In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Malaysia was seized by numerous episodes of spirit possession among young Malay women factory workers. In 1975, forty operators were possessed by spirits in a large American electronics plant based in Sungai Way, then an industrialising town in the rapidly urbanising state of Selangor in Peninsular Malaysia. In 1978, there was a second large-scale incident of spirit possession involving some 120 operators. The factory had to be closed for three days and a bomoh (traditional Malay healer or shaman) was hired to slaughter a goat on the premises to appease the spirits and make them leave. The American director was at a loss to explain to corporate headquarters that they had lost 8,000 hours of production time because someone saw a ghost.

These were not matter-of-fact accounts of ghost sightings. Women workers would suddenly sob, laugh, shriek, and flail violently at their workstations. Often, this spontaneous behaviour would spread to other workers in the vicinity like wildfire. Factory supervisors were powerless to stop the ensuing chaos. When they had recovered, many of the women forgot what had happened, but some recalled seeing were-tigers, long-tongued creatures licking used sanitary pads in the toilets, and other malevolent spirits.

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