Tuesday, April 19, 2016

News Reaction: Mass Hysteria at Malaysian School (Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan)

The News:

Since Monday (April 11, 2016), about 100 students and staff of the school, SMK Pengkalan Chepa 2, Kelantan, reported seeing apparitions described as black spectres, pontianak, and pochong. Officially, this was described as "mass hysteria". However, the school has enlisted the help of more than 8 ustaz (Islamic Scholars), bomoh (traditional Malay Shaman), and Islamic traditional experts to "help chase away the spirits".

On Wed (April 13) the school was closed to allow the ustaz and bomoh to perform prayers or rituals to cleanse the school of spirits.

On Sunday (April 17) the school was re-opened, though the media was not granted access. However, from outside the school gates, journalists reported hearing screams and shouts from within the schools. So the prayers and rituals did not seem to have worked.

The Question:

So which is it? Mass Hysteria, or haunting? The media (at least the English media) seems to prefer "mass hysteria", but the ground response seems to give credence to malevolent spirit intrusion. Even then, the response of ustaz and bomoh seems to be an "everything and the kitchen sink" approach. A Islamic-based response should be using ustaz. A customary approach would mean going with bomoh (traditional shamans). Using both shows a lack of faith in either. If you believe it is a spiritual manifestation, then do you trust your religious scholars to expel the spirits or do you put your faith in traditional shamanistic rituals. Because a bomoh is not a religious leader, and has no standing in the Islamic community. Using both is akin using a Catholic Exorcist, and a Taoist Medium at the same time. It is rather open-minded and inclusive of you, but it speaks volumes about your faith. Or rather the lack thereof.

The Other Question from FaceBook comments was,

So why don't Singapore have such Mass Hysteria incident as well?

And because FaceBook has lots of would-be stand-up comics, here are the ten best answers

#10 Men in White are scarier than any pontianak.

#9 The spirits are coming. They are stuck at the causeway trying to clear custom and immigration.

#8 Singapore too expensive, the spirits can't afford to come. Need almost 3 ringgit to get 1 SGD.

#7 Food is better in Malaysia. And cheaper. And in ringgit. SG hawkers dying out, closing shop.

#6 Three letters: E.R.P.

#5 Who says we don't have? We have! Every weekend at Central Christian Church, City Harvest Church, and New Creation Church thousands of people get hysterical.

#4 Because they are an ungodly nation/state (Kelantan) who do not keep holy the Sabbath!

#3 Three other letters: L.K.Y. (or his spirit)

#2 Those spirits? From MH370. They have nothing to do with Singapore. So no hauntings in Singapore.

#1 "Those Malaysian students, dem lucky. Got time to have mass hysteria. Singapore students don't even have time to sleep because of the homework, the "enrichment classes", the tuition, the CCA, etc.  They lucky to be able to dream, dun say see ghosts."

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