The hashtag #AlwaysInOurHeartsZaynMalik held the top spot both globally and locally on Twitter yesterday, thanks to the collective heartbreak and hysteria of millions of Zayn Malik fans.
Early yesterday morning, popular UK band One Direction released a statement about his shocking departure from the group just hours after their concert in Jakarta.
This bombshell came after already unexpected news last week, when he quit their On The Road Again tour due to stress.
Malik, 22, had performed gigs in Australia, Japan, Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong before returning home to the UK.
Remaining One Direction members Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan - all in their 20s - continued with the Asian leg of the tour in Manila and Jakarta as a quartet, and will do the same for their Europe and North America dates.
In a statement, Malik apologised but said that "it is the right time... to leave" and that he "(wants) to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight".
News of his departure was met with a massive outpouring of emotions on social media from Directioners.
Many expressed sadness and grief, while others appeared to be in disbelief and denial.
Some fans also took to video-sharing platform Vine to post videos of their overwhelming misery.
While some were seen sobbing and screaming in anguish, others begged Malik to change his mind.
Malik has continued to remain silent on social media, but speculation was rife that he wanted the timeout to work on his relationship.
Rumours that he was cheating on his fiancee Perrie Edwards, a member of English girl group Little Mix, began emerging after incriminating photos made their rounds on social media.
They showed him cosying up to a blonde English fan named Lauren Richardson at a club in Phuket during their Thailand stopover.
Music mogul Simon Cowell, who signed One Direction to his label Syco Music after they were formed on his reality TV singing competition The X Factor in 2010, said he has "grown very, very fond - and immensely proud" of Malik and that he was "truly sorry to see him leave".
One Direction apparently have a year left on their three-year contract, which they renewed in 2013. A source told UK newspaper The Sun then that if a member decides to leave before the end of the contract, each member will receive less than the agreed amount.
In a statement, the boys expressed sadness in watching Malik go and said that they will always remain friends.
Individually, they let on little, except Payne, who had tweeted "so glad to be in bed after a long and strange 24 hours".
Styles also tweeted "all (his) love as always", while Tomlinson said on Twitter that they would work hard to deliver "the best album" ever made for their fans.
Local Malik fans The New Paper spoke to were emotional and distraught.
Student Angelica Chong, 19, said she cried on and off the whole night and only managed to sleep at 6am yesterday.
"It came as a surprise initially but his departure was not completely unforeseeable. Zayn has always had the toughest time dealing with fame and the media so I'm glad he has decided to put his health and happiness first. He has my support 100 per cent," she said.
She said she finds it hard to listen to One Direction's songs now as the group is not the same without her favourite member.
"I'm thankful that he came to Singapore (for their March 11 concert)... it feels more significant now that he has left. I feel awful for Zayn's fans who bought tickets for the current tour," she said.
"There is a massive gaping hole where Zayn used to be. Musically, he has the loveliest voice," she said.
Republic Polytechnic student Muhammad Hidayat Rafii, 17, heard the news after he woke up and was on the verge of tears on his way to school, he said.
"I am still in disbelief. His departure must have hit Harry, who cried at the show in Jakarta," he said.
Despite Malik's exit, the poly student said he will remain an ardent fan.
"I will support One Direction until I die. Besides, boy bands always end up regrouping - look at Backstreet Boys," he said.
This article was first published on March 27, 2015.
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