The bright yellow Simpur flower beloved in Brunei, and Singapore’s national flower Vanda Miss Joaquim, will grace the face of special edition $50 notes that mark a milestone in the relationship between the two countries.

The set of two commemorative polymer notes – a Brunei $50 bill and a Singapore $50 one – was launched at the Istana yesterday by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who is in town for a two-day state visit.

The leaders marked the golden jubilee of an agreement that allows both countries to accept the currency issued by the other.

PM Lee called the Currency Interchangeability Agreement a hallmark of the longstanding and unique ties between the two nations, while the Sultan said its success is a tribute to the countries’ enduring friendship.

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In the evening, President Tony Tan Keng Yam too spoke warmly of the deep ties between Brunei and Singapore.

At a state banquet hosted in honour of the Sultan and his wife, Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, Dr Tan noted that as the smallest countries in Asean, both share a similar outlook. “Our two countries understand each other’s priorities in an innate way that larger countries cannot… and have always readily assisted each other to overcome our common challenges,” he said.

They work together well in Asean and other groups, and share mutual interests like free and open trade. And amid rapid global changes, the strong ties between Brunei and Singapore will remain a constant, said Dr Tan, as he highlighted their historically close defence ties and regular youth exchanges .

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean is set to lead a delegation of Singapore’s young leaders to Brunei later this year for the fifth Young Leaders’ Programme. And 13 Sultan’s Scholars, among Brunei’s best and brightest, here on a study trip, were at the state banquet.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam last night hosted a state banquet at the Istana for Brunei Sultan Hassan Bolkiah, who is in Singapore on a two-day state visit. The visit also marks the golden jubilee of a currency agreement between Brunei and Singapore. Yesterday, Sultan Bolkiah and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also launched special edition $50 notes to celebrate this milestone, and jointly opened an exhibition showcasing the deep friendship and diplomatic relations between both countries through artefacts, stamps and other philatelic materials. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM


Our two countries understand each other’s priorities in an innate way that larger countries cannot… and have always readily assisted each other to overcome our common challenges.

PRESIDENT TONY TAN KENG YAM, on how, as the smallest countries in Asean, Singapore and Brunei share a similar outlook.

In his speech, Sultan Bolkiah noted the wide-ranging areas of cooperation between both countries, and identified the agribusiness industry as a potential sector for further collaboration.

He also expressed Brunei’s support for Singapore when it assumes the Asean chairmanship next year.

Dr Tan said the currency pact, which went into effect in June 1967, is an important symbol of trust between Singapore and Brunei. It has stabilised the monetary systems of both countries, and facilitated the mutually beneficial flow of investment, people, goods and services.

He cited Singapore company, Apollo Aquaculture Group – which this year set up a joint venture to build Brunei’s first vertical land- based aquaculture farm – as one of the pact’s beneficiaries.

Sultan Bolkiah said the agreement remains relevant in facilitating trade and financial relations between Singapore and Brunei, amid changes in the global landscape.

“It is our duty to nurture our relationship in the years ahead. I am pleased to see our monetary authorities are exploring deeper collaboration to enhance the synergies between our financial systems.”

He hoped the pact’s 50th anniversary would provide further stability and growth, while reinforcing confidence in both nations’ currencies.

The special bills, jointly designed by Mr Abdul Ajihis Haji Terawih from Brunei and Singapore artists Eng Siak Loy and Weng Ziyan, pay tribute to the ties between both countries. Besides the two flowers, the bills feature, for instance, military personnel from both nations.

PM Lee noted that since limited edition notes for the pact’s 40th anniversary were issued 10 years ago, the bilateral flow of Brunei and Singapore dollars has doubled.

There will be more milestone anniversaries of the agreement to celebrate, he added, wondering: “What face value should the commemorative notes be the next time?”

“You don’t often have a $60 bill, but that is an idea for our officials to think about,” he said. “They have 10 years to solve this problem and that will help our relationship and friendship endure and continue to blossom for generations to come.”

The Sultan began his state visit yesterday with a ceremonial welcome before he met President Tan.

Sultan Bolkiah also had a four-eyes meeting with PM Lee, where they both reaffirmed the special and close bilateral relationship and discussed regional developments.

They agreed to keep up regular exchanges, including strengthening ties between the next-generation leadership, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Sultan Bolkiah and his wife were also hosted to lunch by PM Lee and Mrs Lee, before both leaders officiated at the opening of an exhibition at the Singapore Philatelic Museum.

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