Commemorative notes launched to mark 50-year currency agreement

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SINGAPORE — Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched commemorative S$50 and B$50 notes yesterday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Singapore-Brunei Currency Interchangeability Agreement. The ceremony, which was held at the Istana, took place during the Sultan’s state visit to Singapore.

One million B$50 and two million S$50 commemorative notes will be available for exchange at face value at banks in Singapore from Friday.

Banks in Singapore and Brunei will distribute a set of two $50 commemorative polymer notes, comprising one B$50 note and one S$50 note. Each set will be accompanied by a complimentary folder.

The participating banks in Singapore are DBS, OCBC, UOB, Maybank, Standard Chartered Bank, HSBC, Citibank, Bank of China and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

A maximum of five commemorative note sets and 10 pieces of S$50 commemorative notes can be exchanged per transaction in Singapore. Additionally, an exclusive collection of five types of limited-edition note sets will be available for sale on The Singapore Mint website.

The notes are jointly designed by Brunei artist Abdul Ajihis Haji Terawih, 49, and local artists Eng Siak Loy, 76, and his son Weng Ziyan, 38. They were approached in late 2015 to embark on the project.

The artists, based in their own countries, discussed ideas for the design through online messaging app Skype.

Mr Ajihis is a renowned oil painter and stamp designer in Brunei, and this is his first notes design for the country, while Mr Eng is known for designing Singapore’s longest-running currency series, the portrait series.

Both the Brunei and Singapore commemorative notes feature the same design elements and layout.

(Above: The commemorative notes for the 50th Anniversary of the Currency Interchangeability Agreement between Brunei Darusallam and Singapore at the Istana on July 5, 2017. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY)

The front of the note depicts the 50th anniversary logo of the agreement.

It features the Simpur, a prominent flower found in Brunei and Singapore’s national flower Vanda Miss Joaquim.

The designers chose the colour of the banknotes — yellowish gold — as it represents the 50 years of collaboration between both countries, Mr Eng said.

The flowers are depicted to be in full bloom, symbolising flourishing ties between the two nations.

On the back of the banknotes are drawings reflecting themes of defence, tourism and education — areas of close cooperation between both countries.

According to the designers, the drawings include elements from both countries, including military personnel and tourist attractions.

At the launch yesterday, PM Lee said: “The currency interchangeability agreement is a hallmark of our long-standing and unique relationship, and this policy of freely convertible currencies has benefited both our economies and our people.”

With no foreign exchange risks and minimised transaction costs, it has facilitated the growth of trade and investment, he said.

Sultan Bolkiah highlighted the foresight of the two countries’ former leaders on the agreement.

“Indeed, the success of this agreement is a tribute to our enduring relationship … it continues to remain relevant in facilitating trade and financial relations between our two nations amid changes in the global landscape,” he said.

Under the agreement, established in 1967, the Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam and the Monetary Authority of Singapore accept from banks the currency notes and coins issued by the other, and exchange them at par and without charge, into their own currency. 

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