Animism, occultism, mysticism, spiritualism


Hmm…now that is a most interesting prognosis. Could that be why I faced death 17 times in my life and each time I survived (13 crashes and four knife attacks)? And they say a cat has only nine lives. I have 17. I wonder how many more lives I have to use?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

The antics of the ‘Raja Bomoh’ at the KLIA recently hit the world stage in a most negative manner. Many feel that the coconut and flying carpet trick has greatly embarrassed Malaysia. It shows how superstitious and ignorant Malaysians actually are.

The non-Malays, of course, distanced themselves from this circus and say that it is a Malay thing, mainly because the bomoh and his helpers are Malays. Nevertheless, the non-Malays are equally guilty of believing in all this nonsense, just like the Malays. And many Chinese, Indians, etc., actually do visit Malay bomohs — just as the Malays seek the help of Hindu, Buddhist and Orang Asli bomohs.

The belief in the supernatural is common to those who believe in religion. Animism, occultism, mysticism and spiritualism are part and parcel of religion. Hence if you believe in religion then you would most certainly believe in the supernatural.

Did not Noah talk to God regarding the coming of the Great Flood with instructions to build an Ark (and was he not able to feed about 10-20 million living things in that Ark of only 450 feet length for an entire year)?

Did not Abraham talk to God regarding the sacrifice of his son?

Did not Moses talk to God and part the Red Sea?

Did not Jesus practice faith healing, bring dead people back to life, fight with devils, and was resurrected three days after he died?

Did not Muhammad meet Gabriel and take an overnight trip to heaven to negotiate the five-times-a-day prayers with God (plus he defeated an army three-times bigger than his with the help of angels)?

The Judeo-Christian/Muslim prophets performed all sorts of miracles and supernatural things plus talked to God. And 60% of the world believes this. (Today if someone claims he can talk to God they will lock him up in an asylum). Hence if you can believe all this, although this belief is based on hearsay and stories that cannot be proven, then you can believe almost anything.

The non-Judeo-Christians/Muslims, such as those from the Hindu or Buddhist community (who are neither Jews, Christians or Muslims), will laugh at all these superstitions. But then they, too, have their own superstitious beliefs.

For example, many believe in feng shui and will be outraged if you give them a white ang pau for Chinese New Year. They go to temples to pray to God, both Buddhists and Hindus. Many believe in bomohs, holy people, priests, shrines, statues, good luck charms and emulates.

Everyone believes in some sort of supernatural thing whether it is a personal God, a symbol, an icon, a holy article (such as an emulate of Buddha or some Christian Saint, a crucifix, etc.), or whatever.

What do you think those ‘holy things’ hanging around your neck are? And what about those shrines in your house? And what about all those statues in your house or in the temple? They are all symbols of animism, occultism, mysticism and spiritualism and reflect your belief in the supernatural.

Religion and God itself is a belief in the supernatural and most Malaysians are believers in their own and different ways. So don’t tell me that this bomoh thing is superstitious nonsense. Even if you do not believe in bomohs you do believe in another form of superstitious nonsense.

My early education was at the Alice Smith School in Kuala Lumpur. Halfway through standard six, I was transferred to a local school in Meru, Kelang — mainly because I had to sit for my 11-plus exam to be able to continue to form one (or else I would have to be ‘transferred’ to a secondary school in the UK).

Understandably, the syllabus was completely alien to me and with just six months before the exams I had great difficult adapting. The headmaster wrote to my father that there is no hope I will pass the 11-plus exams.

A member of my family (not my parents) took me to the Makam Habib Noh or Keramat Habib Noh, a mausoleum of a religious person in Singapore, to ‘ask for something’, whatever it was that I wanted. I asked to be able to pass my 11-plus exams, which was actually an impossible request.

Habib Noh

The Makam Habib Noh in Singapore that I went to in 1962 when I was 12

Lo and behold, I not only passed the exams but I also passed with flying colours that qualified me to be admitted into that most prestigious and elite school at that time, the Malay College Kuala Kangsar or MCKK. Either I am a genius or a miracle had just happened, the result of my request to Habib Noh, deceased.

Now tell, me, would that not make you a believer in the supernatural when you are the beneficiary of a miracle?

I was about 16 when two friends invited me to join them to visit a bomoh to ask for Turf Club lottery numbers. The bomoh gave us some numbers and we went all over buying up all the winning numbers for the Saturday draw. That was the first time in my life that I ever bought lottery numbers. None of the numbers came up, of course, so we blew all our money.

On Monday, my friend came running all excited. “Did you buy the Sunday draw?” he asked me. I did not realise that there were draws on Saturday AND Sunday. “No I did not,” I told him. And neither did he.

He then showed me the newspapers. Our number came up for second prize. None of us had bought the Sunday draw or else I would have been a very rich 16-year old. Of course, once was enough. I never did that again in my entire life. However, it made me a believer in bomohs who can give you winning lottery numbers (although I do not believe all that now).

And this bomoh had many clients, Chinese and Indians included. One day, one Chinese towkay won a huge amount of money on the number that this bomoh had given him and the towkay bought the bomoh a motorcycle as a present. Not long after that the bomoh crashed and died and probably 1,000 people who could no longer get winning lottery numbers cursed the towkay.

One thing that you may not know is Malaysian politicians very strongly believe in bomohs, even those from the opposition. Anwar Ibrahim, too, has his shaman, an Indian millionaire who has on his payroll dozens of bomohs from all over the world. I personally know this man, of course, and he makes sure that Anwar is ‘protected’ at all times.

When I was detained under ISA in 2001, one of the Special Branch officers asked me whether I have a bomoh working for me. I was very surprised by this question and I asked him why he asked me that.

He replied that in his line of work he also uses ‘protection’ and he is of the opinion that I, too, am ‘protected’, and very powerfully on top of that, because mine is neutralising his. He can feel that I have a very strong whatever it is I am using.

I assured the Special Branch officer that I do not use any ‘protection’ because I do not believe in all that nonsense. He was convinced, however, that I was lying because, according to him, he can feel it. And it is extremely strong — the first time he had ever faced such a strong ‘force’.

When my wife visited me I asked her whether she was using a bomoh to ‘protect’ me. She said, certainly not. I then told her what the Special Branch officer had told me and she joked, “Ah, but that is because you have Bugis blood in you and your ancestors are all fierce warriors mentioned in the history books. So the spirits of your ancestors are protecting you.”

Hmm…now that is a most interesting prognosis. Could that be why I faced death 17 times in my life and each time I survived (13 crashes and four knife attacks)? And they say a cat has only nine lives. I have 17. I wonder how many more lives I have to use.