Lure of the Singapore dollar

JOHOR BARU: Quality family time, social life and sleep are some of the sacrifices made by Malaysians crossing the border daily to make a living in Singapore.

Due to the attractive currency exchange rate and better salary packages, Muhammad Haziq Zulkifri is one of those who is willing to make these sacrifices.

For the past five years, the 28-year-old technician has been commuting to and from the republic daily.

“Being the eldest child, this is rather a small price to pay in order to make more money for my family.

“Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I could buy a rice meal with two side dishes for around RM5 here but these days, the same thing will cost me between RM8 and RM9,” he told The Star.Muhammad Haziq added that the lack of job opportunities and less attractive salary packages were among the reasons hundreds of thousands of people flock across the border in search of greener pastures.

Citing the pay of an engineering graduate, he said a freshman would be offered RM2,700 here but in Singapore, he could get S$2,700 (RM8,874).

“The appealing exchange rate is a huge pull factor for many people,” he added.

Muhammad Haziq, who plans to get married next year, said he would continue working abroad as he hoped to save up enough money to start his own business here.

Another Malaysian, who only wished to be known as Alex, 33, said he finds comfort in knowing that his family’s finances are covered despite him having to face the hardships of a daily commute.

This includes missing some important family and social occasions such as the birthday celebrations and family gatherings.

“I have to wake up at 4.30am daily to beat the traffic jam at the Causeway and by the time I knock off work and return home to Johor Baru, it is already around 9pm.

“I would be too tired to go out to meet my friends.

“My mother has been asking when I am going to find a partner and get married,” he said.

Alex said his relatives also frequently complained about the rising price of groceries and perishables, which have gone up a few times this year.

“I have no choice but to power through to earn enough money to cover my family’s expenses so that my mother, who is a single mum, can get by comfortably without having to worry too much about finances,” he added.

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