KUALA LUMPUR: The Chinese observe the ang pow-giving tradition seriously.
This can be seen whenever the Lunar New Year approaches, as people visit banks for one simple reason – to withdraw or exchange old notes for crisp new banknotes.
This is in line with the custom that everything has to be brand new during the Chinese New Year.
However, father-of-two Darick Wong noted that many banks do not have new notes this festive season.
"I was not able to withdraw new notes despite visiting different banks.
"I was hoping to withdraw new notes in denominations of RM10 and RM5," he told the New Straits Times.
Housewife Janet Tan Chew Mee is also among those who had taken time to queue up for new notes for the upcoming festive celebration – only to be disappointed.
She said banks should introduce more ATMs that would allow customers to withdraw new notes.
"(But) in conjunction with this Chinese New Year, new notes are available only at selected banks’ ATM machines.
"Banks should create apps that would let customers see in real time which branches have new notes in stock," she said.
A bank teller who spoke on condition of anonymity said many customers were left disappointed on the lack of new notes.
She said new notes usually run out within the first few days after they are made available.
Usually, customers can start to exchange old notes for new banknotes about two weeks ahead of Chinese New Year.
But this year, her branch in Bangsar did not receive any new notes at all.
"We had to make do with any banknote which was in good condition as ang pow money, instead of crisp new ones," she said.
Perhaps it is about time that people make do with “good-as-new” notes.
Printing new notes is not very environmentally-friendly as it takes a lot of cotton and energy.
On average, about one tonne of cotton is needed for every one million banknotes,
According to Bank Negara Malaysia, to print 500 million RM1 and RM5 banknotes – the most commonly seen denominations in ang pows – involves the use of at least 80 tonnes of ink and requires two million KWh of electricity.
The energy is enough to power 7,500 homes for a month, or light up 48,000 bulbs for a month.