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A war hero, Singapore River and gold: Details of the bicentennial S$20 note

A war hero, Singapore River and gold: Details of the bicentennial S$20 note

The S$20 Singapore Bicentennial commemorative note features Mr Yusof Ishak, Singapore's first president. (Image: Monetary Authority of Singapore)

SINGAPORE: President Halimah Yacob on Wednesday (Jun 5) launched a S$20 note to commemorate Singapore’s bicentennial. These are some of the special features of the note:

READ: New S$20 note launched to commemorate Singapore’s bicentennial


The note, designed by local artists Mr Eng Siak Loy and Mr Weng Ziyan, represents Singapore's journey to nationhood and pays tribute to the forebears who laid the foundations for modern Singapore. 

The notes features a multi-coloured lattice-work that reflects Singapore’s rich and diverse cultural tapestry.


A portrait of Singapore's first president, Mr Yusof Ishak, is on the front of the note, alongside the former Supreme Court and City Hall.

These two national monuments, which are now the National Gallery Singapore, witnessed many key events in Singapore's history. This includes the swearing-in of the state government in 1963 and Singapore’s first national day parade in 1966.


The back of the S$20 note features eight individuals credited with having contributed significantly to Singapore's nation building. (Image: Monetary Authority of Singapore)

The back of the commemorative note features eight individuals who contributed significantly to Singapore's nation building in various areas such as education and defence.

They are portrayed against the backdrop of the Singapore River flowing into modern day Singapore. The river was at the heart of Singapore’s development as a trading port, and later its transformation into a business and financial hub.

Mr Munshi Abdullah was widely recognised as the “Father of Modern Malay Literature” and had tutored Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in the language, while Mr Henry Nicholas Ridley was the first director of the Singapore Botanic Gardens and credited for establishing Singapore's rubber plantation in time for the rubber boom in the early 1900s.

The note also features Mr Tan Kah Kee, who helped to set up multiple schools such as Tao Nan, Ai Tong and Nanyang Girls’ School and pushed to remove social barriers based on dialect and clanship.

Mr P Govindasamy Pillai, who travelled to Singapore from India in 1905, is a philanthropist who contributed to temple-building and community welfare.

READ: In search of the real Singapore stories, beyond Raffles

Social worker Teresa Hsu Chih is also featured on the note. She devoted her life to helping the poor and destitute, and continued her humanitarian work even after turning 100 years old.

Also on the note is Mrs Alice Pennefather, a Singaporean badminton and tennis champion, who was a strong advocate for sports.

Mr Adnan Saidi, a lieutenant of the Malay Regiment’s 1st Battalion, is also among one of Singapore's pioneers. He is best remembered as a war hero for his patriotism, bravery and determination.

He was entrusted with the defence of Pasir Panjang Ridge, which was the last British bastion before Alexandra. In the Battle for Pasir Panjang in 1942, Adnan motivated his troops to fend off the Japanese although they were outnumbered and undersupplied.

Even after Adnan and his men were overpowered, he resisted heroically and refused to surrender.

Dr Ruth Wong Hie King - the first female principal of the the Teachers’ Training College (now known as the National Institute of Education) - is also part of the list of notable pioneers in Singapore for being a forward-thinking educator.


Who doesn't like gold?

On the commemorative note, the 20 denomination, Singapore Coat of Arms, Singapore bicentennial logo, and the years 1819 and 2019 are all depicted in gold. 


If you are looking to get your hands on these new notes, two million pieces of the currency will be available from Monday (Jun 10) at: DBS Bank/POSB, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, United Overseas Bank, Bank of China, Citibank Singapore, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Maybank, Standard Chartered and The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

Each person is allowed to exchange up to 20 pieces of the note per transaction, and each note will come with a specially designed folder.

A second batch of another two million commemorative notes was released on Sep 16. This time, applications for the notes can only be made online at the MAS portal

READ: MAS launches online application for new batch of Singapore bicentennial S$20 notes

Each note comes with a specially designed folder. (Image: Monetary Authority of Singapore)

If you are not looking to get the note, it will also be on display at the MAS Gallery, together with a first-time exhibition of a collection of rare currency notes and coins that trace the country's currency history from the 1800s to current day.

A close-up of the early currency notes. (Image: Monetary Authority of Singapore)


There will be 5,000 limited edition numismatic sets, with each set comprising an uncut sheet of three S$20 commemorative notes.

Pre-orders for the numismatic sets can be placed with The Singapore Mint from Jun 5 to Jun 13. The currency sets will be allocated by balloting if they are oversubscribed. 

Source: CNA/aa(aj)


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