Singapore’s one dollar coin
While in Singapore, I went to one of the many Internet cafes near to my hotel. When it was time to pay, I used my Brunei dollars as the charge was only a few dollars. The lady-owner declined to accept it as she said she just wouldn’t accept Brunei notes.
I found this to be absurd as Brunei and Singapore currencies are inter-changeable. She was aware of that, she said, it’s just that she didn’t want to accept it. So I have to pay with my Singapore note which has a higher denomination.
When I received my change, she gave me a few one dollar coins. I told her that the one dollar coins could not be used in Brunei, which is true. I am not hitting her back. It’s her turn to ask me why. I just said that we don’t use it back home.
I asked her why Singapore issued the one dollar coin because I couldn’t really recall the when and why. She told me of a second-hand story she heard herself. Here goes:
There was one time when Singapore’s economy was really bad. Singapore’s PM sought advice from the Feng Shui masters. They told him that everyone in Singapore must carry any octagon-shaped items. Eight is known to bring luck for the Chinese. However, since not everyone would believe that carrying around eight-shape items would bring such luck; an idea came in the form of the coin. So the one dollar coin was born. After that, according to the lady-owner, Singapore’s economy improved year after year. That’s their belief there.
The one dollar coin is inscribed with an octagon, which looks like a ba gua, a Chinese lucky charm. Feng shui masters are believed to have said that the construction of MRT tunnels through downtown Singapore would have an adverse effect; they recommended that every household display a bagua to negate this. Bearing in mind that there were many locals who did not adhere to this Chinese belief, this was not possible. Thus the design of the one dollar coin. A popular urban myth in Singapore states that fortune tellers told Lee Kwan Yew that his dynasty would remain in power provided the octagon was spread throughout the city state.