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General Aung San one step closer to banknotes revival with Lower House vote

An image of a 1 kyat banknote printed with the image of General Aung San, which was previously in circulation.

The Lower House of Parliament has passed a bill in favour of again printing the image of the late General Aung San on banknotes, with the vote on Friday overcoming opposition from the chamber’s military bloc.

Aung San, Burma’s independence hero, the father of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and founder of the country’s modern-day armed forces, was once printed on several denominations of the Burmese kyat, but his image was phased out by the former military junta decades ago.

On Friday prior to its passage, eight lawmakers including a Tatmadaw MP debated the bill, which urges the Union government to print new currency notes with Aung San’s pictures in future. The bill was put forward by Aung Khin Win, an MP representing Myaing Township, Magwe Region, as a member of the National League for Democracy — Suu Kyi’s party.

Lieutenant Colonel Kyaw Min Hlaing argued against the bill while the other seven lawmakers who spoke on the proposed legislation supported it.

“It takes a certain period of time to produce new currency notes [to replace] those in circulation,” Kyaw Min Hlaing said Friday.

“Every year, billions of kyat are spent on printing currency notes. Designing and printing new currency notes will cost even more. Instead of changing the image on currency notes, it is more practical to strengthen the currency. Printing new currency notes should not be carried out while the nation’s pace of economic growth is slow.”

The bill was also supported by the Central Bank of Myanmar.

During Friday’s parliamentary deliberations, the entire bloc of military appointees rose to their feet in protest of the legislative proposal.

Nonetheless, Lower House Speaker Win Myint announced that the bill had passed on a vote of 286 in favour and 109 against.