Malaysian school hit with mass hysteria starts day with special prayers

PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

KOTA BARU, Malaysia - Almost all the students in Form 1 to Form five of SMK Pengkalan Chepa 2 have had to miss the first class period over the past month to dedicate the time to special prayers after daily outbreaks of mass hysteria.

They skip the first class session each day to take part in prayers to rid the school of "bad spirits", which are said to be behind the hysteria spells that have affected more that 150 students since April 12.

Some students reportedly saw "pontianak (vampire)" or "pocong (shrouded ghost)" before they experienced body possession episodes.

Many ustaz, Islamic traditional healing experts to bomoh and "ghostbusters" from Perak have been brought in to carry out cleansing rituals, but to no avail.

Police officers have also been sent to the school to counsel the students.

Still, there are at least three cases of hysteria outbreaks a day.

A Form Three student, who declined to be named, said there have been cases of female students being possessed by bad spirits almost every day since April 12.

"It's like a routine for the students to gather at the school foyer to conduct special prayers.

"Then, the girls become possessed right after the 10am break," he said.

He said it happens so often that he is getting used to hearing screams and shouts in school.

The school administration is at wits ends to put an end to the outbreaks, which have also been blamed on the prolonged hot and dry season.

Another theory is that the bad spirits were sent to the school by revengeful parents whose children were expelled from school.