SINGAPORE — According to “Singapore math”, money spent in Malaysia by Singaporeans is negligible.
However, one content creator here is calling for Singaporeans to be more humble and less arrogant when shopping in Malaysia. His video, which has gone viral on YouTube and TikTok, has received widespread support.
With the Singapore dollar hitting an all-time high of S$1 to RM3.5 against the Malaysian ringgit last Tuesday (Oct 24), Singaporean YouTuber Loo Cheng Chuan, 51, anticipated that more Singaporeans will be making a trip down to Malaysia.
Mr Loo, who makes videos educating Singaporeans about finance, made the news previously for reaching S$1 million in combined Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings between him and his wife at the age of 45 in 2018.
In his recent video, Mr Loo claims that some Singaporeans flaunt their wealth in Malaysia by buying groceries in bulk and eating lavishly, without realising how privileged they are.
Dubbing it as “bird people” behaviour, Mr Loo urged Singaporeans to be more “sensitive” of Malaysians.
“Because of the powerful Singapore dollar, things become so cheap, we always say ‘cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap’, right?
“Do you know how a Malaysian (would) feel?”
Speaking to TODAY, the financial educator said that he was inspired to make the video when he noticed the ever-growing traffic jams at the customs checkpoints to Malaysia from Singapore that can come up to a nine-hour-long wait, which he partly attributes to the stronger Singapore dollar against Malaysian ringgit.
Admitting that he is guilty of the “bird” mentality as well, Mr Loo said that he had made the video as a reminder to himself and others to be gracious when shopping in Malaysia.
When enough “birds flock to the shop”, prices will increase, Mr Loo warned in his video.
He told TODAY that the price difference between Singapore and Malaysia is no longer three times cheaper. Instead, Singaporeans stand to save around 30 per cent to 50 per cent when shopping in Malaysia as prices there have gone up.
“Don’t flaunt your purchases, don’t flaunt your Singapore dollar and don’t flaunt your meals,” he continued.
Calling the behaviour “miserly” in Hokkien, Mr Loo urged Singaporeans to be more humble as they are simply lucky to have “won the lottery game by being born in the right country” with a stronger currency.
“Things can change very suddenly (for Singapore),” he told TODAY.
The YouTube video, uploaded last Thursday, has had close to 50,000 views and 100 comments in less than a week.
Most viewers supported Mr Loo’s take.
One viewer commented: “Totally agree with you. I always remind my wife, mother and sister about this every time we go in.”
A viewer offered another perspective: “Many of these ‘bird’ customers are actually poor Singaporeans. That’s why they are very price-sensitive to the extent of sacrificing convenience and quality to do grocery shopping in Malaysia.”
Some online users offered tips to be a gracious consumer in Malaysia: “One way to be more generous would be to tip for good service like Grab rides, massage or pedicure, and the likes.”
Another had a more unconventional way of doing so: “When I buy stuff in Johor Bahru, I will never say out loud that it is ‘cheap, cheap’.
“But, when the shop owner gives me change, I will refuse it and whisper discreetly in their ears… ‘Please keep the change, your prices are really too low’.”
Asking Singaporeans to put themselves in Malaysians’ shoes, one online user rationalised: “Assuming one day it is the reverse, Malaysian ringgit rises above the Singapore dollar and they (Malaysians) behave the same way in Singapore, would Singaporeans like it?”