I REFER to the report “Help sought to rid school of ‘bad spirits’” (The Star, April 15).
Interestingly, all the research done on mass hysteria in Malaysia shows that this behaviour only happens to Malay girls, especially those working in factories, as well as among Malay lower secondary school girls including those staying in hostels.
In the 70s when I was in Malacca, many electronic factories working on round-the-clock operations had to temporarily close for a few days when mass hysteria reared its ugly head.
The hysteria would usually happen during the graveyard shift (in the early morning hours) and although non-Malays were working side by side with their Malay colleagues, the former were surprisingly not affected.
It needed only one female Malay employee to start crying hysterically and then the rest would follow.
The bomohs were summoned to drive away the evil spirits. They were tasked with “cleansing” the factory and holding religious recitals and prayers. But alas the so-called “solution” was to be short-lived.
The management of the factories was at a loss on how to address the problem. Since the incidents became more prevalent, productivity and output were adversely affected. In addition to engaging bomohs, the factory management also sought the help of experts and university professors.
One of the professors who conducted the study was Prof Datuk Ir Dr Abu Bakar Jaafar.
After an exhaustive and comprehensive study, he informed me that the findings revealed the food intake of the different employees was the main cause of the problem. It seemed the Chinese employees took sufficient amounts of protein in their daily diet but not the Malays. They only ate small amounts of protein and this made them prone to attacks of hysteria.
The study recommended that the management add more protein-rich food, such as anchovies, to the food served in the canteen. This was quickly implemented and, interestingly enough, the problem just went away.
I would strongly recommend to the principal of the school (SMK Pengkalan Chepa 2, Kota Baru) that the pupils be served more protein-rich food.
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