The head of cultural watchdog group the National Culture and Morality Center and a group of monks from Siem Reap have requested the government scrap its new 100 riel banknote, calling the depiction of the Buddha on the country’s smallest currency offensive.
The new salmon and brown banknote, released this month, features King Norodom Sihanouk and the Buddha on one side, and the Silver Pagoda and a statue of Buddha on the other.
Bo Samnang, chairman of the morality centre, said the banknote, worth about 2.5 cents, was unacceptable.
“A 100 riel note is the lowest currency in Cambodia and Buddha is of the highest status, higher than the royal king; this is unacceptable to have his photo on the currency,” said Samnang, adding he had received “so many” complaints about the note since its release.
Association of Life and Hope’s Venerable Lorm Loeum, based at Wat Tomnak pagoda in Siem Reap, echoed the sentiment, saying he was concerned about how the bills would be treated.
“This is awful, as normally people keep money in pockets and even their bras for women,” he said. “This is very offensive to the Buddha. I urge the government to consider this and withdraw that Buddha picture from currency.”
However, Sambo Mannara, history lecturer at Pannasastra University, said he didn’t believe the new banknote was disrespectful.
A government spokesman couldn’t be reached for comment on the note.