(Kota Melaka, Monday): Although the nation is entering into the seventh month of the economic crisis, there are still large sections of Malaysians who have not begun to feel its effects and pains.
The emporiums and supermarkets during the New Year holidays and even for the Gongxi double celebrations are packed with shoppers who are spending as if there is no tomorrow.
However, more and more groups of Malaysians are beginning to feel the bite of the economic crisis.
This morning I met someone who was trying to resolve his sisterís housing loan problem. His sister had bought a double-storey terrace in Bandar Sunway, Petaling Jaya about five years ago and had taken out a RM120,000 housing loan from a local bank.
On 12th January, she received a letter from the bank informing her that with the rise in the Bank Base Lending Rate, her monthly instalment payment of RM1,162 has now to be revised.
She had taken out a 15-year loan and after paying for the past five years, has still an outstanding amount of RM109,944.98.
The bank told her that the new monthly instalment she would have to pay would now be RM1,703 - which is an increase of about 50 per cent.
The bank offered to reduce the monthly instalment to RM1,404 on the condition that the loan repayment period be extended by another five years!
This is a problem all Malaysians who have taken housing loans would have to face, an increase of about 50 per cent in their monthly housing repayments to the banks.
If the interest rate rises higher, as suggested by the International Monetary Fund, then there would be further increases in monthly instalment payments in the coming months - and there is a likelihood of several upward revisions with the progressive increase of the interest rate, official or unofficial, in the coming months.