Hero of MRT incident

Shanmugam lauds man who stood up to bully

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam with Mr Muhammad Hanafie Ali Mahmood, who stood up to the MRT bully. Mr Hanafie's girlfriend, Ms Nabilah Nasser (seated), filmed the incident.
Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam with Mr Muhammad Hanafie Ali Mahmood, who stood up to the MRT bully. Mr Hanafie's girlfriend, Ms Nabilah Nasser (seated), filmed the incident. ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Mr Muhammad Hanafie Ali Mahmood, 25, had only one thing on his mind when he went up to stop a commuter from bullying another man in the MRT - to prevent a fight from erupting.

"I was worried that the bully would lay hands on the man," Mr Hanafie said.

Recounting the incident to reporters at Chong Pang Community Club yesterday, Mr Hanafie, who is unemployed, said he was riding the North-South Line train from Orchard at about 11pm last Tuesday with his girlfriend, Ms Nabilah Nasser, 23. Two men got on the train at Bishan, and out of the blue, the older man started to lash out at the younger man.

In a video of the incident filmed by Ms Nabilah and put up on social media, a commuter could be seen scolding and threatening a younger man who was wearing a T-shirt that said "I'm F--king Special".

When the train reached Ang Mo Kio station, the aggressor threatened to throw the victim out of the train. He said in the video: "Are you getting off? If not, I'm going to throw you off."

BRAVE ACT

The bullying was unacceptable,and what Elfy did made me feel proud - standing upto a bully.

MR K.SHANMUGAM, Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs

It was at this point that Mr Hanafie, who also goes by the nickname Elfy, decided to intervene.

"It just doesn't make sense. The man kept scolding the victim about his T-shirt," he said, adding that the victim had kept quiet and avoided eye contact with the aggressor to not provoke him.

The victim, who looked like he was in his 20s, was smaller in size than the aggressor. He was also wearing his backpack in front and the words on his shirt could not be clearly seen, added Mr Hanafie.

The identities of the aggressor and the victim are not known.

Mr Hanafie was speaking at an iftar session at the community club yesterday with young professionals and students. Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who was at the session, said: "The bullying was unacceptable, and what Elfy did made me feel proud - standing up to a bully."

Since the video went viral, Mr Hanafie and Ms Nabilah have been inundated with Facebook messages and friend requests. "I feel that people are proud of me... But life goes on still. I just want to say that we should help each other," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2015, with the headline 'Shanmugam lauds man who stood up to bully'. Print Edition | Subscribe