Saturday, May 21, 2022

Rise of USD & SGD

In the past few weeks I have been keeping track of two currencies, namely, US and SG dollars respectively. The US dollar is still the global unit of exchange as most exports and imports are denominated in the American dollar. When it goes up, imports are more expensive and this adds to the rate of inflation across board including many essential items.  The SGD yesterday hit a high of 3.19 and soon it will be 3.25 RM to 1SGD. That's a remarkable rise since 2014 when I left Singapore for Sabah, as it was still less than 2.5RM to 1SGD. And also in August 2014, Ringgit Malaysia was doing reasonably well with the exchange rate of 3.15 to 1USD but now the rate is 4.4. The fall of the Malaysian Ringgit early 2015 coincided with the 1MDB financial crisis in Malaysia with billions siphoned off into off-shore accounts and personal accounts of politicians and other individuals. Until today we have no closure on 1MDB as the parties concerned are still on trial, some in USA and a few more in Malaysia.

Closer to home, we have had the case of the Director and Deputy Director of the Water Department being charged for illegal gains or corruption to the tune of RM150 million. No wonder infrastructure in the State is well behind other States when you have government officers acting like little Napoleons and their greed knows no bound. So at the confluence of several factors and events in the past two years, recession will hit many countries despite rosy numbers recently announced in Malaysia for the first quarter of 2022. As one opposition Member of Parliament put it, it is no longer the bottom 40% (B40) but B60 or B80 with the latter figure accurately applies to Sabah's general populace. The 10 percent of the reasonably wealthy and the 2% or 3% extremely wealthy does not hide the fact that 80% of the people are "poor" and at least 35% are extremely poor with no savings or emergency funds whatsoever. I would imagine my denomination's pastors of 400 plus strong are bracketed with the bottom 40% except for the pastors of a few English and Chinese congregations. Can we as a Church escape the poverty trap and raise the standard of living for the majority of pastors whom God has called? I always wonder when we preach a God who does miracles and blesses His people, how come many of His priests earn less than the minimum income of the land? One city pastor blurted out in his sermon that he earned only RM1,200 per month and he seemed happy with it despite his estimated salary with his 30 years' experience and qualification amounting close to RM3,000.00. Many pastors state-wide are underpaid to the tune of 50% in most cases, and some even worse with less than RM700.00 per month. When one converts that to USD and SGD, readers will realise how little God's servants are being paid. No wonder not many can afford to buy books. My book on Amazon published in 2005 is now priced at USD240.00 (RM1,000.00). And often times I have ordered books costing USD30-40 on Amazon which works out to be about RM200.00 a copy plus postage. 

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