Anyone who grew up in Singapore in the ‘90s would have fond memories of the country’s first locally produced English-language sitcom Under One Roof, a wholesome, cherished series featuring an HDB-dwelling Chinese family and their multi-racial neighbors.
A fun fact we just found out about one of the cast: Zainal Ariffin Abdul Hamid (better known as Zaibo) was based in Kuala Lumpur, and would take cabs to film his parts in Singapore. Sometimes, he would even be offered free rides from cabbies who were fans of the show.
Beloved for his funny role as emasculated mee rebus seller Yusuf, fans of Under One Roof were shocked to find out that the 62-year-old Malaysian veteran actor was afflicted with oesophageal cancer, which spread to his stomach, lungs and left rib cage. He remains warded in a hospital in Batu Pahat.
It appears to be that he had fans from all walks of life. Johor princess Tunku Tun Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah binti Sultan Ibrahim paid the man a visit yesterday to give her best wishes. Accompanied by her husband Dennis Muhammad Abdullah — the former marketing manager of local football club Tampines Rovers — as well as representatives from the Tunku Laksamana Johor Cancer Foundation, the princess wanted to personally drop by to offer her support in his battle against his disease.
“I used to watch Under One Roof growing up,” admitted the princess. “I told my husband how funny you were and showed him videos of you.”
According to The Royal Johor’s Facebook post, it felt personal for the princess too as her late brother was a cancer victim who died in 2015.
“The royal visit brought cheer to the actor, as she shared words of comfort and cracked jokes with him,” noted The Royal Johor.
News of Zaibo’s diagnosis also brought shock to his former Under One Roof co-stars back in September, The Straits Times reported. Gold 905 DJ Vernetta Lopez, who played Denise in the show, remembered that he had “always been sweetheart” during their filming days, who would buy gifts for everyone when he returned to Singapore from Malaysia. Australia-based Norleena Salim, who played his TV wife, also conveyed her well wishes to him over the phone.
The former cast of the show has since raised money to help Zaibo with his medical fees.