Another night to steer clear of the haunted highway

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 November, 1997, 12:00am

NOVEMBER is a chilling and potentially dangerous time to be driving along Scotts Road, one of Singapore's oldest thoroughfares, at night.

Lined along one side and stretching up on to Goodwood Hill remain a cluster of spectacular 'black and whites', grand throw-backs to the British colonial times when they were built as quarters for expatriate officers and so named after their distinctively painted exteriors.

While Singapore's colonial masters may be long gone, most of the homes are still inhabited by thick-skinned expatriates and spurned by superstitious Chinese. And perhaps rightly so.

The first home one encounters when turning off into Scotts Road from Orchard Road is a large house, occupied until recently by a former US Gulf War Marine, turned businessman, and his family.

He initially scoffed at talk of ghosts after hearing that previous tenants had not lasted long. But when away on business, his children would tell their mother they had seen Daddy on the lawn, claiming they had seen a Western man strolling by in khaki shorts.

With suspicions aroused and following a little investigation, they discovered the field behind the house had supposedly been used by the Japanese as a site for torturing the British during World War II and contained a mass grave.

Nearby stands the Goodwood Park Hotel, used as a command post by the occupying Japanese forces.

In November four years ago, a Catholic priest was called in to exorcise the ghost. While in the process, a fatal car accident occurred on the street outside.

The anniversary of that night has been marked by strange incidents each year. Last year, on the same day, a driver mysteriously skidded into a ditch, claiming she saw a figure cross her path.

It transpired no one had been around.

With the anniversary looming this year, the Americans have just moved out, though not without incident. Home alone on the eve of his departure, the father of the house popped downstairs to get a beer at 3 am. He returned upstairs to find his briefcase flung open across the room. He quickly checked into a hotel.

'You might not be believe in ghosts, but it might be better not to drive past that house on the anniversary of the exorcism - just in case,' said a neighbour.

Buildings used as torture chambers during the Japanese occupation have been the subject of numerous chilling tales over the years.

No wonder so many of the locals are reluctant to live in them.