Parliament to Consider Reinstating Gen Aung San on Currency

By San Yamin Aung 27 October 2017

YANGON — It has been nearly three decades since the former military junta phased out pictures of the country’s late independence hero Gen. Aung San on the bank notes.

But on Friday, a proposal to once again put the late hero’s image on currency was agreed to discuss at the Lower House.

National League for Democracy (NLD)’s lawmaker U Aung Khin Win of Magwe Region’s Myaing Township submitted a proposal on Friday urging the Union Government to issue future notes showing the face of Gen. Aung San.

“It goes without saying that people would love to use banknotes with the image of Bogyoke rather than with pictures of a lion or elephant,” he told parliament.

Pictures of Gen. Aung San were first printed on currency notes in 1958, 10 years after he was assassinated along with other eight colleagues. Thakhin Pho Hla Gyi, who was a central figure in the first oil field workers’ protest against British oil companies in the colonial era, and Saya San, who was a central figure in the massive peasants’ rebellion against the British rulers, also featured on the 45 kyat note and 95 kyat notes in 1987.

But those bills were gradually removed from circulation after 1988, the year of a crackdown by the ruling military regime on pro-democracy protestors. The banknotes were later redesigned with a lion or elephant on the front and the country’s famous buildings and landscapes on the other side.

Until today, individual collectors still keep bank notes with Aung San’s image. They can still be found for sale by street vendors in Yangon as novelty items, in denominations as low as 1 kyat.

MP U Kan Myint of Magwe Region’s Thanyat Township seconded the proposal on Friday.

He said in other countries banknotes feature the pictures of kings, queens, heroes and prominent figures in honor of their efforts. America’s George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and more are featured. China’s Mao Zedong, India’s Mohandas Gandhi, Thai’s Bhumibol Adulyadej are also all featured on banknotes in their respective countries, he added.

“It is really sad to see Myanmar’s currency feature animals rather than heroes,” he told the MPs.

He previously asked last November if there a plan to replace banknotes with Gen. Aung San pictures.

At the time of U Kan Myint’s question, the Central Bank mentioned Myanmar’s economic stability, saying the cost of replacing the banknotes of various denominations with redesigned notes could be between 100 billion to 300 billion kyats.

“My proposal is totally different from the previous question. We will need to print new banknotes to replace the damaged notes or to release new sizes or new denominations. At that time, we can print with Bogyoke Aung San pictures,” MP U Aung Khin Win told MPs.

He added that the new banknotes have been printed every two or three years. In 2009, the Central Bank released the 5, 000 kyat notes and in 2012, 10, 000 kyat notes and in 2014, the new size of 200, 500, 1000 kyat notes.