‘Oily men’ strike fear in Malaysian village

Residents of a village in Selangor, Malaysia are on the lookout for what they say are two supernatural beings that have been terrorising their homes and families.

Known as orang minyak or “oily men”, the creatures are said to be human-shaped and sized, but are dressed only in their underwear and appear to be covered from head to toe in shiny black oil.

The beings were first brought to light by P. Ramlee’s 1956 film entitled Sumpah Orang Minyak (The Curse of the Oily Man), and were featured again in a 2007 local production going by their namesake, but the villagers of Kampung Laksamana in Gombak, Selangor, are convinced there is truth to this phenomenon.

Malaysian newspaper The Star reported that since just before the Christmas period, villagers have told of numerous sightings of the creatures. Over the Christmas period, the paper reported that some 200 people patrolled the village streets, many of whom brandished parangs (machetes) and axes.

Residents, it reported, have also vowed to continue their nightly patrols until the two creatures are caught.

One resident who spoke to the paper, 33-year-old Aslam Khan, who claimed to have seen both the orang minyak, described one to be tall, stocky and bald, and the other to be thin and curly-haired.

“It was breathing really loudly, like a cow,” Aslam said, relating one occasion where he spotted the bald orang minyak hiding behind the water tank of a house in the wee hours of the morning.

“It was black and shiny,” he continued. “When I shone my light on it, the thing stuck out its head to look back at me. Before I could do anything, it climbed up the roof and disappeared.”

Legend has it that orang minyak are humans who practice dark arts, either because they made deals with the devil in exchange for personal wishes or were forced into doing so after botched black magic rituals. They are supposedly required to rape anywhere between 40 and 99 virgins, whom the orang minyak are said to be able to recognise, before being liberated from their circumstances, or in order to hold up their end of the deals, depending on which story you read or movie you watch.

Another Malaysian daily, the Sinar Harian, reported that encounters with an orang minyak compelled a family to move out of their house after being tormented by it over five days.

36-year-old Kamal Bahari Satar told the Sinar Harian that his sister-in-law saw the “apparition” inside and outside their house, adding that only female members of the family were able to see it.

It apparently locked some of his family inside the house on Christmas eve, and he said that they saw a “black heap” beneath their kitchen table.

“When other residents poked it with a bamboo stick, we could see blood stains,” he told the daily, adding that police also found black footprints outside their house that evening.

Islamic faith healers who spoke to The Star said that orang minyak douse their bodies in oil in order to assist with camouflage and evade capture, and cannot use violence to do so, only magic.

“It also keeps on coming back to the same place to taunt the people and show off its abilities,” said Darussalam healer Ustaz Ismail Kamus, who also told the paper that they tend to take a few months to learn the magic that is involved, but an orang minyak that has mastered the black magic will be able to walk through walls and vanish into thin air.

Previous sightings of orang minyak in Malaysia, however, have turned out to have less to do with the supernatural than with human foibles. A Yahoo! Malaysia report relates how in September last year, residents in the Taman Pinggiran Batu Caves, located just two kilometres away from Kampung Laksamana, captured a man who was disguised as an orang minyak. Police later arrested the imposter, whom the report said was believed to be a black magic practitioner.

The villagers have since filed a police report and sought help from alternative healers, including a bomoh, reported The Star. They also organise nightly prayer sessions seeking protection from the evil “spirits”.

They say this episode might be a blessing in disguise, however, as residents have rallied together against the creatures despite differing political differences.

Office worker K Paramisavam told The Star that he never really spoke to his neighbours before this, saying, “At the most, I would just acknowledge them (in the past). Now I actually talk and get to know them. The ‘neighbourly’ spirit has been enhanced by these happenings.”

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