This page is dedicated to the innocent individuals who have lost their lives in East Coast Park, Kallang River and the Singapore River over the past 10 years. Dedicated to the people who drowned even though they were supposed to be good swimmers. To the people whose bodies were found floating, yet without any evidence of suicide intent. For these people, their story will never be told.
The Policeman of Sungei Bedok
This is a true story. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
It is well known that good Kim Bak Loh (KBL, also known as Sea Bass, Barramundi or Ikan Siakap) fishing spots are often found in secluded areas. It is also well known that large KBL only come out at night… secluded spots at night.
The Setting Sungei Bedok is actually a canal off Old Bedok Road (behind the former Long Beach restaurant). It flows to the sea and most of you who have been to East Coast Park have probably seen it. If you head towards Changi Airport, it appears after the PA Sports Centre.
I knew that there were KBL in Sungei Bedok. Together with my friends, Beng and Hock, I bought some live prawns and went there at around 11pm. Everything was perfect for KBL fishing. The tide, the date of chinese calender, and the location.
When we reached there we immediately rigged up and cast our live prawns. We didn’t talk much, we were there on a mission – to catch KBL. Beng went to my left to fish near the bridge. Hock went to my right. This way we had a good spread over the area. After only ten minutes, Beng came to me and said
“Tang, I think there’s no fish over here. We better pack up, don’t waste time.”
I looked at Beng incredulously. I had gone all the way to Lavender Street to buy live prawns and this friend of mine was telling me to pack up when we haven’t even used half the bait. I told him straight off:
“We’ve only been here ten minutes. Come on man, how come you so impatient one?”
Beng replied that he didn’t feel like fishing anyway, this place sure got no fish, and he went over to join Hock. After a while, both of them went to the back, sat down to drink from their thermos and ate their snacks. In my mind I was thinking, wah lau man choose the wrong kakis to go fishing. Nevermind, I’ll go over to the bridge to fish. KBL always like to hide near structures.
The Encounter I stood beside the bridge and cast my prawn near the pillar. I was enjoying myself, hunting for my quarry.
After a few minutes, I heard someone running through the bushes behind me. I thought it was Beng running up to give me a scare, so I turned around. There was nobody.
I assumed it must have been my imagination, so I resumed fishing. After another 30 seconds, I heard the footsteps again. This time whoever it was had to be a metre or so behind me, but he seemed to be running around from left to right. I was fed up with all this horsing around, I turned around sharply to scold Beng.
“Beng! Don’t play the foo…..” Again, there was nobody.
I quickly scanned the area. There was nobody in the vicinity! The closest people were Beng and Hock, but even they were at least 50 metres away. Suddenly, my hair stood on end. Because that only meant one thing. I briskly walked over to the guys, and I could see that both of them also looked quite scared.
“Come let’s go back, Beng you’re right, this place got no KBL.”
Neither of us said anything on the way back. But when we reached home, Beng explained what had happened.
“There was this malay policeman, he was quite tall about 6 foot and he had a very angry expression on his face. When I was fishing by the bridge he kept charging towards my body, like a bull. But everytime he came to contact me he bounced off. He tried charging to me a few times, like as though he was unhappy that I was standing there. I hinted to you to pack up, but you didn’t get the hint, so I and Hock went behind. Then you went over to that spot. Wah lau, you damm irm zai see. From where we were, we could see the policeman running towards you, but everytime you turned around, he disappeared into thin air. You better thank your lucky stars man, otherwise you might have been possessed or something.”
I was shocked. So ghosts really exist?
I checked with my uncle, who has stayed in Bedok area since his childhood. He said:
“Aiyah, you should have told me you were going there. In the 1970s, the gangster Koh Sek Lim killed a malay policeman near the bridge. Came out in the papers. The gangster challenged the policeman, “You want to catch us right? Meet us at the bridge on this date and time and you can catch us.” Of course, the unfortunate policeman was stupid to go alone – he was stabbed to death by the gang. Koh told the police that the murder was committed as ‘an example to the police’.”
So there we have it. It could not have been Beng’s imagination, because he described the ghost perfectly without knowing about the murder. Back in the 1970s he was only a toddler. It could not have been my imagination either, because I was interested in fishing for KBL, not looking for such experiences.
One frequently reads about people asking in the Fishing Singapore Forum etc.
“where to catch KBL? what time to catch KBL?”
I am worried for these beginners.
The Liang Court Experience
Diehard fishos like me don’t get scared by just one incident. So there I was back to my old habits a couple of months later. This time I became even more ‘chia lak’. This time I chose to fish alone because I had learnt from a number of occasions not to rely on impatient ‘kakis’.
It is known among KBL enthusiasts that the mother KBLs (larger than 5kg) need to go to brackish (half salt half fresh) water to breed. The salinity of the water is conducive for their eggs, according to researchers. Brackish estuaries can be found e.g. in Pulau Ubin, Lorong Halus, Kallang River or Singapore River. But you have to go upstream from the sea to find the correct salinity. In the Singapore River, the correct salinity is only found behind Liang Court. I went to the area behind Liang Court and started spinning my live prawn. I could see the people enjoying themselves in Clarke Quay. I wondered what I was doing here on a Saturday night.
Suddenly out of the blue I felt that the faces of a few people were staring at me. You know the feeling right? When someone is looking at you, you can feel it. But the strange thing was that I was the only person in the vicinity. Now let me assure you that I was not trying to imagine things. I was here to hunt KBL, and my mind was set on fishing, not such eerie thoughts. I tried to ignore it, but the sudden image of faces (men and women) just appeared in my mind.
It spooked me a bit, and I figured there that this place was “unclean”. I immediately packed up my tacklebox and left. Later I asked my father about it and he told me that a car had crashed into the river at the spot where I was fishing a few years ago. (during the era when The Warehouse was happening) All the passengers died of drowning because they could not get out of the car. I do not wish to draw any inferences from this incident, for it could be purely my imagination. I’m sure if Beng was around with me that night he could tell me what he saw.
Lessons to Learn
I am not trying to discourage anyone from fishing at night, all I’m saying is be careful and take precautions. I wouldn’t want other people to experience such things in their life – it is not fun, trust me. I for one will not go fishing at night in Lorong Halus or any river by myself anymore.
Here are some suggestions.
If possible, don’t fish at night. Large fish can be caught in the day if you go out to sea. If you’re Christian, bring a cross. If you’re Buddhist or Taoist, bring some charm or talisman. If you’re a free thinker, better start believing in God. Never fish alone. (Refer to the Kranji case, below) If your kaki tells you let’s pack up and go home, pack up and go home-don’t ask him so many questions.
There is no such thing as a once in a lifetime chance of catching KBL. Even if you see KBL chasing schools of mullet in the middle of the river never, ever feel tempted to enter the water so you can get nearer to the fish. (Refer to the St John’s Island case, below)
Here are some other stories I have heard…..
The Kranji Case
My driving instructor told me this story. His uncle always liked to go fishing for Snakehead (also known as Ikan Toman or Siam Loi) in Kranji Reservoir. As every true blue fishermen knows, the best time to catch snakehead is early in the morning (6.45-7.45) or late in the evening. So his uncle always went alone on Sunday mornings before the sun rises to Kranji reservoir to hunt for his elusive quarry.
One day he didn’t come back from his fishing trip. Rangers later found his body floating in the middle of the reservoir. To date, the family has no explanation for the death. Furthermore, his fishing rod was still in the shore. No one knows why he entered the water. No one will ever know. Moral of the story: Never fish alone.
The St John’s Island Case
I read this story in True Singapore Ghost Stories. This girl went swimming in the waters of St John’s island at night, and in the middle of swimming across the reef, she suddenly felt many hands in the water touching her and groping her body. Needless to say she was terrified and swam back to her boat. Luckily, she survived.
This “hand phenomenon” is not new or indigenous to Singapore. I have heard from one Malaysian friend that his classmate drowned when crossing the river in Gunung Ledang (Mount Ophir). On recovery of the body, the rescuers discovered hand marks on the ankles of the victim. Similarly in Lake Toba, they say never enter the water because of the evil spirits. I was also surprised when I discovered while visiting Loch Ness last year that the Scottish locals never swim in the water because they believe that the ‘kelpie’ will try to drown them.
I would not be surprised if the many deaths in Kallang River are caused by such evil spirits. It is said that when a person drowns, the only way his spirit can leave the place is to take the life of another by drowning. In other words it is a vicious cycle. How far that is to be believed, I leave it to you. Moral of the story: Never, ever enter the water, especially at night.
Another famous KBL, mangrove jack and tarpon spot, I have read here that people have encountered ghosts that beg for food. So don’t go there at night if you don’t want to experience it, go to Pasir Ris Fishing Pond instead where there’s more people. Moral of the story: Avoid Lorong Halus at night, especially during the 7th Month.