English World

No rupee rage for Malaysian travellers

KUALA LUMPUR: Indian nationals visiting and living in Malaysia say they are not badly affected by the Indian government’s decision to demonetise the 500 rupee and 1,000 rupee notes as they travel with United States dollars and rely on credit or debit cards.

Engineer Uday Shankar, 43, said he did not usually carry large amounts of Indian currency while travelling.

“Exchanging currencies is not a problem for me as I don’t carry large amounts of cash. It’s easier to use debit or credit cards.

“I will be leaving for India on Dec 1 and it is almost impossible to exchange the currency here in Kuala Lumpur, so I will change my money at the airport or in India,” he told the New Sunday Times yesterday.

Uday called Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s move to ban the notes as bold and long overdue, and said it would combat the black money menace plaguing the nation.

On Tuesday, Modi announced that the 500 and 1,000 rupee notes would not be valid from midnight, and would be replaced with new 500 and 2,000 rupee notes from Thursday.

The old notes can be exchanged for new ones over the next 50 days.

The move was part of a crackdown on corruption and illegal cash holding.

Programme developer Sateesh Siddham Shetty, 30, who will be flying to Hyderabad with his family on Nov 23, said in the days following the announcement, it was difficult to exchange the notes.

However, the situation had improved and the notes could be exchanged at several areas here, such as at Masjid Jamek.

“It’s not easy to exchange currencies at malls as they run out of stock quite fast. I prefer heading to Masjid Jamek to exchange my notes.

“Besides, I don’t usually travel with a large amount of cash,” he said, adding the Indian government’s move was commendable.

Bank staff Ahmad Fikri Hassan Basri, 26, who has been in India for a month on a working visit, said he had brought 50,000 rupees for expenses in 500 rupee denominations, and was facing difficulties going about his daily routine.

“Because the announcement was so sudden, I was unable to buy lunch and dinner that day and had to depend on my colleagues because vendors and restaurants stopped accepting the notes,” he said.

“My colleagues and I queued at a local bank branch for almost two hours before they declared that the notes were out of stock.

We had to go the bank’s headquarters in MG (Mahatma Gandhi) Road and present our passports to exchange the notes.

“The process was tedious and challenging because of the traffic, as well as Friday being the first day of the bank branch opening after a three-day closure.”-nst

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