Friday, April 8, 2016

The Mysterious Padang Tembak (神秘的打枪埔)

‘Padang Tembak’ is located in central Penang near Air Itam. It is an area of HDB flats which was built after WWII. There are a total of 9 HDB flats, each flat is 17 stories high and each floor consists of 24 units. So there is a total of 408 units in a flat. As the name ‘Padang Tembak’ implies, this was the killing field of Japan Imperial Army; and these flats are built just beside a graveyard. Having said so, this is an area of high density too.

Though a small area, Padang Tembak has many ghost stories to share. For example: the old man in ancient costume, bride in the lift, sounds of Indian chanting and ringing from a homicide unit, the haunted lake on the Datuk’s Lake (many people were found drowned there), The hung ghost of Chen Meilian at foothill etc.

I will start telling those ghost stories as I jog my mind. So in no particular orders:

A contractor friend of mine said, he once returned from work late at night and he was waiting for lift at the basement. When the lift finally arrived and the door opened, suddenly he saw a long hair lady in white suddenly rushed into the lift. He has never seen this lady before, further he couldn’t see the lady’s face as it was covered by her hair. My pal dared not step in because he was wondering… was she a human or was she something else?

Another story of lift goes like this: a person returned home at midnight, when the lift door opened, a bride looking lady sitting in a wheel chair… the person was so scared that he rather used the staircase instead. Was she a mad woman or was she something else?

Yet another story said that someone seen an old in ancient costume crying at night beside lift at lower basement.

An old lady who has been living in Padang Tembak said when the HDB was built, there were many strange happenings. For example: bus conductors from Lim Seng Sheng Company mainly would receive many hell notes (阴司钱) and toilets were often found lock from outside etc. It was also said that during the construction of HDB flats, the workers dug out many human remains believed to be victims of Imperial Army.

Another friend of mine who is a resident of HDB said that she had an awful experience with the lift too. About 20 years ago, she visited a friend who was staying just two blocks away at night. After my friend went into the lift, the lift suddenly halted and power supply was cut off. It was pitch dark in the lift compartment. My friend was certainly afraid, so she kept pressing emergency bell and banged on the door. Suddenly my friend heard a clear voice said: “Don’t worry, I am already here for 10 years!”

My friend almost fainted as she was alone in the lift. Luckily, the lift resumed operation a few minutes later. She said that her feet were so shaky that she had to craw to her friend’s place!

In the 70’s, Malaysia was experiencing recession, the new HDB flats were the only high rise buildings around. So they naturally became the infamous spots for ‘suicide by jumping’ (跳楼).

According to Mr. Gong, suicide jumping cases were very frequent then, in addition to the locality of the HDB flats near graveyard and the effects of rumors; in residents in the 70’s fear ghosts more than the robbers.

Those suicide cases begun to reduce in the 80’s and such cases are rare now due to the availability of taller buildings in Penang.

Ms Lee said that she heard the possibility of meeting ghosts is high in first and second blocks because there are people ‘keeping small ghosts’ (养小鬼) and in some units, plates and objects move by themselves. Such incidents too had scared away many tenants.

Even though Padang Tembak is reputed to be haunted, most residents had already gone custom as ghost stories remain as ghost stories; no one really gets hurt by those ghosts. So some of the residents even drink tea and exercise at the cemetery nearby.

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