history from the 1800s till today.
The collection includes Straits Settlements currency notes and banana notes introduced during the Japanese Occupation. The permanent exhibition opened in May.