Friday, 7 July 2017

Brunei and Singapore leaders celebrate 50th anniversary of currency agreement

Sultan says pact's success a tribute to enduring friendship; commemorative $50 notes issued
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 6 Jul 2017

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.

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.

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.

How to get the special notes
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 6 Jul 2017

One million pieces of commemorative Brunei $50 notes and two million pieces of Singapore $50 notes can be bought at face value from tomorrow.

They will be available at the branches of nine retail banks in Singapore, including the three major local banks as well as the Bank of China and Maybank. Banks here, like those in Brunei, will distribute a set of the two notes, with a complimentary folder.

The maximum number a person is allowed to buy each time in Singapore is five sets, as well as 10 pieces of the Singapore $50 commemorative note.

Both the notes can be used in any cash transaction in Singapore.

Also available for purchase is an exclusive collection of five types of limited edition numismatic note sets.

For inquiries and orders, members of the public may contact The Singapore Mint or visit its website at

Those wishing to purchase sets that are oversubscribed will face balloting.

Online pre-orders must reach the Singapore Mint by next Wednesday and can be collected from July 18 at several locations, including Singapore Mint outlets in Suntec City and City Square Mall.


Jointly curated exhibition celebrates close friendship between both nations
By Zhaki Abdullah, The Straits Times, 6 Jul 2017

An eight-month exhibition celebrating the "deep-rooted friendship" between Brunei and Singapore begins today at the Singapore Philatelic Museum.

The exhibition, titled Abode of Peace & the Lion City: A Brunei-Singapore Exhibition, was officially opened yesterday afternoon by Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who is in Singapore on a state visit, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The display is being held in conjunction with the Golden Jubilee of a currency interchangeability agreement between the two nations. Jointly curated by the Singapore Philatelic Museum and Brunei's Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the exhibition will run until the end of February next year.

For the first time in Asia, 33 items from Brunei's royal regalia are on display outside the country. These include items - such as vases, swords and shields - used during the 1968 coronation ceremony and 1992 silver jubilee ceremony of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Also on display are stamps and other philatelic materials, as well as 66 artefacts on loan from the Brunei Museums Department, dating back to AD960, including 19th century brass containers and blue porcelain ware from a shipwreck in Brunei.

Visitors will also get the chance to view 42 pieces of currency notes and coins, issued over the past 50 years, on loan from Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

This weekend, visitors to the museum will also get to enjoy cultural performances by musicians and dancers from the Brunei Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.

"The royal regalia and other artefacts on display are treasures of Brunei, and we are proud to be able to share our culture with Singapore," said Mr Abdoh Damit, acting director of culture and the arts at the Brunei ministry.

Ms Tresnawati Prihadi, general manager of the Singapore Philatelic Museum, said that the exhibition will enable people in Brunei and Singapore "to gain a deeper appreciation of each other's history and culture, as well as longstanding political, social and economic ties".

A second part of the exhibition, focusing on Singapore's multiculturalism and efforts at urban greening, will run in Brunei from November to April next year.

Brunei Sultan visits SAF's Pasir Ris Camp
The Straits Times, 7 Jul 2017

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei visited the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) Pasir Ris Camp yesterday, the final day of his two-day state visit.

He was hosted by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, while Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng, who is also Second Minister for Transport, and Chief of Army Melvyn Ong were also present.

At Pasir Ris Camp, Sultan Bolkiah watched the SAF's counter-terrorism forces storm a building and witnessed a freefall demonstration by the Red Lions skydivers. He also fired training munitions on simulated terrorist targets and was taken on a tour of the army's Airborne-Trooper Training Facility. At the end of the visit, Sultan Bolkiah was presented with the SAF's Honorary Advanced Military Freefall Wings to commemorate the event.

The Sultan's visit to the SAF underscores the close and longstanding defence ties between Singapore and Brunei, a bilateral defence relationship which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, said the Ministry of Defence.

Sultan Bolkiah was also hosted to lunch yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean. It was attended by several other ministers.

On Wednesday, Sultan Bolkiah was hosted to a state banquet by President Tony Tan Keng Yam. The Sultan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also launched a set of commemorative $50 notes to mark the 50th anniversary of the Currency Interchangeability Agreement between the two countries.

In a statement yesterday wrapping up the Sultan's visit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the trip has reaffirmed the close, substantive and enduring ties between Singapore and Brunei.

It added: "The bilateral relationship is built on the firm foundations of friendship and trust between Singaporean and Bruneian leaders over the years, and will continue to flourish as both sides work together to strengthen existing and new pillars of cooperation."

Brunei Darussalam and Singapore celebrate 50th Anniversary of the Currency Interchangeability Agreement
Currency Interchangeability Agreement between Brunei Darussalam and Singapore

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