The Malaysian Ringgit traded at RM 2.99 to S $1 on January 15, the highest rate it’s had in fourteen months, when it consistently traded above RM 3. The ringgit’s strength is due to rising oil prices worldwide, as well as the country’s strong performance in trade. This is the first time that the currency is seeing a reversal after a considerable period of decline.
This has meant, however, that Singaporean money changers are seeing the demand for the ringgit go down. For some, the demand for Malaysian currency is down as much as thirty percent. Additionally, there is a possibility that fewer people will take regular trips to Johor Baru, since these trips may be curtailed as the ringgit rises against the Singdollar. A stronger ringgit makes the trip less financially worthwhile.
The first Vice President of Singapore’s Money Changers’ Association, Mr Barakath Ali, said, “We expect that the ringgit will either appreciate further or maintain its present level until the Malaysian election,” which are scheduled for August of this year.
Still, many businessmen are confident that people will be back to buy the ringgit again soon, attributing the drop in sales to the yearly post-holiday lull. Especially since Chinese New Year is approaching, Malaysians who live and work in Singapore, and even Singaporeans themselves, will need to buy more ringgit to spend in Malaysia for Chinese New Year shopping.
What has been bad news for some Singaporeans is good news for Malaysians, however. There have been sweeping complaints from Malaysian citizens over higher costs of living, especially for goods imported from other countries. The better the ringgit is doing, the more Malaysians are able to afford.
Netizens expressed their opinion that people will continue to visit Johor Baru, despite the rise of the ringgit, arguing that at any rate Malaysia has much to offer visitors.