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Home > Horror News > Local Horror News > Coffin Next To His Bed
Coffin Next To His Bed
By: RSS/News Feeds

Student says 1.2m coffin in Woodlands HDB flat is for deity to live in

By Desmond Ng
Aug 27, 2006
The New Paper

THE room is dark – the windows kept closed, curtains drawn. Not a sliver of sunlight slips through. In the corner of this gloomy, musty HDB bedroom lies a 1.2m traditional Chinese coffin – the kind you see in Chinese vampire movies.

It is the prized possession of ITE student Peh Zhi Xiang, 21. He has been sleeping next to it in his three-room flat in Woodlands for the last three years.

Creepy? Well, his family and neighbours don’t seem to think so. Never mind that the coffin is the supposed resting place of a deity from Hades, the underworld of the dead.

Said Mr Peh’s mum, Madam Ng Ah Hoe, 55, in Hokkien: ‘I’m okay as long as he’s not breaking the law.’

‘The deity is supposed to be protecting us.’

While most men his age hanker after the latest technological gadget, Mr Peh’s dream is to own an even bigger coffin. The coffin in his room – which can fit a child – is still too small, he said. He wants a 2m coffin, which will cost him well over $1,000.

What’s with the morbid obsession?

Mr Peh is a tang kee (spirit medium) and the coffin is in honour of the dua yi ah pek deity (Big Second Uncle in Hokkien) which he pays his respects to. Mr Peh told The New Paper on Sunday in a mixture of Mandarin and Hokkien: ‘The coffin is a place for this deity to reside in. I use it to drive spirits from those who are possessed.


‘It’s also a talisman against evil and brings prosperity to the owner.

‘It’s not something to be scared of. It’s supposed to help people.’

There’s a no-sunlight policy in his room as the deity hates light, he added. And no one is allowed to touch the coffin except Mr Peh. This is to prevent others from putting a spell on the coffin, he explained.

He sleeps alone in the room, but shares the flat with with his parents and two younger siblings. Mr Peh bought the coffin from a coffin-maker in Kallang for about $300 three years ago. No questions were asked as it is not unusual for mediums to keep coffins, he said. But when the coffin was carried up into his flat, some of his neighbours were curious.

Recalled Mr Peh: ‘One neighbour kept giving us funny looks. He looked a bit scared and suspicious but didn’t say anything.’

Doesn’t he feel his coffin could make neighbours uncomfortable? Well, as long as he is not harming anyone, Mr Peh said he felt he should be left alone. He even claimed the coffin has made him a better person.

‘I don’t go out so much now or stay up late. In the past, I used to fight a lot, but not so now,’ he said.

Mr Peh is pursuing a National ITE Certificate in mechanical technology. He was drawn to Taoist culture when he joined a lion dance troupe at 9. He became a medium four years later after he claimed he was possessed by the dua yi ah pek deity in a temple.


And so began his coffin collection. Even as a teen, Mr Peh wanted a coffin. He didn’t know where to get a real one then, so he bought miniature ones for under $20 from Fu Lu Shou Complex. Mr Peh’s flat resembles a mini-temple. There are more than 50 Taoist deities displayed on three altars in the living room.

Joss sticks, candles and incense paper are scattered around the flat. Five small coffins – the smallest one about the size of a pencil case and the biggest about 30cm long – are lined up side by side on one altar.

Mr Peh calls them his ‘babies’. He said most of his friends are Taoists and do not find it strange that he has a coffin in his room.

Neighbours The New Paper on Sunday spoke to also did not take issue with the coffin. Madam KY Cheong, 55, who lives downstairs, said in Mandarin: ‘I don’t mind because they’re just practising their religion.

‘It’s nothing scary.’

Mr Tan Kok Hian, the first deputy chairman of the Taoist federation, said some people keep miniature coffins for prosperity. Coffin, or guan cai in Mandarin, alludes to prosperity (fa cai in Mandarin).

It also alludes to the phrase sheng guan fa cai, which means getting a promotion and pay raise.


What the HDB says

YES, you can keep that empty coffin – but only as long as it doesn’t disturb the neighbours, said an HDB spokesman. There is no specific guideline on the storage of empty coffins in flats.

‘However, we urge flat owners to be mindful that their actions should not compromise the residential ambience of the housing estates or cause nuisance to their neighbours,’ said the spokesman.

HDB flats cannot be used for illegal or immoral purposes, or activities that will disturb residents. The flats cannot be used for public worship as well.

The spokesman said: ‘If a flat is used for public worship, the HDB would advise the occupants to cease the activities.

‘If they fail to heed the advice, the HDB can impose a penalty or repossess the flat.’

In cases of use for public worship, the HDB would first advise the occupants to stop, failing which it may impose a penalty or repossess the flat

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