Aung San banknote

General Aung San (1915-1947)

"We cannot bank our hopes on possibilities. We must put our trust in ourselves, in our capabilities and efforts and strength and preparations not only for our success but even to avoid our own defeat."

Aung San, affectionately known as ‘Bogyoke’ (Major General), was a Burmese politician and revolutionary. He served as the 5th Premier of the British Crown Colon of Burma from 1946 to 1947. Originally a communist, Aung San evolved his political views to become a social democrat later in his career. He was known as a revolutionary, nationalist, and as the founder of the Tatmadaw (modern-day Myanmar Armed Forces), and is considered as the Father of the Nation of contemporary Myanmar; having brought about Buma’s independence from British rule, although, tragically, he did not live to see his country’s liberation as he was assassinated six months before. Aung San remains widely admired by the Burmese people and his name is still incurred in politics today. His legacy lives on in his daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi, is a stateswoman and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Pictures of the late independence hero were first printed on currency notes in 1958, ten years after he was assassinated alongside eight colleagues. The banknotes were phased out during the rise of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the pro-democracy movement that followed the 1988 student uprising. The notes were redesigned to feature a lion or elephant on the front, with famous cultural and architectural landmarks on the reverse.

In 2017, 286 lawmakers from the ruling National League for Democracy Party voted to reinstate the image of Aung San, despite opposite from 107 unelected military representatives who boycotted the vote. “It goes without saying,” argue lawmaker U Aung Khing Win, “that people would love to use banknotes with the image of Bogyoke rather than with pictures of a lion or elephant."

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