New Cambodian Banknotes Raise Questions Among Lao Citizens

Cambodia's new KHR 200, with the Three-headed elephant from Laos's former flag.

People from Laos expressed their confusion after the official release of KHR 200 banknotes as they contained a similar motif to Laos’s erstwhile flag.

Last week, the government of Cambodia officially introduced two new banknotes, including KHR 200 and KHR 2000. However, the former came to the attention of residents in Laos, as they thought that the three-headed elephant on the left side of the note is from the Royal Lao flag.

Lao people took to social media to express their doubts and concerns on the matter. While some said that they do not mind the design as the country no longer uses the old flag, others accused Cambodia of copying the three-headed elephant from Lao’s old flag onto their banknotes.

“For real! This country [Cambodia] just claims that everything is theirs!”, one social media lashed out on social media.

“The three-headed elephant no longer represents Laos. If Cambodia wants to use it, let them do so,” reasoned another person on the platform.

“Even if this is true, we should just leave them alone. The three-headed elephant flag belongs to the old regime when Laos used to be The Kingdom of Laos, however, that regime has already been overthrown, and we are now known as Lao PDR,” expressed another social media user, receiving support from several others.

Despite the diverse opinions of the Lao people, neither the Cambodian government nor its relevant departments have addressed the issue yet.

Both the new banknotes received the green light to be circulated along with the other available currency right after their announcement.

Three-headed elephant flag of The Kingdom of Laos used from 1952-1975 | Photo credit: Laos-guide-999

When Laos was the Kingdom of Laos, the country’s flag was red. The center of the flag saw a white three-headed elephant standing on a five-level pedestal representing the kingdoms of Vientiane, Luang Prabang, and Champasack that made up the country. The three-headed elephant flag symbolized Lao’s ancient name, “Land of a Million Elephants”, and the flag was used from 1952 until 1975.