An impression on Myanmar Legal Tender Notes

Tommy Pauk



These days, most of the people in Myanmar are talking and criticizing about the feature and figures printed on all the denominations of  Myamar legal tender notes or currency notes. Almost all the independent countries feature the portraits of their patriotic leaders or national heroes on the local currency notes in honor of their glory and fame. At present in Myanmar , the obverse sides of all the denominations of legal tender notes have figures of  lion or elephant and Myanmar emblem depicting two elephants raising the white lotus. On the other side of the currency notes, the figure of Myanma Chin lone (Typical Myanma cane-ball game)  players playing on the ground of field in the countryside ( 5-kyat note ), the picture of the scene of the fountain decorated with elephants in the  People’s square in Yangon ( 20-kyat note), the figure of a man making a Myanma  lacquer-ware item ( 50-kyat note ), the figures of typical artisan work ( 100-kyat note), the image of an elephant working in the Myanma Timber Extraction Industry (200-kyat note ), the picture of Mandalay moat ( 10000-kyat note ), the picture of  the building of Central Bank of Myanmar ( 1000-kyat note). The picture of the Hluttaw buildings (Parliament Buildings in Nay Pyi Taw) ( 5000-kyat note ) and a portrait of the king’s general
(probably  Maha Ban Doo La or Myaddy Min Gyi U Sa) at the work site(500-kyat ). These are featured on various denominations. Exceptionally, the 1-kyat note which features the portrait of General Aung San on the obverse side still remains in the circulation.
Actually, we the citizens wish to feature the portrait of General Aung San (Bogyoke Aung San) and historical prominent figures of Myanmar especially on the obverse sides of the currency notes on various denominations so that the next generation might remember their patriotic spirits whenever they carry the local currency. Even then, they can tell the foreigners and tourists about the Myanmar national heroes and prominent figures while they are visiting in Myanmar. Normally, when we are in a foreign country on a certain purpose, we ought to carry or use their local currency. In that case, we see the portraits of their leaders on the currency notes, we are inclined to know who they are and what they did well to their country. Through seeing the portrait of the leader on the currency notes we can learn a brief history of the country in which we are visiting. Likewise, foreigners and tourists visiting in Myanmar are curious to know who the person in the picture on the currency note is.
As we all know that Myanmar currency is called kyat. MMK is an acronym used in the financial market like SD or USD. During the periods of Parliamentary Democracy and the ruling of the Burma Socialist Programme Party, the reverse sides of legal tender notes were featured with figures of Myanmar lion, elephant, peacock, a typical Myanmar girl weaving textile at her typical house,  a toddy palm climber climbing in Myanmar countryside, the elephant assisting in Myanma timber extraction industry and an awesome scene of a leg rower rowing his small boat in the inlay lake. Each denominated note on obverse side was featured with the conspicuous head figure of General Aung San, our national hero. Noticeably, just before the end of the ruling BSPP era, Central Bank of Myanmar issued new denominations. They were 90- kyat- note and 45- kyat- note for circulation which were featured with the portraits of Sayar San (Peasants’ Leader in the British colonial period) and Ar-lar –wa –ka Thakhin Phoe Hla Gyi ( Workers’ Leader in the British colonial period : Chauk BOC land oil field Labour strike  leader ). Their portraits were depicted on legal tender notes in honor of  their selfless sacrifices for the grass root people of Myanmar during the British colony. The portraits of General Aung San, Sayar San and Ar-lar –wa –ka Thakhin Pho Hla Gyi were embedded in the hearts of the all citizens in Myanmar because they used to carry the notes everyday for their livelihood and earning.
People from all walks of life remembered the hero and selfless leaders because they used money tender notes everyday indeed. Those currency notes reminded us that we should always respect our heroes and keep the patriotic spirit.  Apart from the locals, the foreigners and tourists had to use local currency or exchange foreign currency into local Myanmar kyat. When they saw the pictures of the famous leaders, they came to know who the honorable leader of Myanmar was and they acquired brief Myanmar historical background through learning from what the locals had said about the heroes featured on the currency notes.
Soon after the ruler of BSPP was ousted, the currency notes contained with the pictures of General Aung San, Saya San and Thakhin Phoe Hla Gyi vanished. Some notes had been demonetized by BSPP government in 1987. Afterwards, Central Bank of Myanmar issued new legal tender notes without the portraits of General Aung San. Ever since, people have been displeased
with the removal of the portrait of General Aung San on the
legal tender notes. Majority of people in Myanmar now have democratic rights to ask or demand for featuring the portrait of General Aung San, our national hero on the obverse sides of the currency notes on various denominations.
Printing of the picture of a leader on the Legal tender note in a certain country is essential as they reflect the history of it. Each country has its own currency in the form of note and coin. Denominations of legal tender notes and the sizes of notes may vary from one country to another. Nevertheless, they do have value and the pictures of the invaluable leaders are also featured on the note or coin symbolically. In the countries ruled by king or queen, the portraits of king or queen is featured on their currency notes and coins. E.g  The Great Britain, Kingdom of Thailand etc. Their people love to hold the notes with great respect.
We use coins in Myanmar as well. On the obverse side of the coins, a lion image is engraved and the string of flowers is engraved on the reverse side. In terms of Myanmar ; Goung – hnet Pan- (ေခါင္းနဲ႔ပန္း). Coins used in Myanmar are called Pyas. Some coins are equivalent to the value of Kyat. E.g  one kyat coin .These days Myanmar coins are rarely used for buying things in everyday life. In the days of our Myanmar king Min Donn , (မင္းတုန္းမင္းႀကီးလက္ထက္) there used to be a mint in Mandalay which made various coins to be circulated in the country. N.B. Gold, silver and bronze coins were made and the figure of peacock was engraved on the surface of the coins.
Everyone knows that the currency notes show the symbol of a country’s status of wealth and as a token of remembrance of honorable heroes of its own indeed. We humbly believe that the incumbent government and parliament members would be able to fulfill the above-stated wish of the people in very near future. We love to see the portrait of our national hero Bogyoke Aung San on the currency notes that we always carry them in our daily life. That is the common keen- interest and wish of the entire people indeed!

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