JOHOR BARU - Architect Bazuki Muhammad has been having sleepless nights worrying about money after sending his daughter to study in the United States two weeks ago.
Bazuki's only child, Intan Nur Aisyah, 19, is studying Psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma.
He is among many Malaysian parents feeling the pinch due to the steep depreciation of the ringgit against the greenback.
"I am wondering how to pull through the next two years for my daughter's education if the ringgit continues to slide," he said yesterday.
Bazuki, 50, had originally planned to send his daughter to the United States last year but postponed the enrolment to this year.
"I never expected the exchange rate to jump from RM3.20 (S$1.08) to RM4.11 within a year.
"Three weeks ago, I changed RM3,800 for US$1,000 for Intan's expenses. Now I have to pay RM4,100 to get the same amount of US dollars," he said.
Bazuki said he planned to send Intan US$700 (S$986) monthly but if the ringgit continued to weaken, it would take a tremendous toll on his finances.
The architect praised Permaisuri Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah's initiative to help Malaysian students in the United States and Britain and hoped that she would understand his predicament.
"When I saw the news, I took a snapshot on my smartphone and started circulating it to my family and friends, telling them my hope to get her help," he said.
Retired engineer Anita Muhammad, 53, who had studied in Britain 30 years ago, also commended Raja Zarith Sofiah for her concern towards Malaysian students abroad.
"As someone who studied abroad, I understand what kind of dilemma students may be going through. I truly admire her sensitivity, as she has always stressed on issues involving education," she said.
Johor state leaders, including Women and Family Affairs Committee chairman Asiah Md Ariff and DAP policy director Wong Shu Qi, also applauded Raja Zarith Sofiah's efforts.
"I highly appreciate Her Majesty's concern and care towards Malaysians studying abroad, who might be facing financial difficulties," said Asiah.
Wong said Raja Zarith Sofiah's generosity should be commended.
"It is our responsibility to ensure bright students will not be forced to drop out because of financial constraints faced by their families," she said.