'MRT abang' now a Manhunt hopeful
Manhunt Singapore and Senior Manhunt are back. So who will walk away with the coveted titles? The New Paper meets four contestants who think they have what it takes
MUHAMMAD HANAFIE, 26
Part-time parking attendant
From starring in viral video to acting on Suria
It was an MRT ride that thrust Hanafie into the spotlight.
In July, he was on the North-South line, between Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio stations, when he saw a middle-aged commuter verbally abusing a teenager whose T-shirt he had taken issue with.
The Caucasian commuter was much bigger than the teen, so Hanafie stepped in to defuse the situation.
The incident was filmed and posted to social media where thousands saw it.
Many praised Hanafie for confronting a bully verbally abusing a teenager on the train.
Originally known to the public as Elfy, he soon gained a different name: Abang (Malay for brother) MRT.
One comment described him as "Singapore's superhero".
Even Law Minister K. Shanmugam said the young man's actions swelled him with pride.
He said of the video: "I have always believed that we should stand up for people who are being bullied or mistreated because otherwise, a lot of people will get away with misconduct and they will think it is okay to misbehave."
Despite his noble actions, life threw some bumps for Hanafie to overcome.
He told The New Paper: "Shortly after the video went viral and people started calling me a hero, it made me feel good.
"But something bad also happened. I lost my job."
Hanafie was working as a bellboy at a hotel.
"That was very difficult for me because I was supporting my entire family," he added.
Hanafie, who is supporting his father, stepmother and brother, said the loss of income was a blow.
But fate has a way of working out.
The Manhunt organisers had also seen the video.
They felt he had the right looks and attitude for this year's pageant, so they tracked him down on Facebook to offer him a spot among the 30 hopefuls.
But the true icing on the cake only came this week.
Hanafie's life-long ambition of becoming an actor became reality when he was cast in an upcoming drama on Suria.
Not much is known about the yet-to-be-named drama - only that it will be broadcast early next year.
This means he can look forward to providing for his family again.
Hanafie said: "I feel like everything happened so fast.
"One moment, I lost my job and the next, I've been cast in a drama. It is a dream come true."As for the incident that made him famous, Hanafie has some unfinished business.
"I thought when the videos of me went viral, the young man whom I stood up for would contact me but he didn't," he said.
"My only wish now is to meet him to find out how he is doing.
"I hope I made a positive impact on his life."
Dad 'orders' son to join contest with him
FINALISTS: (back, from left) jack poon and ngen ge liang. (Front, from left) Muhammad Hanafie, Ryan Poon and
Muhammad Fuad. - TNP PHOTO: Gavin Foo
RYAN POON, 24
JACK POON, 49
The father and son do many things together, so it was only natural that when Jack was approached by Manhunt organisers via Facebook, he signed his son up for the pageant too.
The organisers chose Jack because they felt he had a great body for a 49-year-old.
He said: "I am very happy that my son agreed to join me. My wife has been very supportive of both of us as well."
Ryan, who works at his father's air-conditioning business, said: "Earlier this year, my dad sent me a message, ordering me to go home immediately. I was very startled because he never commands me to do anything.
"When I got home, he told me to join Manhunt with him."
Ryan admitted that he was reluctant to join because he had no confidence in his physique.
He had been going to the gym for only 10 months while his father has been working out for 18 years.
He said: "My father's body is so much better than mine. I have to try my best to be in tip-top condition for the finals in December."
But the former hairdresser has enjoyed the Manhunt experience and feels that the pageant has brought him and his dad even closer together.
"He's a great listener, so I always have him to confide in," said Ryan.
"I always talk to him, even about my clubbing life and the girls I like."
There is one woman who could not be any prouder right now.
Mrs Poon is ecstatic that her husband and son are both Manhunt finalists.
Ryan said: "We keep joking with her that she should feel honoured to have both of us flank her when we go out.
"She keeps sharing our Manhunt photos on her Facebook page. She loves them."
Topless crowd-pleaser was bedridden for months
MUHAMMAD FUAD, 25
His bosses liked his looks and physique so much, they created a special position just for him and they pay him $100 an hour.
Since July, the graphic designer with local club Attica has taken on extra duties: Every Saturday, he warms up the crowd at the club for up to two hours by keeping the women happy - by being topless.
Fuad told The New Paper: "My girlfriend is okay with it because she knows the extra cash helps me support my family.
"Every Tuesday, there's a meeting at work to discuss what I shall dress up as on Saturday.
"I've been a wrestler, a fireman, a ninja, a police officer, an F1 racer and a member of the Special Weapons And Tactics (Swat) team."
Fuad claimed that his topless gyrating has had a positive effect.
"There have been more ladies coming to the club on Saturdays since I started my new gig," he said.
Behind Fuad's confident demeanour lies a painful past.
Last year, when he was still in the army, he suffered a sports injury that rendered him unable to walk for some time. He had a torn meniscus and a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament on his left knee following a tug-of-war event.
Fuad said: "That was one of the darkest points of my life.
"I was lying in bed for a few months, feeling so disappointed in myself that I couldn't get up and do anything for anyone.
"Eventually, I told myself that I couldn't give up and I did everything I could to get better."
Surgery, followed by many months of rehabilitation, enabled him to slowly get back on his feet.
Joining Manhunt is not just another chance to show off his body. Fuad hopes his story will inspire others.
"I want people to know that it doesn't matter how many times you fall," he said.
"What's more important is that you keep getting up."