The old 500-riel note, above, shows the Royal Crest to the left of the serial number; in the new note, below, the crest is missing.
Sharp-eyed citizens might have noticed the presence of the new 500 riel note. Released
last year, the bill features enhanced security features such as rainbow colors to
deter photocopy counterfeiters.
Gone is the pastoral planting scene. Instead there's a powerful rendition of Kampong
Cham's bridge - a Naga, a fastboat zooming up the Mekong, and something sportier
than a Toyota Camry crossing the architectural marvel.
On the reverse is an enlarged Angkor Wat. But something else: Gone too is the Royal
Coat of Arms. Why? CPP machinations, perhaps, or something simpler?
"[It] was issued because the government wanted to show the many achievements
it had made in its second term," says Mon Dareth at the National Bank.
When asked why the Coat of Arms was removed, Dareth says he didn't know it had been.
Examining the new note against an older version, he says he has no idea who designed
The finance ministry says the decision rests with the bank, but other bank officials,
including Governor Chea Chanto, won't talk.
And the change doesn't sit well with Prince Norodom Chakrapong: "If the last
one had the Royal Coat of Arms, then the new one must have the same because we are
still in the Kingdom of Cambodia," says Chakrapong. He too would like to know
what happened, but feels the motives are likely less than pure. His opinion: "This
was not done innocently."