On 15 September (Sunday), Mohammad Nafiz Kamarudin, founder of non-profit organisation Happy People Helping People Foundation, took to his Facebook to reveal that Yellow Ribbon Project Singapore disallowed him from running in the Prison Run 2019 when he appeared at the event in an anti-death penalty t-shirt.
“So they did not allow me to run, despite being clear on their site that runners can use any other tops other than their official t-shirt. First they told me I need to change my bib. Now they want to police me on what to wear,” he wrote.
He added, “Screw Yellow Ribbon Project. This will not stop me from achieving my goal on my birthday. I will be running parallel to them. Screw the medal.”
It all started last month when Mr Nafiz collected his bib, and instead of printing his name on it, he had a more meaningful message written on the bib which stated, “2nd Chances” means not killing them”.
However, after initially approving the message, the organisation got in touch with him again after two weeks and stated that his message on the bib “is not in line with the cause”. As such, they requested him to change his bib.
Mr Nafiz told TOC that after rejecting the request from different staff from the organisation to change his bib, he finally agreed to do it as he planned to wear a t-shirt with the same message on the day.
“Since I already have the t-shirt printed, I thought exchanging the bib with just my name is not a big deal as the fonts are quite small,” he said.
As such, he agreed to meet the staff personally to exchange his bib. During the meet-up, he was greeted by a man named Mr Ong, a prison officer, as well as another man and woman.
Mr Nafiz said to TOC that after he exchanged the bib, he also double-checked with Mr Ong before leaving the meet-up if he can appear in the race with any t-shirt of his choice.
As a reply, Mr Ong said that he can come to the event in any t-shirt that he likes but noted that “the reason why they gave an official t-shirt to all participants is because they want everyone to be in yellow”.
However, at the Sunday’s run, Mr Nafiz pointed out that the staff told him that he can’t take part in the race with the t-shirt, and repeated that the message on the t-shirt is not in line with their cause.
As such, Mr Nafiz informed them that he will not be taking part in the event, instead will be running parallel with other runners.
“I ran with them, along Loyang Avenue, until the road was barricaded for the run. So I had no choice but to join the race,” he told TOC.
He continued, “My intention was to not blend in and hope that they think I finished the race with them. The reason was because I couldn’t run on the other side, and ran together with them but without my bib.”
Sadly, he noted that at the 8KM checkpoint, a staff from the organisation spotted him and he was asked to leave the race. Therefore, he left and just stood at the side of the road, wearing the same t-shirt.
TOC has reached out to Yellow Ribbon Project Singapore for their comments on this matter last week and is yet to receive a reply from them.
Mr Nafiz also told TOC that he received a call from Bedok police station on Monday (16 September) asking him to make his way to the station for an interview regarding Sunday’s incident.
TOC will be following up with Mr Nafiz regarding this story after his police interview today.