"HE is on every one of them. I bet his grandchildren joke about how it's 'their grandfather's money' all the time," I said to Bel referring to our new banknotes with the old guy on them.
|The new banknotes|
"He's Tunku (Abdul Rahman), the first prime minister. Someone argued with me that the portrait is of the Agong (King), can you believe that?," replied Bel.
"I think that someone is right. The man is the first Agong. The one on the notes is wearing a Tengkolok (a royal head dress) and Tunku was hip with that Songkok (a type of cap worn by men in this part of the world) senget ( Tunku had a way of wearing it slightly tilted to one side, giving him a flamboyant look)."
|Tunku Abdul Rahman|
"Really??? But why. It doesn't make sense. Tunku's the first prime minister and he fought for the country's independence (Malaya was freed from the British on Aug 31, 1957). I've always thought it was him on our money. Google it."
Now there is nothing you can't Google. The portrait featured on the obverse on our bank notes since the first series of Malayan dollar notes were issued in 1967 is that of Colonel Paduka Sri Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhammad, our first King. *He was installed as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of independent Malaya on Sept 13, 1957. As Malay rulers do not traditionally possess crowns, he was installed by kissing the royal Keris. In honour of him, all subsequent Agong of Malaysia have also used the headdress Dendam Tak Sudah (literally means unending revenge), a fashion used in the state of Negeri Sembilan.
|Banknotes from the first series|
For some reason, it turns out that not many are actually aware of the man on our banknotes. When I went around asking a few people, some actually thought that he was the bank governor, while many, like Bel, presumed it was the prime minister.
"Geez. He gets to be in these notes forever just because he's the first Agong? Yeah, of course his grandchildren could joke about it."
It was quite a revelation for Bel. That aside, I think Bel could use some of the jokes too as there is a road in Kuala Lumpur that's named after her late grandfather. He was some kind of a big shot here in the early days.
* from Wikipedia