Tributes pour in from both sides of causeway for ‘Under One Roof’ star Zaibo, who succumbed to cancer

Zaibo in the center, surrounded by his ‘Under One Roof’ co-stars. Photo: @sfqomhz / Twitter
Zaibo in the center, surrounded by his ‘Under One Roof’ co-stars. Photo: @sfqomhz / Twitter

Marvel Comics figurehead Stan Lee may have crossed through the Bifrost bridge and on to Valhalla on Monday, but today marks the passing of another pop culture icon that hits much closer to home.

Malaysian actor and comedian Zainal Ariffin Abdul Hamid, or more popularly known as Zaibo, lost the battle to cancer this afternoon. He passed away in his Johor home at the age of 62, surrounded by his wife and two sisters.

Back in September, news emerged that Zaibo was diagnosed with stage four oesophageal cancer, which had spread to his stomach, lungs and rib cage. Speaking to The Star, he mentioned that he had no income for medical expenses as he stopped acting in 2016.

His wife, Siti Hawa Sawal, confirmed the news to the media, noting that he suddenly struggled to breathe earlier this afternoon and his heart stopped beating by the time the ambulance arrived. His funeral and burial will be held today.

Singaporeans may know and love him best from his role as emasculated mee rebus seller Yusuf on local sitcom Under One Roof, but the veteran entertainer’s career surpasses the ‘90s TV series. He played Pak Selamat in Malaysian sitcom Spanar Jaya and multiple films, including a small role in Hollywood period drama Anna and the King.

He had fans from all walks of life. While he was based in Kuala Lumpur in the ‘90s, cabbies would offer him free rides to Singapore for his Under One Roof shoots. Johor princess Tunku Tun Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah binti Sultan Ibrahim, an Under One Roof fan herself, paid the man a visit on Monday to offer her best wishes.

Tributes have been pouring in from both sides of the Causeway, including his former Under One Roof co-stars Vernetta Lopez and Nicholas Lee, who said to The Straits Times that Zaibo’s gift “was to bring joy and laughter to all those around him and he will be missed so very, very much”.

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