Don’t call it a comeback: General Aung San returning to Myanmar’s currency

General Aung San, Myanmar’s founder and father of NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, will next year reappear on major currency notes for the first time since notes bearing his likeness were largely discontinued following the 1988 student uprising that made his daughter a democratic icon.

The news came at the tail end of a press conference yesterday at which Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) vice president Bo Bo Nge was discussing a coming relaxation of rules governing foreign banks’ branch networks.

“We are working towards getting this done,” Bo Bo Nge told reporters of the planned return of the Bogyoke to currency notes.

“This process requires careful and proper planning but the currency notes should be in circulation in 2019,” he added.

In the past, General Aung San’s likeness has been on several sets of banknotes issued by Myanmar’s treasury department. In 1972, he was featured on the K25 note. In 1973, the K5 and K10 notes featured his image; in 1976, K100 notes; and in 1979, K50 notes.

35 Kyat Note with Image of General Aung San
35 Kyat Note with Image of General Aung San

After the military-led State Laws and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) took power in 1988, the CBM discontinued the Lion and Aung San series, after his daughter became an icon following the 1988 student protest movement.

Since then, the only legal tender in circulation that includes the general is the K10 note. However, the value is so small that we hardly see the note in circulation.

10 Kyat Note with Image of General Aung San
10 Kyat Note with Image of General Aung San

In 2013, there was an initiative by MPs to reintroduce General Aung San to currency notes. In response, Khin Saw Oo, vice president of the CBM at the time, announced that they were working on a new series with “the country’s prominent leaders, buildings, landscapes and emblems.”

A proposal making that a reality passed in 2017 after 286 lawmakers from NLD, other lawmakers from USDP and a dozen ethnic parties supported the motion to reinstate the former general’s image in currency notes. One hundred and seven military appointees in the Lower House boycotted the proposal.

General Aung San was assassinated with other members of his cabinet in 1947.



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