She's planning to buy her dream house

She's planning to buy her dream house
PHOTO: The New Paper

While Singaporeans cheer the plummeting Malaysian ringgit, the slumping value is a double-edged sword for Malaysians living in Singapore.

There was no way she could have secured a job that would pay her RM5,000 ($1,681) if she had remained in Sarawak.

"Impossible," said manicurist Betty Sii, 25.

"My highest education is PMR (Malaysia's version of the GCE O Levels). Nobody will offer that kind of money there," she added.

The impossible, however, became possible when the exchange rate slumped to a low of RM3.03 to the Singapore dollar last Tuesday.

"I was definitely happy (about the exchange rate) when I saw the news," she said.

"It means that I am earning about RM6,000 now. That wouldn't have been possible at home."

According to the latest salary guide by recruitment company Kelly Services, RM6,000 is the monthly pay of an accountant with a degree and three years of work experience.

"If I were in Sarawak, I could only dream of a pay cheque like that," she added.

With her $2,000 salary, Miss Sii is able to pay her $600 room rent here and give her mother - who lives in her hometown of Miri in Sarawak - a monthly allowance of RM1,000.

Meanwhile, the attractive exchange rate has pushed Miss Sii to seriously consider a bigger financial commitment - buying a three-bedroom house back home.

She claims to have been contemplating the idea for quite some time.

"The property that I'm looking at would cost me about RM200,000 but I should be able to afford it with my current salary," she said. "If I get a house for myself now, it would be good for me in the future.

"Anything can happen, so at least if I start now, then I'll have something waiting for me if I had to move back," she added.

MEASLY PAY

Before she moved to Singapore in April 2013, Miss Sii tried working in Malaysia for about five months, taking up a job as a salesgirl in a retail store.

"My basic pay was RM800. There was commission too but the most I ever got for it was RM200," she said.

Earning a measly pay cheque made life feel completely different to what it is like now.

She said: "It was tough to live with that kind of pay.

"Even if things are cheaper there, it's really hard to live on RM1,000."

While the exchange rate makes it cheaper for Miss Sii to support her mother, she is worried about how the bad economy will affect prices back home.

She said: "It's a good thing for me but this also means that things over there could start getting more expensive and that's my only worry.

"If it does start getting expensive, then eventually, the increased exchange rate will not mean as much to Malaysians working here."

Miss Sii's 36-year-old sister is also based in Singapore. Her sister works as a facial therapist.

"My brother is working in a publishing house in Sarawak while my sister and I are living and working here in Singapore."

Being able to travel back home only twice a year is tough on Miss Sii but the bigger picture is more important to her than anything else.

"I get homesick and I miss my family but I always try my best to focus on why being here is good.

"Me being homesick is not as important as my mum being able to live comfortably back home.

"And that is reason enough for me to look past everything else."

crobert@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on September 1, 2015.
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