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Ringgit's slide triggers rush to snap it up

SINGAPORE — The ringgit slumped to a 10-month low against the Singdollar today (Dec 1), prompting many to rush to money-changers to snap up the Malaysian currency.

Malaysian ringgit bank notes. Photo: Reuters

Malaysian ringgit bank notes. Photo: Reuters

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SINGAPORE — The ringgit slumped to a 10-month low against the Singdollar today (Dec 1), prompting many to rush to money-changers to snap up the Malaysian currency.

The ringgit’s sudden steep decline came amid fears that tumbling global oil prices will hit oil-exporter Malaysia.

As of 5pm today, S$1 could buy RM2.63 — a 2.3 per cent slide from last week’s rate of RM2.57. The last time the ringgit fell to a similar level was on Feb 13 this year, when the ringgit closed at 2.627 against the Singdollar.

Mr Mohamed Rafeeq, the Money Changers Association of Singapore’s secretary, said many money-changers at Raffles Place were shocked at the falling value of the ringgit today.

“We thought there was some mistake, then more and more people started coming to change money. But after seeing that we could only sell our current stock at the previous rate which was 2.57, (the customers) went away and said they would wait until we had new stock which we could sell at a lower price,” he told TODAY over the phone.

He said he was not worried as he expected the ringgit to remain low for at least another week.

Two other money-changers reported brisk business today, although they did not say what rate they offered for the ringgit.

Mr Siraydin, of Sirajudin Money Changer, saw almost double the number of daily customers at his shop in People’s Park Complex.

“Normally, (we get) about 30 people, today more people came to change to ringgit — about 50-plus,” he told TODAY.

Mr Mohamed Rafi, who owns M.M. Shariff Traders, said his shop in The Arcade — a popular money-changing hub in Raffles Place — saw a 50 per cent jump in the number of customers buying the ringgit.

Malaysian Chew Zhi Loon, 27, who works as an actuarial executive in Singapore, said he plans to take advantage of the falling ringgit to remit more money home. Mr Chew, who sends money to his parents once every few months, added that he had never remitted money at such a low rate.

Singaporean Rosnah Hussin, 30, who travels to Johor Bahru up to twice a week plans to “stock up” on ringgit.

“I go to JB to buy groceries, pump petrol and even wash my car because it is cheaper there,” said the student relations officer.

The ringgit also fell hard, at 2.5 per cent, against the American dollar — its biggest two-day slide since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

Analysts have said that Malaysia, whose oil-related industries account for a third of the country’s revenue, is likely to be the Asian country which will be hit hardest by the sudden steep decline in oil prices.

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