Histories of the 11 Currencies of ASEAN Countries

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The name ASEAN has been studied since elementary school. Even though the name is well known, aspects of the countries in it are not necessarily as widely known as the name of the currency that applies in that country.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional organization consisting of 11 countries specifically in the Southeast Asia area. The mission of cooperation is to make the Southeast Asia region a peaceful region as stated in the Declaration of Peaceful, Free and Neutral Regions which was signed in 1971.

ASEAN was officially formed on August 8, 1967 through a conference held in Bangkok, Thailand. There are countries called the Founding Fathers, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, officially signed by signing the Bangkok Declaration.

Then, followed by 5 countries such as Brunei Darussalam which joined on January 7, 1984, Vietnam on July 28, 1995, Laos and Myanmar on July 23, 1997, Cambodia on April 3, 1999, and Timor Leste on November 11, 2022.

To understand the applicable currencies, let’s learn together about the following list of the 11 currencies of ASEAN countries:

1. Indonesia (Rupiah)

Indonesia, this country has a complicated history of the rupiah. The Rupiah (IDR), which is now legal and recognized as Indonesia’s currency, originates from the determination of the use of money issued by the Dutch East Indies, de Javasche Bank, and de Japansche Regeering. This was done by the colonialists to strengthen their power on native land after Indonesia proclaimed independence. Then, one of the Dutch parties conducted a survey among native people which they tended to understand, whether Dutch or Indonesian (ORI) money. In short, Bank Indonesia (BI) was officially appointed as the central bank that prints the Rupiah with the guarantee of state documents under Bank Indonesia Law Number 13 of 1968.

2. Malaysia (Malaysian Ringgit)

The Malaysian currency ringgit is also known as the Malaysian Ringgit (RM). They have an ISO code for their currency, namely MYR (Malaysian Ringgit). This country is a former British colony with currency transactions under the control of the United Kingdom. History also records that the currency regulations of the Straits Countries (British colonies) were strictly regulated. However, after independence, Malaysia emerged with the Malaysian dollar currency on June 12, 1967 through Bank Negara Malaysia. Continuing in 1993, Malaysia changed its ringgit (RM) symbol to replace the Malaysian dollar symbol.

3. Singapore (SIngapore Dollar)

Singapore chose the dollar as its official national transaction tool. The Singapore Dollar (SGD) has been in effect since 1967 after leaving the Malaysian Federation. However, there was also a time in 1953, where the SGD was replaced with the Malayan and British Borneo dollars through the Board of Commissioners of Currency, Malaya and British Borneo. Various sources also note the development of its currency since 1967. Singapore established the Board of Commissioners of Currency. Then, the first money was printed on June 12, 1967.

4. Thailand (Thai Baht)

Thailand is one of the founders of ASEAN which adheres to a Constitutional Monarchy system of government. The official currency of Thailand is Baht. In the international world, the abbreviation for the name of the Thai currency is THB.

Thai Bath (THB) has been used to refer to money in Thailand for centuries. However, the modern incarnation of currency emerged in the early 20th century after the reforms of Chulalongkorn/King Rama V.

King Rama V introduced the decimalization of the Thai Baht, which at that time was known as Thai Tical to Westerners. Now, the Central Bank of Thailand, namely the Bank of Thailand, manages currency and issues it in a number of denominations or the order of Thai currency from smallest to largest denomination.

5. Philippines (Philippine Peso)

Likewise, the history of the Philippine Peso (PHP) money was influenced by Spanish colonization. In fact, when the people were free from colonialism, the Peso currency needed to be reformed a lot to suit the individual needs of the people. The term ‘Peso’ itself is a language from the Matador Country, which means ‘heavy‘. Next, in 1521, the Philippine Teston coin was introduced.

6. Brunei Darussalam (Brunei Dollar)

The currency of the ASEAN country, Brunei Darussalam, is called the Brunei dollar (B$). However, Malay people tend to call it Brunei Ringgit. Various sources note that Brunei has issued many series of payment instruments such as the 1967 series in paper notes, the 1872, 1989, 1992, and 2000 series in paper notes, the 1996, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2011, and 2013 series in polymer notes.

7. Vietnam (Dong)

Vietnam’s currency is the Dong which has existed since the time of the oldest kingdoms. This is proven by the discovery of the Thai Binh Hung Bao coin which has existed since 968 AD during the Dinh dynasty. However, French colonialism influenced Vietnam’s currency. In fact, the entire region of Vietnam was referred to as French Indochine and its currency was replaced with the French IndoChinese piaster. On November 3, 1946 after independence, Vietnam nationally returned to the Dong printed by the National Bank of Vietnam.

8. Laos (Laotian Kip)

The Lao Kip (LAK) is printed and regulated by the Bank of the Lao PDR and complies with the ISO 4217 standard for changing money symbols. Since 1946 Laos began issuing the first banknote denominations with various denominations such as 10, 20, 50, and 10 Kip. Laos also experienced colonialism similar to Vietnam which was under French rule.

However, in 1952 the Laotian Kip began to be revived again, strengthened through the Institut d’Emission des Etats du Cambodge and du Laos et du Vietnam issuing banknotes in new denominations such as 1.5, and 100 Kip and Piastres. In short, the replacement of the Laotian currency with the Lao Pathet occurred and was replaced with the Laotian Kip from 1979 until now.

9. Myanmar (Myanmar Kyat)

Myanmar has a currency called the Myanmar Kyat (MMK) which has been in effect since 1852. In the first version of the printing, Myanmar printed gold and silver coins which were valid until 1889.

However, history also records that Myanmar once used the Indian Rupee as its official transaction tool. Until 1952, Myanmar had a currency supervisory board to regulate the printing of the Kyat currency.

10. Cambodia (Cambodian Riel)

The Riel (KHR) is the official currency of Cambodia since 1980 as a replacement for the old Cambodian Riel. The United States Dollar is also valid in this country. Each unit of the Riel currency is divided into 100 cents, including 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000.

Various historical sources state that Riel originated from Angkor Wat. Then, according to the language, it is thought to be similar to Real Mexican silver coins. Plus the Khmer language also calls the small fish of the Mekong River as riel.

11. Timor Leste (US Dollar)

Citing Travelex, the currency used by Timor Leste is US dollars, a decision made by the National Consultative Council that considered the US Dollar as strong and stable. The country adopted the US dollar in 1976, a year after the East gained its independence. Before that, it used the pataca, the rupiah, and the escudo. The pataca was used from 1894 to 1958.


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