SINGAPORE - 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 on Wednesday, 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, when a man started to lash out at another man in the train carriage.
The two men had boarded the train at the Bishan station.
In a video recording of the incident filmed by Ms Nasser, a commuter could be seen scolding and threatening a younger man who was wearing an expletive-bearing 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. In the video, he could be heard saying: "Are you getting off? If not, I'm going to throw you off."
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 early 20s, was smaller than his aggressor. The young man 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 victim and aggressor are not known.
Mr Hanafie was speaking to reporters at an iftar session at the community club with young professionals and students.
Grassroots leader Amrin Amin had invited Mr Hanafie and Ms Nabilah to the event to get them to share their thoughts on the incident. Mr Amrin said: "I thought Elfy did a nice thing. It's an admirable gesture to stand up for someone who's being harrassed or bullied."
Law Minister K Shanmugamm, who was present at the meeting, told reporters: "We need to come out and affirm some types of conduct, and say that some things are not acceptable.
"The bullying was unacceptable, and what Elfy did made me feel proud - standing up to a bully."
Mr Shanmugam added that Mr Hanafie's actions "touches a little bit of most of us".
Since the video went viral, Mr Hanafie and Ms Nabilah have been inundated with messages and friend requests on Facebook.
Mr Hanafie has also gained the nickname of MRT abang, which means MRT brother in Malay, on several online forums.
"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.
This article was first published on July 15, 2015.
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