More than just a coffee boy
5. Tuen Wai Meng, 56, chauffeur
Tuen Wai Meng made his acting debut as coffee boy Ah Cai in Neighbours (left). Image: Mediacorp, Mike Lee for The Sunday Times
Best known for: Playing coffee shop assistant Ah Cai in the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation’s Channel 8 series Neighbours (1986 to 1988)
Television’s favourite kopiboy Tuen Wai Meng’s colourful life could easily rival the plot of a Taiwanese soap opera.
In the iconic TV series Neighbours, he made his acting debut playing an earnest coffee boy called Ah Cai, who was voted the drama’s most popular character in an audience poll then.
Before he was an actor, he was a plumber. After he retired from acting, he took on all sorts of odd jobs, including being a lorry driver, a delivery man and a getai host.
In the meantime, he also divorced the same woman twice. They have a daughter, 28, and a son, eight.
Being an actor is his most relaxing job, says Tuen in Mandarin, as well as his most high-profile one.
His show business career peaked in the late 1980s, with him starring in dramas such as Pickpockets (1987) and On the Fringe (1988).
He left the station in 1990, he says, for a host of reasons. Singapore Broadcasting Corporation reportedly did not renew his artist contract because he flouted the law when he opened a karaoke lounge without an entertainment licence.
To eke out a living over the past three decades, he took on all sorts of odd jobs.
He occasionally returns to his acting roots. He was last seen as an unrepentant prisoner in Channel 8 drama Tiger Mum (2015).