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Haunting news from Balai Berita

The reportedly haunted Balai Berita (Yahoo! Newsroom photo)
The reportedly haunted Balai Berita (Yahoo! Newsroom photo)

Another view of Balai Berita (Yahoo! Newsroom photo).
Another view of Balai Berita (Yahoo! Newsroom photo).

Alarmed over otherworldly sightings and demonic possessions within its office building, the New Straits Times recently took the drastic step of calling in a team of bomoh to 'cleanse' its headoffice at Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Several bomoh (shaman) were called in at about 9pm last Saturday after a staff member was reportedly possessed by a spirit while working out in the company gym on the second floor of the building.

All staff members in the NST newsroom, located on the same floor, were told to vacate the premises for about half-an-hour while the bomoh ‘cleansed’ the building.

A staff member said the woman who had been allegedly possessed was behaving ‘like a tiger’ adding that she roared when the bomoh entered the gym.

The 'cleansing' exercise temporarily halted production of the New Sunday Times, at an hour when operations are usually at a peak. However, the staff managed to meet their production deadline, despite the delay.

When contacted, several NST staff who declined to be named said the company’s Jalan Riong premises has been plagued by ghostly apparitions for years. They claim that people have seen the ghost of a girl with long black hair, a jinn, a headless man and a being with no face.

“The worst affected parts of the building are the rear lifts, toilet and car park,” said one staff, adding that the company's security guards are among those who’ve seen the ghosts.

The employee also claimed that the sightings has increased after an unoccupied part of the complex’s older block was refurbished and re-tenanted.

Red-eyed jinn

Another staff member claimed that an employee working for Berita Harian - the sister publication of the NST which shares the same premises - saw a red-eyed jinn sitting on a car as she entered the 21-storey car park late one night.

Asked if there had been any deaths on the premises, an NST editor said a construction worker had once been found hanged in the building sometime during the 1990s.

“He either committed suicide or was murdered. Nobody knows exactly,” the editor said. “After that, people began seeing things and lots of rumours began floating around. But no one ever came to any harm,”
adding that the ‘disturbances’ had never been on the scale of Saturday’s events.

However, retired New Straits Times associate editor Rehman Rashid pooh-poohed the alleged hauntings.

“I’m not denigrating the problem at all, but the concern should be more for disturbed people than the disturbed premises,” he said.

Rehman said there was nothing inexplicable about the situation.

“People work strange hours and the office is full of long corridors. People are bound to see strange shadows,” he said.

No comment

When contacted by Yahoo! Malaysia, New Straits Times Press Bhd chief executive officer Anthony Bujang declined to comment.

“I don’t have anything to say about that,” he said.

The story of Saturday’s exorcism was first brought to light by blogger 'uppercaise' who, quoting company insiders, claimed that most of the ghostly sightings occured in the car-park late at night and that the apparitions were usually seen perched on ledges.

Balai Berita has been home to the New Straits Times since 1967. The sprawling office complex also houses Berita Harian and Harian Metro, another vernacular newspaper in the NSTP stable, as well as the company’s corporate and administrative offices.

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