Singapore botches ex-leader's name on historic currency package

Singapore (AFP) - Singapore's central bank has apologised for misspelling the name of the city-state's first president on the packaging of a special currency issue marking the country's 50th year of independence.

The name of the late president Yusof Ishak was spelt "Yusok Ishak" on the cover folder containing the Sg$50 and Sg$10 commemorative notes, launched Thursday, much to the embarrassment of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

"This should never have happened, is not acceptable, and I take full responsibility," MAS managing director Ravi Menon said in a statement.

"I apologise on behalf of my colleagues who worked hard to prepare the notes and folders, but are deeply disappointed that we made this most unfortunate mistake. We will put this right."

Apart from the cover folder, the error also appeared in an enclosed booklet, although there were no mistakes on the dollar notes celebrating the anniversary.

Apart from Yusof's portrait, the special Sg$50 note also contains the image of the country's first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March.

The MAS said it was printing stickers to fix the error and will make them available for those who have already bought the package to paste over the misspelled name.

Long queues of buyers formed outside banks when the collectible currency went on sale on Thursday.

Singapore, one of the world's wealthiest societies, marked its 50th independence day this month with fireworks, a massive military parade and a celebration of its rapid economic development.

The island became a republic on August 9, 1965, when it was ejected from the Malaysian federation following a stormy two-year union.