Friday, August 13, 2010

oily man scare 50s to 70s


with oil spills everywhere - in the gulf, china and india, we may see the re-appearance of the orang minyak - the oily man.

in the days where street lamps were few and far in between and where, in most out of town places, electricity was supplied by generators which shut down just before midnight, these conditions and environment were suitable for the oily man to operate. under the cover of darkness and smearing himself with black oil, he rendered himself almost invisible. the oil on his body also made it difficult for anyone to get a good hold on him. i believe the oily man was a normal human out to take advantage of the irrational fear of people at that time.

i am quite surprised that my blogger friend victor koo has not blogged about this.....the oily man. the area where he once lived was where the oily man made his second appearance in the 50s. the scare in the 5os first started in the area near great world city and it soon spread to middle road, victoria street and queen street area. maybe he was too young then to be frightened by the phantom prowler.

for five nights, large crowds gathered outside st anthony's convent trying to catch a glimpse of the elusive oily man. he had been seen on the roof of the building. the crowd was so big that it caused traffic jams and the police had to be called in to try to disperse the mob. however, it did not capture the interest of everyone. a friend who lived near middle road read about it in the papers; he could not be bothered to join the excited crowd. even when the police declared the 'oily man' a hoax, people continued to gather in the evening.

very soon, the sightings of the oily man were reported all over singapore, from chinatown to changi. at telok kurau, angry villagers chased a dark man clad only in blue swimming trunks. another time one man was found naked crouching beside a hedge. he carried his clothes in a bundle. there were a few reported cases where girls were attacked by a man smeared with black oil and wearing only a pair of swimming trunks.

another oily man - it could be the same man - molested a malay woman at kampong alexandra. the woman screamed and the oily man while trying to make his escape was hit on the head with a parang wielded by one of the villagers. however, he still managed to escape capture.

at zion road, the oily man was seen dancing naked on the rooftop. when he was chased, he threw stones at his pursuers.

over at clementi estate, the oily man was declared by some to have supernatural powers. according to one claim he could remain invisible, especially to men, or transform himself into a dog. 1000 police and soldiers were deployed to capture the oily man. it was so serious that they were given orders to shoot on sight.

he was seen more than once at royal air force (raf) changi. the terrified housewives of the base airmen barred their doors and bolted their windows to keep the oily man out.

actually the 50s was not the first time singapore heard of the oily man. there were also reports of the oily man earlier, in the 30s. there were also two malay films based on the oily man. the first was 'orang minyak' (oily man) and the second 'serangan orang minyak' (the oily man strikes again.) sporadic sightings of the oily character were reported in the 60s and even in the early 70s.

over in malaya, there were a number of cases in which young girls and housewives were either molested or even raped by the oily man.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Life was simple and innocent then, so those fabled sightings and extraordinary happenings added some spice to the daily mundanity.
These scared the top of many people, yet they did not cause people to be emptied of their pockets or suffer from financial distress and anguish.

Looking back, people now, with better education and access to information, would have laughed at the silliness of those days, yet today they are the ones who are proned to scams of all kinds, and sadly, many falling prey to them, and causing themselves all sorts of problems.

yg said...

so true. we seemed so naive then but some people today are still the same -just as naive - when it comes to schemes that promise them high monetary returns.

Uncle Lee said...

Hello Yg, I was looking at pics of Singapore old days via Google and came across your blog.
I read several and enjoyed your eloquence.
Love your memories of old.

I too am retired, and 1 iced coffee and 4 plain donuts, I am much older than you, ha ha.

I was from KL...know Singapore very well, back in the '70s, 80s....as Shangrila hotel, Mandarin in Orchard road, Goodwood, LadyHill, and Raffles were my 1st homes. Was in business industry then.

And before a lady handcuffed me for life, I dated several S'pore ladies and ECP, Bedok for seafood was
often my choice.

I still have with me today, still using it a Zippo cigarette lighter bought at People's park in 1972.
Oh ya, have a couple in in-laws and out-laws in Singapore. As well long lost relatives too. Somewhere Clemenceau Ave, I think.

Anyway, thanks for the memories. You stay young and have a pleasant week. Best regards, Lee.

yg said...

uncle lee, thks for the compliments.
you are a real joker. i read about all the pranks that you played and had a really good laugh.
i am still trying to figure out what you meant by '1 iced coffee and 4 plain donuts'.

Lam Chun See said...

I remember hearing about the oily man when I was quite small. In our kampong, they called him Or You Tang. Beyond that I don't recall anything.

yg said...

chun see, you are not hokkien, so you are forgiven. the term 'orr you tang' was used to refer to a loose woman. for oily man, it should be 'orr you lang'.

Victor said...

YG, you are right. Born in the mid-50s, I was probably either "still in the planning or production stages" or too young to remember anything.