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Tuesday, 24 May 2011

17) Coins issued by Bank Negara, Malaysia

Coins issued by Bank Negara, Malaysia:

Malaysia, with its tourism byline “Malaysia, Truly Asia”, is a place worth visiting. What, with the  the amusement park and the roller coaster rides at Genting island, Batu(natural stone caves), the twin towers , lush green forest cover for trekking, idyllic sea beaches, National Museum , Zoo, and its rich cultural history etc. , it makes for a nice ,relaxed, holiday. What impressed me the most, was that there is no honking on the roads and the vehicle horns could easily be stashed away in museums as history, because it was considered ,totally,impolite to use it.

Bank Negara, Malaysia, is the Central Bank for issue of all Malaysian currency notes, and coins.  In June 1967, the Malaysian ringgit/sen, issued by the Bank replaced the existing currency in all its denominations. 

The First series: The first issues of Malaysian coins (sen) in 1967 were called the First series, minting of which coins, continued till 1989.  The following denominations were issued by Bank Negara , Malaysia:

Cupro-nickel  :50 sen, 20 sen, 10 sen and 5 sen.

Bronze/copper clad steel: one sen.

The design on these coins was as follows:

On the obverse, the word “Malaysia” was written in English only on top of the coin and the word “sen” written on the bottom of the coin. The value of the coin was mentioned in numerals in between. The year of minting was also included at the bottom of the coin. On the left and right hand borders were a motif of two leafs each.

On the reverse, there is an an image of the Parliament house and a thirteen-pointed star and crescent moon.
The symbolism of this series,  laid stress on showcasing the Parliament , a symbol of official authority, as also , the star and the moon, which were religious motifs.

A one ringgit coin and a new design 50 sen coin were, later, added in the early seventies , both coins  with the words “Bank Negara Malaysia” on the obverse, instead of only “Malaysia”. On the reverse the one ringgit coin had a 14 pointed star instead of the 13 pointed star in the other issues.

I visited Malaysia for a holiday with my wife in October 2006. Although, I was not an active coin collector at that time, I still managed to keep a few coins which I came upon during my trip. 

I have managed to keep two coins from the first series.
The first one is a 20 sen coin minted in 1979 and the second one is a 10 sen coin minted in 1981. I am putting up images of both coins here for reference. The 20 sen coin is reeded and has a 23mm diameter.
The 10 sen coin is also reeded, but has a 19 mm diameter. Both coins are made of cupro-nickel, as mentioned above.  

Obverse of the same coins, showing the words “Malaysia”, “sen” and numerals 20 and 10 respectively.


Reverse of the 20 and 10 sen coins exhibiting the Parliament House and the 13-pointed star and crescent moon.

The undernoted 50 sen images are from the collection of Jayant Biswas, who has contributed these scans for this post:

 The above coin exhibits similar design features as the 20 and 10 sen coins placed above on this post.

The second series (1989 onwards):  This series started in late 1989 shifted the focus from showcasing symbols of official authority and religious motifs, to showcasing the popular cultural symbols of Malaysia, a constant reminder of the rich cultural heritage of the country.

The following denominations were issued by Bank Negara, Malaysia, in this series:

Cupro-nickel : 50 sen,20 sen, 10 sen and 5 sen .

Copper-zinc-tin : 1 Ringgit.

Bronze-steel : 1 sen.

The edge of the 1 sen coin is plain, while , the edges of the 1 Ringgit , 20,10 and 5 sen are reeded. 
 Interestingly, the edge of the 50 sen coin carries the name “Bank Negara, Malaysia” twice, because the size of the coin is large at 28mm.

I have collected specimens of 50,20,10 and 1 sen coins during my trip images of which I am putting up here.

Obverse of a  50 sen coin from 2000, which shows the name of the issuing Bank “Bank Negara Malaysia on the upper side,the numeral “50” in large lettering , with the year “2000” flanking the numeral   by half, a hibiscus, between the Bank’s name and the numeral 50. At the bottom is the word “sen”. The size of the coin is large, and it has a 28 mm diameter.

Reverse of the above coin shows a Wau bulan, which is an ornately designed, large-sized, moon- kite, which is, also one of the National symbols of Malaysia, among others. Bulan means a “moon” in Bahasa Malaysia, the official language of Malaysia. The Wau bulan is so called, because, it is shaped like a crescent moon in its lower section and when the kite is flown, one gets the impression, that, it looks like the rising crescent moon. To make these kites more distinctive and beautiful, while being flown in the sky, intricately designed floral motifs are printed on them.  The kites  usually measures 3.5 meters x 2.5 meters.
 Apart from the Wau Bulan having the pride of place on the Obverse of the 50 sen coin, it is also the official logo of the Malaysian Airlines, on which we had travelled on our trip to Malaysia. 

Photos taken at the Museum in Kuala Lumpur at the Wau Bulan maker's hut exhibit, showing various designs of these kites.

Obverse of  20 sen coins from 1993, 2005 and 2006, showing, the name of the issuing bank ‘Bank Negara Malaysia” on the upper side, the numeral “20” in large lettering , with the year of issue flanking the numeral  by half, a  hibiscus, between the Bank’s name and the numeral 20. The 2006 coin was the most recently minted one collected by me ,at the time of my trip. These coins are round  and has a 23mm diameter.

Reverse of the above coin, showing a tepak sirih container. 
A tepak sirih is , essentially, a betel leaf container, which is used for presenting betel leafs  for chewing  (the chewing tradition is called “makan sirih” in Malaysia) to guests and dignitaries, visiting  homes and in official functions. The equivalent of a tepak sirih in India is called a “paan daan” (betel leaf container). 

If one visits any handicrafts centre in Malaysia, one would typically find a tepak sirih, for sale, as a decorative mantel piece item.  We had seen quite a few at the museum in Kuala Lumpur.  

 A typical betel nut container, both in Malaysia and India will contain a few fresh betel nuts, betel nuts, lime, gambir, tobacco etc which go as accessories to prepare the betel leaf (called a “paan” in India) depending on individual preferences.   There is also a betel nut cracker in the image above, the most essential accessory, which is called a “kacip” in Malaysia and a “sarauta” in India.
 A tepak sirih is typically found on the 20 sen coins in the new series.

The above two images are of the Obverse of  10 sen coins from 1991 and 1997, showing, the name of the issuing bank ‘Bank Negara Malaysia” on the upper side, the numeral “10” in large lettering , with the year of issue flanking the numeral  by half, a  hibiscus, between the Bank’s name and the numeral 10. These coins  are round and have a 19mm diameter.

Reverse of the above coin showing a congkak, variously interpreted as  having originated from a Malay word , meaning “a mental calculation”  or , sometimes, another interpretation, meaning, “cowrie shells”  both of which are used in a board-game , having a number of holes. The congkak boards are often made of mahogany or teak (Remember, that Malaysia has beautiful and abundant forest cover) and elaborately carved as birds, swans and other attractive shapes. It is believed that this game was introduced to Malaysia and the South-East Asia, by sea-farers coming from Europe and Arabia.
A boat-shaped congkak has the pride of place on the obverse of 10 sen coins in the new series.

Obverse of a  one  sen coin from 2005 and 2006, showing the same features as the other coins in this series. It is also circular in shape and has a 18 mm diameter.

On the reverse, is a Rebana ubi, which  is a traditional  Malay tambourine used in Islamic devotional songs and music and is a derivative of the  Persian word “Robbana” ( our god). This instrument is called the ‘Dhapli or Dhap” in India and is used for similar purposes, particularly, in Sufi traditions.  The Rebana ubi is the biggest tambourine, as far as tambourines go. 
The image of a Rebana ubi has the pride of place on the obverse of the one sen coin.

 A  Gasing or  a spinning top image   is found on the 5 sen coins.

A Keris is an assymetrical  native dagger, popularly mentioned in traditional folklore,  having a wavy blade , but sometimes, it also has a straight blade. It is still a popular accessory today , for traditional reasons. This is found on one ringgit coins. 
I could not collect specimens of the last coin during my trip.

I , also, used Malaysian currency notes, issued in the third series .

I have a RM 5 , polymer note, ( introduced only a couple of years ago, prior to our visit to Malaysia, in 2006) which is green in colour.  The obverse shows the portrait of Tuanku  Abdul Rahman , while, the reverse shows the  Multimedia  Super Corridor, Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Petronas twin towers.

Obverse of the  RM 5 note.

Reverse of the  RM 5 note .

I, also,  have a  RM 1 note , in my collection which is blue in colour. It depicts Malasian tourism,  Mount Kinabalu, Mount Mulu, and a Wau Bulan kite. This is a paper note , not a polymer one.

Obverse of the RM 1 note.

Reverse of the RM 1 note.

I am sure, that most tourists who go to Malaysia and local residents, would have used these notes  , as a matter of routine, without knowing what beautiful designs and representations are made  on the reverse, and how much effort and thought has gone into the layouts approved by the Bank Negara , Malaysia.  

I shall certainly make it a point to collect the missing denominations, in both currency notes and coins, if, I visit Malaysia a second time.


  1. Another interesting post on Malaysian coins.. I was stationed in Malaysia for about two years, but had never realized, or associated the Malaysian Airlines logo with the Wau Bulan, much less with the depiction on the 50 sen coin.. truly a learning for the day for me!

    Now that Malaysia has released another new definitive series in 2011, you may want to post an update on this thread with the new theme "Distinctively Malaysia".. though in my personal opinion, the new series is not as attractive as the previous one. In the old series, I particularly like the fact that the reverse only carries the image and no text.

    1. Thank you Rahul. I have got a whole lot of currency notes to add to this post, but have not been able to do so because of having several other posts in the pipeline. Will also try & get scans of the new Malaysian coins. Maybe, I'll take up your suggestion & do a separate post on the new series.

  2. I found very interesting and informative informations of the page and liked it too much. Thank you very much for the publisher.

    1. Thank you so much Nirmal for visiting my blog and your extremely encouraging comment.

  3. I have a 50 sen..i wanna sell it

  4. I have 20 sen of malaysia of 1970 how much I got for that coin

    1. Hello Deepak, you could check up present day quotes on eBay or similar sites. Also if you want to sell your coin, leave your name and contact number, then buyers could contact you.