MELAKA: Built decades ago, these forsaken houses still stand out amidst crowded neighbourhoods for their urban legend.
Locals would tell stories about these mostly semi-detached houses and bungalows being “occupied” by the souls of past owners which purportedly explained why the buildings had been been abandoned.
Located mostly in Bukit Baru, Banda Hilir and Klebang, they were built between the 1950s and 1970s. Some of them are estimated to have a price tag of between RM550,000 and RM1mil each.
But spooky or not, Melaka Historic City Council’s mayor Datuk Zainal Hussin is determined to find the owners and get them to spruce up their property.
He dismissed coffeeshop talk that the houses were haunted, adding that the council was going after the owners of dozens of such places located in prime areas.
“They are an eyesore. We need to clear the shrubs or cover them with zinc fencing. We want to safeguard our reputation as a top tourist destination in Asia,” he said.
Zainal said that the houses that faced the main roads and entry points to the city were the ones that the council was targeting first.
Neighbours of such abandoned premises complained about the overgrown shrubs and unkempt surroundings, he said.
The council, he said, had cleaned up many of them to avoid outbreaks of any kind.
“We will contact the owners with the help of the state Land and Mines Department,” he said. “And if they fail to respond, the council will take legal action.”
Real estate agent Jimin Lai, 60, also brushed aside talk about the supernatural.
He said the reason why the houses were abandoned was because most of the owners could have died without leaving an heir. “Others could have been left abandoned due to disputes and caveat restrictions.”
When The Star checked on one of these bungalows, a tea-stall owner in her 50s who was operating nearby, quickly rode by and said: “Jaga, jaga! (Be careful).”
She went on to relate a story about the souls of three siblings who were brutally murdered in the house about four decades ago.
Part-time real estate agent, S. Thurasingam, 43, shared his experience about an encounter in 2006 when he showed an abandoned house to a potential buyer.
“All of a sudden, an apparition appeared in front of us from one of the rooms. We ran helter-skelter,” he claimed.
Tanjung Bidara Lion Club’s past president Chew Chert Fong, who lived near a “haunted house” along Lebuh Ayer Keroh, decided to find out the answer for himself last year.
He went inside the house one midnight, armed with a torchlight and a folding chair, and sat there alone till 2am.
“At first, I had goose bumps when I heard some noise.” He soon discovered that the noise came from several kittens.
“This led me to debunk stories that the bungalows are haunted,” he said. “Any ghostly apparition is due to the unkempt surroundings.”