It's been issued to mark the victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) but perhaps with a crafty eye on the approaching Presidential polls in January.
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has issued a commemorative Sri Lankan rupees 1000 note with the picture of serving President Mahinda Rajapaksa on one side and a group of soldiers hoisting the Sri Lankan flag - like five US marines did at Iwo Jima in Japan in World War II - on the reverse.
The CBSL said the note marked ``the ushering of peace and prosperity to Sri Lanka'' after the Tigers were defeated. Ironically, the note shows soldiers of the army hoisting the flag; Rajapaksa is set to meet former army chief Sarath Fonseka on January 26.
It is rare for even for heads of states to be placed on a currency note. In India, Mahatma Gandhi, in the US Abraham Lincoln and George Washington and the Queen of England are some of the leaders and heads of states whose pictures were put on currency. His own government, of course, now sees Rajapaksa, as the sole vanquisher of the LTTE, at least. "The theme on the obverse of the note is one country and one nation in harmony, progressing towards prosperity under the leadership of President, Mahinda Rajapaksa," the CBSL said.
Mangala Samaraweera, part of the United Front opposition, has said he would lodge a complaint with the Election Commission that the release of this note close to an election amounts to campaigning via a currency note. He added that pictures of living leaders have never been used on currency notes in the country before and said it was "undemocratic."
"We have already issued 63 boxes with 50000 notes in each to various commercial banks. More will be issued continuously," WR Dharmaratna, assistant superintendent, currency at CBSL said.
This is only the second time that the CBSL has issued a commemorative note. The first was issued in 1998 to mark the 50th Anniversary of Sri Lanka's independence. It's also the first time that a serving President has been put on a currency note. Two previous Presidents only managed to get on to a Re 1 coin.
It is rare for a country's flag to be part of the artwork of a currency note because of the protocols involving the correct placement, display and use of flags. But in this case, the Lankan flag is shown to be hoisted in its full glory by five soldiers.
Errors have been pointed out too. Like the soldiers have Mongoloid features, their uniform including boots don't have the correct colours and the name of the printer has not been carried.