Indonesia celebrates its 75th anniversary with commemorative note
- Published: Aug 30, 2020, 9 AM
The Bank of Indonesia honored the nation’s 75th anniversary of independence from the Netherlands on Aug. 17 with the issue of a 75,000-rupiah commemorative bank note. The launch was done virtually because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In total, 75 million pieces were initially printed, each the equivalent of $5.08 in U.S. currency.
The design on the face side is a composite of images. At its center are the busts of the country’s first leaders, President Sukarno, and Vice President Muhammad Hatta. Sukarno had only one name. It also shows the flag-raising ceremony during the Declaration of Independence on Aug. 17, 1945, and several notable accomplishments in infrastructure, such as a train from the Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit System, the 2,400-foot-long Youtefa Bridge on the island of Papua, and the 725 mile Trans-Java Toll Road that connects all the main cities on the island.
The back has nine Indonesian children, each one in traditional clothing from nine of the nation’s 34 provinces: Aceh, Riau, Central Java, West Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Gorontalo, Maluku and Papua. The children pictured were selected in a contest held by the Bank of Indonesia last year. The costumes were chosen because the nine provinces they represent had not been featured on previous bank notes. The head of the bank’s currency management department told This Week in Asia that the selection was an attempt to “emphasize the diversity which is an asset for the Indonesian nation.”
As probably should have been expected in a nation of 267 million people, it did not take long for racism to rear its ugly head on social media. Indonesia is 86.7 percent Islam, the largest such population in the world, but it also has significant Christian, Indian, and Chinese minorities.
One of the children was singled out on Facebook and Twitter for wearing what appeared to some to be a Chinese outfit, proving, according to one poster, that “Indonesia is China’s colony.”
Another bigot claimed that since the boy seemed to have slanted eyes, he must have been of Chinese ethnicity. The boy’s name is Muhammad Izzam Athaya. He is an elementary school student in Tarakan city in the province of North Kalimantan. He is a Muslim from that province’s Tidung tribe, whose traditional costume he is seen wearing on the note.
This is Indonesia’s fourth commemorative bank note. The previous ones were issued on the occasion of the nation’s 25th, 45th and 50th anniversaries.
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