In the past, legends and old wives’ tales about Malay ghosts like Orang Minyak are told just to scare children into behaving themselves properly but as times change, they have lost their allure or scare factor. But there are some that will still remain scary regardless of age or time. Urban legends.
Not only do they tap into fears related to the modern living, there is always an element of believability in the stories. It could involve a real location or person, it could be tied to an existing superstition or belief, or it could simply be a believable scenario. Today, we will look at 3 creepy urban legends from Malaysia, which probably have some of the scariest urban legends in today’s world.
Malaysian Ghost Stories
1) Orang Minyak
Orang Minyak (or Oily Man) was a supernatural being called into being and controlled by evil bomoh or witch doctors and his main duty is to cause all kinds of trouble. The Orang Minyak can cover his whole body in a black oily substance that makes him practically invisible at night, difficult to catch, and makes breaking and entering extremely easy.
The orang minyak can also crawl up walls and the sides of tall building, as well as jump long distances on rooftops, making him look like the Malaysian version of Venom. The Orang Minyak loves to molest teenage virgin girls and steal expensive items, but he does not like to kill.
But imagine waking up at night and seeing some oliy person all over you. Who would not be traumatised? The Orang Minyak terror led to unmarried women, especially in student dormitories, resorting to constantly wearing sweaty clothes to give the creature the impression that they had just got it on with a man.
To make things scarier, the Orang Minyak still continue to terrorise people till today. In 2005, there was a report of a knife-wielding Orang Minyak roaming around Kuala Lumpur Hospital, attempting to rape the nurses. And in 2012, the residents of a village in Gombak, Selangor claim to have seen and heard the Orang Minyak skulking around the area.
2) Hantu Penanggalan
Known as the infamous Balan-balan to Sabanhans and probably the most famous ghost in Sabah, the Hantu Penanggalan pretty much preys on everyone, but has a preference for pregnant women and newborn babies. Like a banshee who appears at a birth rather than a death, the Penanggalan perches on the roofs of houses where women are in labour, screeching when the child is born.
The Penanggalan will insert a long invisible tongue into the house to lap up the blood of the new mother. Those whose blood the Penanggalan feeds upon contract a disease that is almost fatal. There are a few versions about the Hantu Penanggalan origins but one version states that The Penanggalan is usually a female midwife who has made a pact with the devil to gain supernatural powers.
It is said that the midwife has broken a stipulation in the pact not to eat meat for 40 days. As a result, she has been forever cursed to become a bloodsucking vampire/demon. The midwife keeps a vat of vinegar in her house. After detaching her head and flying around in the night looking for blood the Penanggalan will come home and immerse her entrails in the vat of vinegar in order to shrink them for easy entry back into her body.
One common way to protect against the Hantu Pananggalan is to either scatter the thorny leaves of the Mengkuang plant or loop them around the windows of a home where a pregnant woman has given birth as the thorns would snare and hurt the exposed organs. Another way is to find out where she lives and at night, after her head flies off, immediately destroy the body by pouring broken glass into it or burning it.
3) Janet’s Ghost
There are many different versions to Janet’s Ghost, but all of them involve a female apparition who haunts Kuching. Here is one version. Janet is supposed to be a young Chinese nurse in Kuching’s public hospital.
At that time, kidnappings were rampant in Kuching and the disappearances were believed to be linked to the construction of the Satok Bridge. The people there believed that if the construction was held up for any reason, it meant that the territorial spirits were displeased and human sacrifices must be made to appease them and only heads will be used.
This was believed to be the fate that befell young Janet, whom was reported to be disappeared in the 60’s. Eventually, her headless body was found and her anguished parents buried her in a red dress and red shoes. The Chinese believe that if a woman died wearing red, she would return as a vengeful spirit.
Perhaps her parents intended for Janet to return and exact justice on her killers. Well, return she did and soon, terrified villagers living at the outskirts of Kuching city reported seeing a mysterious woman dressed in red, trying to attract the attention of the menfolk.
Janet would also hitch a ride with motorcyclists, but at the end of the ride she would disappear, leaving behind a stain left on the seat and there would be a smell of rotting flesh. There are also tales of Janet hitching a ferry ride but after payment, she disappears and the money will turn to leaves or hell notes.
Till today, no ferry operator will be willing to work after 10pm. Janet’s Ghost is so feared that residents of Kuching to refuse to even mention her name for fear of getting a visit from her at night.