When there ‘s something strange in your neighborhood, you call a ghostbuster. When there’s something strange inside your body, you call an exorcist. When you’re not satisfied with their services, who are you going to call? In Malaysia, you call the Consumer Claims Tribunal. That’s where a man in Johor Bahru, the capital of of the state of Johor in Peninsular Malaysia, went when a bomoh – a Malay shaman – failed to exorcise nine spirits from his father. Did he get his money back?
Tribunal head Samuel Mut John Brody says he was contacted by the family members of a man in his 70s whom they believed was possessed by nine different spirits. The only person they knew of who could possibly help the old man was a local bomoh who allegedly practiced spirit removal using the traditions and practices of ancient Buddhism and Hinduism.
For a fee, of course.
The ‘bomoh’ charged RM90 ($20 US) for each exorcism to free the man’s father of the spirits. So, the family forked out RM810 ($180 US) to the ‘bomoh’ to get rid of the nine spirits.
The man said his father’s condition worsened and he died a few months later.
Sounds like the family has a case, as long as they saved their receipt. Unfortunately, the Consumer Claims Tribunal was unable to help because exorcisms are not regular services but alternative services and the bomoh didn’t register his business with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia or SSM), the government body that regulates corporate and business affairs in Malaysia. Brody recommends that anyone needing a bomoh or exorcist or someone providing similar services to first ask for the provider’s company registration number, identification documents, full name and other documents to prove they’re legitimate exorcists.
They might also want to check the newspapers. In 2014, as the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 dragged on, a bomoh named Ibrahim Mat Zin, also known as Raja Bomoh Sedunia Nujum VIP, went to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport where the flight originated from to help in his own way.
The purpose of the rituals is to weaken the bad spirits so that the rescuers can find the plane if it indeed had crashed.
The well-publicized rituals included clapping, bamboo ‘binoculars’, a fish trap, two coconuts, a mystic cane and a ‘magic carpet’ to “weaken the elves.” As of this writing, the cause of the disappearance has still not been found.
There's probably some good bomohs out there but, when in doubt, always ask for references and avoid those who describe their service as "weakening the elves."