Don't Worry, Be Happy actor had great comedic timing

The man who played the bubbly petrol kiosk employee Ali in the classic local sitcom Don't Worry, Be Happy (1996 to 2001) has died. Mr Khaironi Salleh, also known as Roni to his friends, died on Sunday at the age of 58. He was a senior cameraman at Mediacorp at the time of his death.

Channel 8 news anchor Evelyn Lam posted about his passing on Sunday, saying she had lost a "comrade". "He taught me: 'Don't worry, be happy.' His life was as such, wherever he went, there was laughter. Rest in peace, Roni," she wrote.

Mr Khaironi's son - Mr Danial Ron, 31, a gaming content creator - told The Straits Times that his father had an intracerebral haemorrhage on Feb 21 and had been warded at Tan Tock Seng Hospital until his death. Intracerebral haemorrhage involves bleeding in the brain.

Mr Danial added: "He's the type of guy who would work himself to the bone and always find the silver lining to everything. He always managed to make people around him laugh and had a positive aura."

Veteran actor Chew Chor Meng, the leading man of Don't Worry, Be Happy, says his co-star was "very positive, very cute, very enjoyable to work with".

In a phone call with ST, the 53-year-old said he first met Mr Khaironi in the early 1990s, when he was a rookie actor.

"Roni was a camera assistant at the time I entered the industry. But he was so funny and interesting and had such great comedic timing that he came to act," he recalled.

"When he was on set, it was always very fun. He could speak a bit of Mandarin and he'd call me Ah-bee (the name of Chew's character) and ask if I had eaten."

This is the second death in two months of a Don't Worry, Be Happy cast member. Former actor Mak Ho Wai, who played Old Hero in the series, died in April at the age of 76.

Mediacorp said it is "greatly saddened" by the loss.

In a statement, the broadcaster said: "Roni had worked in Mediacorp for 37 years and was much loved by all who knew and worked with him. He had worked across different editorial teams, including more than a decade at the CNA Bureau in Indonesia, and acted in the sitcom Don't Worry, Be Happy.

"This is a devastating loss for Roni's family, friends and his colleagues at the Mediacorp family. We offer our deepest condolences and will do all we can to support all our staff who are grieving."

Mr Khaironi leaves behind his wife, a 58-year-old retired teacher, and three children - Mr Danial, a daughter, 28, and another son, 23.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 23, 2022, with the headline Don't Worry, Be Happy actor had great comedic timing. Subscribe