Planned daughter’s birthday bash turns into funeral for driver of ill-fated express bus

GEORGE TOWN, Dec 25 — A birthday bash for a daughter planned for year-end by driver Zakeer Zubir turned into the funeral for him and another daughter after they were killed in an express bus accident in Johor yesterday, along with 12 other people.

This was disclosed by Zakeer’s mother Rashidah Abdul Rahim, 60, at the burial of her son Zakeer, 32, and his younger daughter Nur Natasha Zahara, one, at the Hashim Yahaya Muslim Cemetery here at about 6.30am today, attended by about 50 relatives and friends.

Zakeer, 32, was the driver of the ill-fated bus that plunged into a six-metre-deep ravine at the north-bound stretch of the North-South Expressway near Pagoh at about 3.30am yesterday.

Nur Natasha Zahara also died in the accident that claimed the lives of 14 people in all and injured 16 others.

Zakeer’s wife Miyarseh, an Indonesian, who was also travelling in the bus, was severely injured. The couple have another daughter, Nur Cahaya Zulaikha, four.

Rashidah, who was distraught and almost fainted at the cemetery, said Zakeer had planned a big ‘doa selamat’ feast for Cahaya Zulaikha’s birthday at the end of the year and had wanted to “invite everyone for it”.

“My son. You have gone too soon. I will miss you,” she said, tears welling in her eyes.

Rashidah said Zakeer was the second of three siblings.

“I last saw him three days ago and he said he will come back. He asked me to take care of his children and told me he wanted to quit the job as it was very tiring.

“I can’t believe that that was the last time I would see him,” she sobbed. — Bernama.