September 7, 2015
COMMENT: I went to the local grocery in Phnom Penh to buy some food items three weeks ago, and proudly took out a RM50 note signed by Bank Negara Governor Zeti Aziz to pay for the bill of US 10 but the counter lady apologised for not accepting it. She asked me if I had Riels (Cambodian currency) or US Dollars. Of course I did.
But I was embarrassed all the same when she told me that she could not accept the Ringgit because she did not know what the exchange rate would be the following day. Ah, uncertainty is always a killer as in all things.
Then recently (September 1) at the Pochentong International Airport, Phnom Penh, when I arrived from Kuala Lumpur after a university business trip, which also enabled me to participate in Bersih 4.0, I exchanged RM50 to pay taxi charges and I got US 10 Dollars. (1 US Dollar =5 Ringgit). For this kind of insult and hurt, I am expected to be grateful to Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is already infamous in Phnom Penh for his RM 2.6 billion corruption scandal.
No way. In stead, he deserves to be removed unceremoniously from his 0ffice by the security guards, and then charged in our courts for corruption and abuses of power. For that to happen, we have to give the new Attorney-General Apandi Ali the boot.
Prime Minister Najib has betrayed us with his failed economic policies. Many of us, businessmen and academics alike here, think he is bad for Malaysia and the sooner he disappears from politics and resigns his premiership , the better it will be for Malaysia. He is pure toxicity for our country, to put it mildly.
Fellow Malaysians brace yourself for tough times. Expect more taxes ahead since our Treasury is almost empty. Soon Prime Minister Najib in his capacity as Finance Minister is going to have to sell bonds to the EPF, Amanah Raya, Perkeso, Tabung Haji, PNB, and the local banks forcing interest rates to rise, if he cannot raise new taxes.
Crony contractors can expect to be paid late. Retailers will have to downsize and retrench staff since sales have dropped by at least 40 per cent compared to 2014. Government servants should also wake up since the Najib government will not have the money to pay their salaries and allowances on time. This is the price these “saya yang menurut perentah” (I obey orders) types have to pay as accomplices to his mismanagement of our economy.–Din Merican
The Reality of the Falling Ringgit: Everyone feels the pinch except the Politicos
by Kalpana M@www,malaysiakini.com
While Malaysians are grumbling about the sharp fall in the value of the ringgit, foreigners who are working in this country are likewise feeling the pinch.
Fueled by the fall in crude oil prices and political uncertainty, the ringgit has lost almost 30 percent of its value compared to a year ago, now at around RM4.2 to 1 US dollar – its lowest since 1998. This is worrying enough to many Malaysians – even without considering the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) – but for foreigners who need to send money overseas, the problem is worse.
An estimated 2.3 million foreigners are working in Malaysia and they too have to tighten their belts. Genevieve F Dipolog-Ubanan, a 53-year-old English language assistant professor at a local university, said that she has had to make many changes in the face of the fallen ringgit.
She came to Malaysia from Mindanao, Philippines, at the encouragement of a friend who was working at the same university. When she arrived three years ago, a ringgit could buy around 13 pesos. Now it is only worth 11 pesos.
“Before GST and the ringgit depreciation, my shopping bag was a lot heavier from a RM150 shopping trip.I used to send half of my salary to my two sons in the Philippines, but after (the GST and the falling of the ringgit), I send two-thirds of my salary instead.
“Before, I would send them RM3,000, but now I have increased it to RM4,500,” she added.
She says that her sons are aware of the state of the Malaysian economy and her parents and siblings have advised her to return to the Philippines.
‘I’d leave, if not for contract’
Yin, a 45-year-old lecturer, would be considering the same option but she has to serve her contract.
“I have to bear it, because I am committed to my degree programme and it would be unethical to quit now,” said the medical doctor who only wanted to be known by her surname.
She hails from Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar, and said that the exchange rate between the ringgit and the Burmese kyat has fluctuated, making it necessary for her to cut back spending.
“I need to send about 40 percent of my earnings home because I am in the process of building a house for my mother.
“My husband lives in Canada, so he is not affected.However, we’re paying for a mortgage in Canada, which I need to pay a bit of, and that is affecting me more than it affects him.Every country has some sort of tax to pay, so the GST does not bother me that much.The ringgit, however, is worrying,” she said.
Yin and Dipolog-Ubanan have both had to trim down their expenses in Malaysia in order to send home a more or less fixed amount of money in their home currency.
Blue collared workers less hit
Interestingly, the fall of the ringgit has been less of an issue for blue-collar foreign workers compared to professional expatriates, as their families tend to accept any amount of money without question.
Sundari, 47, is an Indonesian who has been working as a domestic helper in Petaling Jaya for the past 15 years. She said that out of her monthly pay of RM1,000, the amount of money she sends home fluctuates, depending on her expenditures for the month. “Sometimes it’s RM700, sometimes it’s RM500. I send to my three children, and they quietly accept whatever I give them.They have jobs so they do not depend on me,” she explained.
Another Indonesian domestic helper, who only wanted to be known as Sri, said the same even though she has three family members. “I don’t think they have noticed much of a change,” she said. However, she noted that the fall of the ringgit was a relatively recent phenomenon, and that it may be too soon to tell if those receiving money from outside the country will start to feel the pinch.
Lifestyle changes required
For certain, Malaysians who have sent their children overseas are already feeling the pinch. Raymond Chan Fook Kong expects a significant increase in spending on his daughter’s education by the time she starts her third year at university.
The 57-year-old – a Malaysian whose daughter studies in the United Kingdom – said that he has had to fork out an extra 20 percent compared to before to maintain the amount of British pounds he has allocated for his daughter.
“The combination of GST and depreciation of the ringgit is a double whammy. I have noticed a change in my disposable income,” he said.
This has translated to changes in the lifestyles of both parents and child, as Chan has advised his daughter to watch her spending. “If the ringgit does not rise soon, we will have to continue to be thrifty and defer expenditure on durables like cars and renovations for the house.“We need to save for a rainy day,” he said.