A new $20 note that features Singapore's pioneers such as philanthropist Tan Kah Kee and scholar and writer Munshi Abdullah was launched by President Halimah Yacob at the Istana's Hari Raya Puasa open house yesterday.
The commemorative note, issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to mark Singapore's bicentennial year, depicts the journey to nationhood.
The $20 commemorative note features a portrait of Singapore's first President Yusof Ishak on the front, as well as 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 various 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've been able to achieve so much primarily because we all stood together and fought as one on all fronts. For us to be able to leapfrog and seek quantum leaps of growth and development, we need to have the same spirit of unity and togetherness," Madam Halimah told reporters yesterday.
MAS' assistant managing director of finance, risk and currency Bernard Wee added that the $20 denomination was used instead of $200 so that it would be more affordable for Singaporeans.
Munshi is regarded as the founder of modern Malay literature and was Stamford Raffles' secretary, interpreter and Malay tutor, while Tan was a community leader who helped set up schools such as Tao Nan School and Ai Tong School.
The other individuals featured 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; and
• Ruth Wong, a pioneering educator who was the first director of the Institute of Education, now the National Institute of Education.
Lawyer and former national hockey player Annabel Pennefather, the granddaughter of Alice Pennefather, said she was proud to see her grandmother's achievements honoured in this way.
"There was nothing that was off-limits to me as a girl, because my grandmother rose to prominence at a time when women were just being accepted in competitive sport... I hope to share my experiences, as well as my grandmother's, with other young athletes in the years ahead," said Ms Pennefather, 70.
The $20 commemorative note was designed by local artists Eng Siak Loy and Weng Ziyan.
Members of the public can get the commemorative notes at the branches of nine major retail banks from next Monday by exchanging them at face value.
These banks include DBS Bank/ POSB, OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank.
Each commemorative 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.