5 Ringgit - Click to enlarge 50 Ringgit - Click to enlarge
Issue: 50 Ringgit.

To commemorate the XVI Commonwealth Games, Bank Negara Malaysia, (BNM) issued a R 50 polymer note. Kuala Lumpur became the first Asian city to host these Games, which brought together 6,000 athletes and officials from 69 countries.

Staged at 26 venues in and around Kuala Lumpur and on Langkawi Island, the Games were held between 11-21st September 1998. Athletes competed in 15 sports, being traditional ones of athletics, badminton, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, lawn bowls, shooting, squash, swimming, and weightlifting. Team sports of cricket, hockey (men and women), netball and rugby were introduced for the first time and ten pin bowling was the "host's choice". Langkawi is the largest of a group of 99 islands, on the western side of the Malay Peninsula where the Indian Ocean meets the Straits of Malacca. It is a very popular tourist destination with many resorts. Langkawi, amongst other responsibilities, hosted the cycling events.

The note was issued in co-operation with the Games authority, "SUKOM NINETY EIGHT BERHAD". All notes were issued in folders (singly or in small sheets of 3) intended as a souvenir of the Games. Special number notes were withheld and these were advertised widely in the international press.

Despite suffering in the "Asian economic crises", necessitating the introduction of severe exchange and financial controls only months previously, the Games were heralded as an "economic showcase" for Malaysia. As such, the Games were designated a National Event.

Whilst the note is signed by the Governor of BNM, Tan Sri Dato' Ahmad bin Mohd Don by the time the Games commenced, Mohd's term had expired Tan Sri Dato' Seri Ali Abul Hassan bin Sulaiman was the new Governor.

Malaysia - 50 Ringgit - P45 - Front
>Malaysia - 50 Ringgit - P45 - Front
Malaysia - 50 Ringgit - P45 - Back
Malaysia - 50 Ringgit - P45 - Back

Description: Malaysia's first Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Paramount Ruler) Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj (b.24.8.1895. d. 1.4.1960) is portrayed to the right on the front of the note. He was King of the State of Negri Sembilan and elected Head of the Federation on a rotational basis with other provincial leaders. At the top centre is the new Kuala Lumpur International Airport built to coincide with the Games. Below in the foreground are the Petronas Twin Towers, the colonial style Kuala Lumpur Railway Station and other prominent city landmarks representing Malaysia's development. At far right is an artist's impression of the Multimedia Super Corridor connecting Kuala Lumpur City to the new airport. Two diamond shaped raised spots are placed at top left to assist the visually impaired in determining the denomination

The specially commissioned Games stadium, Utama Bukit Jalil is the primary design feature on the back of the note.

Security Features: Those discrete to this note include:
(a) Two clear windows with features visible from both sides of the note. One contains an Optically Variable Device (OVD) showing the portrait of Tunku Abdul Rahman in a gold colour, which is in keeping with overall tones. Optical shifts occur when the note is tilted to the light. The second window contains the logo of BNM.
(b) Micro - printing of "KL 98 GAMES" in a panel behind the portrait of Tunku Abdul Rahman and in an arc above the back of the Stadium.
(c) As a final treatment polymer notes receive a special protective overcoating to protect the security features and to enhance their life expectancy. On this note, a rectangular area encompassing each serial number does not receive this final coating. This becomes apparent when the note is held at an angle.
(d) Perfect registration device in the from of a butterfly above the clock tower of the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station (front) and to the right of the Stadium (back).
(e) The Games logo on the back of the note, both serial numbers, "BNM" and the denomination "50" fluoresce when exposed to ultra - violet light. The box containing "BNM" and "50" is in vertical format and aligns with "Lima Puluh Ringgit" at the right side of the front of the note.

Translation: "Wang Kertas Ini Sah Diperlakukan Dengan Nilai" in Bahasa Malay on the front of the note translates as "This note is legal tender for value of ..."

The Arabic inscriptions (understood to be in the Yakout style) on the back of the note translate as:
To the left - "Bank Negara Malaysia" and,
To the right "Fifty Ringgit".

Catalogue No:SCWPM P45.
Precise Date of Issue:1st June 1998. Date of note is incorporated in serial number and in Kuala Lumpur 98 legend.
Numbers Issued:500,000.
Prefix Range:KL over 98 only.
Signature:Governor - Tan Sri Dato' Ahmad bin Mohd Don. (1st May 1994 - 1st August 1998)
Colour:Blue and yellow.
Languages:Predominantly Bahasa Malay; Arabic.
Dimensions:152 x 76 mm.
Printer:Note Printing Australia (NPA) using Guardian polymer substrate.
Replacements:None known. Believed not to exist.
Country Ranking:Malaysia is the 10th country to issue an NPA based polymer note.
Printing Method:Intaglio.
Sheet size:Not available (production process only).
Product:Folder in slipcase. 3-note uncut sheets were issued.
Serial numbers on the notes for the sheets observed commence above 500,000 and the serial numbers on each note in the sheet increase by 2,500. For example, if the serial number on the top note of the sheet is 501283, that on the middle note will be 503781 and on the bottom note, 506283.

Issue: 5 Ringgit.
Just as Brunei continued with and Singapore resumed the issue of polymer notes in 2004, Bank Negara Malaysia released a polymer 5 Ringgit on 26 October, 2004. Malaysia’s first polymer was a non circulating commemorative RM50 in 1998 when Kuala Lumpur hosted XVI th Commonwealth Games. This new note is circulating and is based on its paper predecessor. Initially 80 million pieces were issued in time for the religious holidays of Hari Raya and Deepavali when new notes often appear.

It is long awaited. I have referred to it several times in these pages and have often wondered if it would ever materialise. As often the case with a new note its issue was surrounded by secrecy. However Bank Negara seemed to go a little overboard although doubtless it had its reasons; there must have been considerable concern about spurious issues and possible fraud. As a little as a week out from its issue, the Bank announced that a new polymer note would appear however to my knowledge that is all that was said. According to my sources in Malaysia no mention was made of the denomination or design. The note was unveiled (and released) on 26 October and only at that time were details made known and an education programme commenced.

Of course, its similarity with the paper issue it replaced reduced the need for an intensive promotion. All Malaysian notes since the first issue in 1967 have carried the portrait of the first Head of State (Seri Paduka Baginda Yang Di Pertuan Agong or Paramount Ruler) Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj (1895 to 1960). Malaysia has an unusual if not unique system in which its Head of State is chosen on a rotational basis for a fixed term from the rulers of its constituent states. Tunku Abdul Rahman was king of Negri Sembilan. The balance of the front of the note is pretty much given over to fine line engraving and various geometric designs.

A number of prominent buildings appear on the back among them the Petronas twin towers in Kuala Lumpur, at one time the world’s tallest buildings. A map forms a partial background pattern.

Security features are quite extensive. A clear window contains the denomination numeral “5”. Part of the white border of this window contains an image of part of the Prime Minister’s building at Putrajaya. The balance of the building appears as a shadow image within the printed area of the note adjacent to the window. These features may be viewed from both sides and appear where the watermark is on the paper version of this note.

Bank Negara’s logo the kijang, a deer like creature, is printed upon the note as a perfect registration. On the back it in a non - transparent window. Stylised hibiscus also appear in perfect registration. A box appears to the left of the portrait with the letters “BNM” for Bank Negara Malaysia in vertical format over which is micro printed “RM5”.

When viewed under ultraviolet light hibiscus blooms at the top and bottom of the front of the note fluoresce, as does a vertical box with the legend BNM 5 to the right of the portrait and the serials numbers on the back.

Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, a woman, signs the note as Governor of BNM. “CA” is the first prefix for this issue which seems to follow on from its paper predecessor.

In an address at the launch of this note, an Assistant Governor of Bank Negara, commented that polymer notes constitute some 5% of banknotes in circulation worldwide. Advantages of a clean note policy and the part that polymer technology plays were emphasised during the unveiling. Durability of polymer notes was also referred to and doubtless the decision to go polymer was driven by economic considerations rather than security factors which is what one would expect for a relatively low denomination.

Bank Negara Malaysia uses several printers in a deliberate policy to obtain notes at a competitive rate. On this basis it may not fully convert to polymer – unless of course it is convinced that the economics of polymer are paramount. No indication is given as to the printer but reading between the lines in various comments made by various officials, it seems that Note Printing Australia is the printer.

There does not appear to be any product associated with this note however there are rumours of a three note uncut sheet being presented to staff of BNM just as was done for the RM50. However I stress that at this stage these are just rumours.

Malaysia - 5 Ringgit - P New - Front
Malaysia - 5 Ringgit - P New -  Front
Malaysia - 5 Ringgit - P New - Back
Malaysia - 5 Ringgit - P New - Back
Catalogue No:P New
Precise Date of Issue:26 October, 2004.
Numbers Issued:Initially 80 million pieces.
Prefix Range:CA is the first prefix for this issue.
Signature:Governor of BNM - Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz