People first, heroes next
NTUC Income's advertisement features mostly real life people re-enacting the incidents that made them heroes. The New Paper speaks to them about their experience
Mr Mohamad Rafiq Azhar, 21, was hailed a hero when he cleared the way for an ambulance in March and a video clip of it went viral.
The Republic Polytechnic student, who was riding his motorcycle along the Pan Island Expressway (PIE) at the time, is one of five people featured in NTUC Income's latest advertisement, People First.
A taxi driver, a bus driver and two construction workers have also been highlighted in the advertisement to celebrate their selfless acts.
Since Oct 23, Income has been running People First, showcasing heroic acts which have been featured on social media or reported by local media.
They include last year's incidents where passers-by rescued a man trapped under a lorry after an accident at Bendemeer Road junction on July 22, and two construction workers saved a toddler whose head got stuck between the railings of an external clothes drying rack at her Jurong East home on April 23.
RESCUE: Construction workers saving a toddler whose head was stuck between the railings of an external clothes drying rack on April 23. TNP PHOTO: JEREMY LONG
The advertisement has garnered over 141,370 views on YouTube since it was uploaded on Oct 23 and is also shown on television, various online platforms and movie theatres.
In March, Mr Rafiq was riding his motorcycle on the PIE when he noticed that cars were not giving way to an ambulance even though its siren was on. He decided to clear the path ahead by using hand signals – and it worked.
He told The New Paper : "I cleared the road for the ambulance until we reached the highway and then I thought I might as well clear the road for them all the way to the hospital."
Mr Rafiq said he was approached by a production company on Aug 5 and asked if he wanted to be a part of the advertisement.
HEROES: (From left to right) Mr Mohamad Rafiq Azhar, Mr Jiang Hong and Mr Ong Kong Poh. TNP PHOTO: JEREMY LONG
He said: "I did not think that the advertisement was going to be aired on TV, so I felt very happy when I saw it on TV.
"My mum was the first to watch it and I said, 'Mum, that's your son' and she was very proud of me. She told me to keep it up and to 'do good and good things will come to you'."
Mr Rafiq said that the woman, who was in the ambulance with her mother, was very grateful for his actions and called him a hero. They have kept in contact through Facebook.
Other heroes in the commercial are SBS Transit bus captain, Mr Jiang Hong, 39, and ComforDelGro taxi driver, Mr Ong Kong Poh, 48, who both helped to put out a car fire.
Mr Jiang, who was operating bus service 153 along Farrer Road, spotted thick smoke coming out of the bonnet of a stationary car on June 6.
He took the fire extinguisher that was on the double decker bus and got permission from his passengers before helping the car driver to put out the fire.
Mr Ong stopped his taxi and passed the fire extinguisher from his cab to the car driver, who used it to put out the fire.
Mr Ong was also on standby with big bottles of water in case more assistance was required.
Mr Jiang said: "I am happy to be in the advertisement and to be able to inspire those in need and encourage others to be more selfless.
"During the incident, I did not think of myself and just rushed forward. It was only while filming the advertisement that I realised how dangerous the situation really was.
"But there was no time to think, and I just felt that if nobody went down to help, somebody could get hurt," he said.
Mr Ong and Mr Jiang were presented with the Singapore Civil Defence Force's Public Spiritedness Award for their quick thinking and selflessness on June 10.
The rest of the cast in the commercial are actors.
RESCUE: Professional stuntmen re-enacting the rescue of a toddler whose head was stuck between the railings of an external clothes drying rack. PHOTO: NTUC INCOME
Mr Subramanian Shanmuganathan and Mr Ponnan Muthukumar, the construction workers who saved the toddler's life, were not asked to re-enact the scene due to safety concerns.
Professional stuntmen were used instead.
Mr Marcus Chew, chief marketing officer of Income, said these heroic acts reflect the spirit of putting the interest of others above themselves.
TRAPPED: Screengrab from the People First advertisement showing passers-by rescuing a man trapped under a lorry by lifting it off him. PHOTO: NTUC INCOME
He said: "These people proactively came forward when the need arose.
"Such a spirit of putting people first is consistent with the way Income conducts our business. It is who we are and it is what makes us different."
TRAPPED: The actual incident on July 22.