Ahad, 8 Disember 2013

The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Xmas cheer at Petaling Street


KUALA LUMPUR: Petaling Street is proving to be the "hotspot" this Christmas for shoppers on a tight budget.

Such shoppers are crowding the stores in search of gifts to buy and with the reasonable prices there, many seem more than satisfied.

One of them, who only wished to be known as Sarah, 36, said she started preparing for a red-and-gold-themed Christmas two months ago.

"I haven't had a family reunion since 1986! My two brothers will be coming back from the United States, which means I will have lots to do,'' she quipped.

She praised iDecor Home for having the item she wanted. "I looked all over, and this was the only shop that had a wreath I really liked," she added.

The shop's assistant, Doris, said sales for Christmas trees and decorations were better than in the past.

"A lot of customers bought the plain, green tree to be adorned with their own desired decorations," said the 70-year-old.

Nicholas, 16, said Hello Planet, another shop selling decorations, was a lot busier during Christmas.

"The Christmas trees with acorns on them are probably the best-sellers overall. The large-sized trees, along with the Christmas tree lights, sold out quickly," he said.

Charles and Charlotte, a young couple at the same store, were browsing for the perfect tree among the ones displayed.

"We want our tree to be covered in snow, with gold and white decorations around it. We just started our Christmas shopping," said Charles.

For others, discounted items around the area were already their first choice.

Molly, a church worker, said the Nu Lycie Sdn Bhd store had great discounts and was her favourite gift buying spot.

"I'm currently buying Christmas-themed tin boxes for my cousins and church members," said the 45-year-old.

The store's manager, who wanted to be known as Miss Lai, said that she had prepared stocks two months ago.

"We have customers from east Malaysia who want to buy our wholesale items. We need time to ship their orders by sea.

"Among our best-selling items are the golden tinsel and Christmas baubles," she added.

Suspend loan payments of flood victims, banks urged


ALL banks have been urged to provide a moratorium on loan payments to customers affected by the floods.

Party president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said this would help alleviate the victims' hardship.

He praised Maybank for offering a suspension on payments, adding that all banks should do the same.

"As Finance Minister, I hereby ask all banks to provide a temporary moratorium," said Najib in his winding-up speech.

On Thursday, Maybank announced a six-month cessation on monthly loan instalment payments and waiver of certain charges based on a case-by-case basis for customers in Pahang, Johor and other areas affected by the floods.

In a statement, the bank said the suspension of payments was being extended to business banking, small and medium enterprise (SME) banking and consumer banking customers, between December 2013 and May 2014.

Najib also announced a RM500 cash aid for flood victims as a gesture of the Government's empathy for the difficulties they faced.

"I feel very sympathetic for our friends affected by the floods ... I know that they must be going through a very difficult time at this moment," he said.

Najib, who had rushed back to Pahang to observe the situation after opening the assembly on Thursday, said his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also National Disaster Management Committee chairman, had visited the flooded areas and had issued directives to all government departments and agencies to provide help to the flood victims.

After the assembly, Najib witnessed the presentation of a RM500,000 cheque from Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB) to the NSTP-Media Prima Flood Relief Fund.

The cheque was handed over by MRCB group managing director Datuk Mohamad Salim Fateh Din.

Salim said the contribution was part of the company's corporate social responsibility programme in contributing to the less fortunate.

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JPJ to grade driving schools next year


KUALA TERENGGANU: The Road Transport Department (JPJ) will implement a grading system for all 195 driving institutes in the country next month.

The system is aimed at evaluating services provided by these institutes and rating them according to the number of stars in order to create healthy competition among the institutes.

Its director-general Datuk Ismail Ahmad said it had set up a special system of guidelines to grade the institutes nationwide.

"The institute with the best service will be categorised as five-star and the minimum is one star. We are confident in grading all institutes by the end of next year.

"The best institute will be recognised at a special award presentation ceremony.

"It is hoped that the system will motivate others," he told reporters after opening a new institute in Batu Buruk here yesterday.

Ismail said the steep rise in the number of vehicles and motorists required many new driving institutes to be set up to accommodate more learner drivers.

The department, he said, would also introduce a driver education co-curriculum next year to emphasise awareness, discipline and prudence on the road. — Bernama

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