M'sian heartthrob Remy Ishak says he's "more into Ramadan"

POPULAR: Malaysian actor Remy Ishak (second from right) with fans at CelebFest 2016.

Malaysian heart-throb Remy Ishak is not so much into Hari Raya Puasa festivities as he is the holy month of Ramadan.

Remy, who was in town on Saturday for CelebFest 2016, said: "My Hari Raya is always a simple one. I'm more into Ramadan.

"Ramadan is a month where all Muslims are more careful with their actions and try to behave and practise what Islam is about. This month makes me a better person.

"We are human beings and we make mistakes, and during this month, I truly reflect on the year that has passed and what I had done."

This year, the 34-year-old has generated the right kind of buzz with his latest film Redha.

The film title means to wholeheartedly accept a situation and it centres on a couple coming to terms with their young son's autism.

Remy plays Azim, a swimming instr-uctor who forms a bond with the boy.


Remy said: "Autism is not a topic that has been explored in Malaysian cinema and I'm happy to be in a movie like that.

"In Malaysia, we mostly focus on love stories and comedies, so it's been amazing to hear such great feedback from the audience and media. It makes me happy to see the kind of impact it is making.

"Living in this time, where things are so advanced, people are selfish and don't really care about others.

"Films like this, that teach people things and make people more aware of others who are suffering, are important."

Remy had to accept a situation himself recently.

His car, a Mitsubishi Triton, was stolen by an unidentified person in Selangor in March. He has dealt with the situation light-heartedly.

"It's gone and I haven't got (myself) a replacement. I have three cars, so I have back-ups," he joked.

We are human beings and we make mistakes, and during this month I truly reflect on the year that's passed and what I've done.

- Malaysian heart-throb Remy Ishak on Ramadan

M'sian star Elfira Loy swaps acting for fashion

M'sian actress-host Elfira Loy is moving on from acting and wants to design for petite women like her

DESIGNER: Malaysian actress Elfira Loy (above) debuted her new line of head scarves and cardigans called El by Elfira Loy at CelebFest 2016.
DESIGNER: Elfira with fans (above).

At 22, she is a household name and has more than 2.6 million Instagram followers.

But Malaysian actress-host Nurul Elfira Loy Ahmad Sabri, better known as Elfira Loy, may throw it all away.

"I don't want to (act anymore) because I think it's too much," she told The New Paper at CelebFest 2016: Ramadan Edition presented by RoseValley on Saturday.

She has moved on to fashion. Elfira has come up with her first fashion line of head scarves and cardigans called El by Elfira Loy.

The line was debuted at CelebFest, which took place over the weekend at the Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre.

The event saw 120 booths manned by local celebrities, including Norfasarie and Nurul Aini, promoting their businesses. Forty celebrities, including those from Malaysia and Indonesia, also appeared on stage and mingled with fans.

Elfira, who started acting at the age of 12 when her mother got her to join the cast of Ali Baba: The Musical Theatre (2006), said that although she enjoys acting, she is not going to pursue it actively.

She was hospitalised in March and it was believed to be due to being overworked.

But Elfira dismissed the rumours and said: "I contracted leptospirosis (a bacterial infection) through something I ate.

"This infection can result in death, it's very dangerous. I was lucky I went for treatment early, if not the doctors said I might not be here today."

Elfira's move to fashion is not a surprise for fans who have followed her since she started selling head scarves, T-shirts and phone cases under the label Twinkle by Elfira in 2014.

That, she said, "was just for the sake of giving fans something".

"I was trying different things to see what I liked, but now I want to make a proper career out of this.

"Having just graduated, I want to start my own business," said Elfira whohas a diploma in entertainment arts from KDU University College in Selangor.


She branched out into food and beverage last year with her cafe in Kuala Lumpur, Love Me Seven Days.

Now, she is going "all out" with a ready-to-wear line and a desire to design for petite Muslim women like her, because "long dresses and coats in the normal market are always too long".

"My main aim is to one day become a high street brand like H&M or Uniqlo," said Elfira, who is 1.52m tall.

Elfira is also the face of the campaign for British-Japanese designer Hana Tajima's third collection of modest fashion for Uniqlo.

"When I went to New York to shoot for Uniqlo, I was so inspired by (Tajima) and her collection. She designed everything herself and chose all the fabrics so I told myself that's what I want to do with my line - I want to be as involved," she said.

"I did everything (for) this line on my own, from the designs to the measurements... Like today, I'm setting up my booth myself.

"Some stars just put their name on products, but that's not me. I like to do it myself so I understand the hard work and what goes on behind it."

Her fashion advice is: Be yourself.

"When it comes to modest fashion, there are a lot of materials. If you have a complicated hijab style on top, keep it simple below and when your outfit is loud, a simple scarf will do."

Although fashion is her focus, she may return to acting. She also hopes to do more behind-the-scenes work.

And what of marriage?

"Love is nice. I'm open to it but I don't think anyone is brave enough to approach me because I'm always with my mum. I'm always home. I'm not like other teenagers who are always out," Elfira said.

"I'm a private person so I really don't think anyone dares to get to know me".

Some stars just put their name on products, but that's not me.

- Malaysian actress-host Elfira Loy on how she did 'everything' for her new fashion line

Deadly landslides hit Indonesia

At least 35 killed, 14 injured and 25 missing in Central Java

DEVASTATION: (Above) Indonesian villagers and rescue workers carrying the body of a landslide victim.
DEVASTATION: Rescue workers and villagers searching for victims. At least 25 people are missing.
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Police probing pro-govt posts

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Some debtors say maintaining cars puts them in debt

Some car owners tell Credit Counselling Singapore that maintaining a car put them in debt. This is especially pertinent now as the authorities relaxed vehicle financing restrictions on May 27. Two former car owners tell DAVID SUN (davidsun@sph.com.sg) how they got into debt

DEMAND: Last month, car loan guidelines were eased, allowing buyers to borrow up to 70 per cent of the car price.

The crippling debt that came with buying his car made owning one an irony - he had a car but could not afford to drive it.

Adam (not his real name, as he spoke on condition of anonymity), maxed out at least 12 credit cards and six credit lines, chalking up about $50,000 in debt - just to pay for the loan instalments and other essentials required to maintain a car.

The 32-year-old civil servant said it was the worst mistake of his life.

He bought a new off-peak hatchback in 2007 for $60,000. At that time, he was earning $2,300 a month.

By having a car, he thought a life of status and comfort awaited him.

But all he got in return was half a decade of "living hell".

"It was hell, really a living hell being in so much debt," he said.

"I was living comfortably before that, with some excess cash from my salary. I already had a big bike then, but I wanted more. I wanted a status symbol."

He was attracted by the fact that he did not have to place a down payment. Plus, he would get a $5,000 cash-back from the $60,000 loan the car package offered.

Adam signed a few forms and was soon driving off in his new car.

But within three months, when the money from the cash-back was depleted, he realised just how much of a mess he was in.

"It was a terrible mistake, a decision that I regretted almost immediately," he said.

"It wasn't just the $600 monthly instalments, but the petrol, parking, insurance and other hidden costs, which came up to about $1,000 a month."

Unable to pay up, he depended on credit cards and lines, opening accounts with six banks just to have enough money for his daily expenses.

Paying for his wedding in 2011 added to his debt, and his honeymoon was spent bitterly answering calls from the banks chasing him for payment.

He said: "I could not sleep. The banks kept calling and the first few months of my marriage were rough. I had many arguments with my wife."

His wife told TNP that she too had her own debt and it was only after the first few months of their marriage that they discovered more about each other's financial troubles.

"I remember that during our honeymoon, we kept receiving calls from the bank and it really affected the mood," said the 31-year-old.

"Later on we couldn't really spend on a lot of things. Going out wasn't even an option."


For Adam, the debt became too much to bear and the car became little more than a display piece as he could no longer afford to drive it around.

"I ended up paying so much for something I seldom even used," he said.

"I took out loans and credit lines to pay the bills, and ended up having to live on just $50 a month for two years after all my essential expenditures.

"It was like covering a hole only to dig another one over and over again."

He would get by with just one meal a day and even that meal was a homecooked one.

"If I really had to eat out with my friends, I would eat at home first before going," he said.

"I would then use the excuse that I'd already eaten at home, which was true."

He added that this drove him to take up even more loans from the banks.

"It was very hard to survive on that kind of amount monthly, which drove me to withdraw and use money that I did not have and did not belong to me," he said.

"It made it worse, to the point that I got blacklisted by the banks."

But there is a silver lining to his story.

At his lowest point, in 2012, he turned to Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS) for help, and they helped him get back on his feet.

CCS helped him by drawing up a debt management plan and negotiating with the banks.

He has since started to pay off his debt slowly through instalments, but he has had to change his lifestyle drastically.

"CCS helped me a lot, and I was able to save about $400 a month after that," he said.

"That allowed me to breathe and get back on my feet."

He sold his car in 2012, and is on track to clearing his debt by the end of next year.

Adam has become so traumatised by the experience that he said he will never buy a car again.

"I've done the calculations, and actually for me, taking a taxi every day is cheaper than getting a car," he said.

"So why would I ever want to get a car again?"

He advises those who are tempted to buy a car now because it seems cheaper to carefully reconsider.

"If you really must have a car, then make sure you write down your calculations and understand your financial situation," he said.

"If you don't need it, then don't get it. Going through hell just for a status symbol is not worth it."

It was a terrible mistake, a decision that I regretted almost immediately. It wasn't just the $600 monthly instalments, but the petrol, parking, insurance and other hidden costs.

- 'Adam'

One tree blocks six-lane road

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