New five-hundred kyat (US 36 cents) currency notes depicting Gen Aung San have been spotted in Lashio, located in northern Shan State.
The late Aung San led Burma’s democracy movement towards independence from British rule in 1948, but he was assassinated about six months before the country achieved independence.
It’s the second time this year that notes have been printed with Aung San. On January 7, the government printed 1,000 kyat bills.
Kyat notes depicting the Bamar (Burmese) war hero disappeared under Burma’s State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) and State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) military regimes.
The Central Bank of Myanmar printed the new bills on July 19, and distributed them to retired government employees as part of pension payments.
The red-brown notes, measuring 130 mm by 70 mm, depict the Central Bank of Myanmar building on the back side. This drew criticism from some for including a red flag in front of the bank image.
Some ethnic people expressed disappointment that the ‘union’ was missing from the note and suggested the new currency is part of a NLD scheme to get re-elected during the 2020 general election on November 8. They prefer the bank to be called by its original name ‘Union Bank of Burma’ because they say it’s more inclusive of all of the country’s ethnic groups and not only Bamar.
“It’s a multi-ethnic country. I don’t know why they do this,” said Sai Aye, from Lashio.
Aung San is the father of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
Others remarked that it’s much better to print the notes with Gen Aung San’s image than with a chinthe (lion) like most of Burma’s currency. One Lashio pensioner says many countries print currency notes honoring their past national leader.