The third series of Malaysian banknotes are released by the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to raise awareness about a transformation plan called Vision 2020.
Before I share a brief history of Malaysian banknotes, let’s look at what does the pictures on the banknotes signify. Colours and pictures on the banknotes are not meant to enhance its beauty and make it more appealing. They carry with them a meaning and a purpose in the greater sense of the nation. The pictures are carefully chosen to educate, inform and promote the nationalism among the people. The overall appeal of the banknotes is carefully crafted to instigate the emotional side of the nationals to their country, signifying their belonging to their nation and evoking the feeling of self-sacrifice and loyalty.
The first series of Malaysian banknotes were released in 1967 and they featured the portrait of Yang Di-Pertuan Agong(it means the supreme head or the head of the state of Malaysia) on the front and Kijang Emas (the official gold coin of Malaysia) on the back. They were based on the geometric concept. Another series, the second series was released in 1982 with the banknotes featuring artefacts (traditional ornaments) and national heritage on the front and back while it retained the photo of Yang Di Pertuan Agong. The third series of banknotes were issued in 1996 which convey the idea of Vision 2020 in the form of pictures. The notes featured images of tourism in RM1, telecommunication in RM2, transportation in RM10, oil and gas in RM50 and car production in RM100.
The visuals on the third series signify the journey of Malaysia from a developing to a developed country. The third series also has the image of Yang Di Pertuan Agong and the BNM logo but as opposed to first and second series, it has introduced Jawi script on the back side.
Another important and interesting thing about the third series is the use of ‘RM’ as against ‘$’ signifying Malaysia’s economic liberty and its appeal as establishing itself as an independent currency.
Appointment of Dr Zeti Aktar as the governor of BNM symbolizes the achievement of women of the Malaysian nation. The images of car vision on the banknotes come from the vision of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, who aims to transform it into an industrialized nation.