Mount Pleasant Cemetery
Upper Thomson Road, Singapore
Located beside the Police Academy on
Thomson Road, Mount Pleasant Cemetery is not a place for the fainthearted, especially for people scared of spirits.
The cemetery was once part of the 86ha Bukit Brown Chinese Cemetery on Lornie Road. The land was acquired by the colonial government in 1919 and opened as a cemetery in 1922. George Henry Brown bought the place and named it Mount Pleasant, but it was also known as Brown’s Hill. There was a misconception that Bukit Brown was named so because there used to be a coffee plantation over the hill. Nonetheless, due to the construction of the Pan-Island Expressway, the cemetery was split into two.
While both cemeteries share the same history, Mount Pleasant Cemetery contradicts its name.
Surrounded by jungle and wilderness, it has an eerier atmosphere than Bukit Brown. Visitors are far fewer at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. In fact, many drivers pass by the area without realizing what is there.
There is a narrow, snaking pathway leading deep into the cemetery with a metal chain strung across to keep cars out, but there is no other clue that this is a cemetery. Soon after passing the chain, you can see the tombs on both sides, some of them cracked with age.
But at night, the tombs are barely visible because of the tall Angsana trees surrounding them; the cemetery plunges into pitch darkness. What makes the cemetery notorious is not the dead in the tombs, but sightings of the evil spirit Pontianak and the sounds of her spine-chilling laugh as she flies over the trees at night.
According to Malay legend, the Pontianak is a vengeful female spirit that originated from women who died during childbirth and are cursed.
Before the place was bought by George Brown, it was a local Javanese village in medieval times that was dominated by Malay Bomohs or shamans who practiced black magic. One popular black art during that time was to create and control such Pontianak vampires as servants, some even as assassins. The Javanese village vanished in time, and the land turned into a cemetery in the last century. But those Pontianaks remain and roam free there.
Gruesome rumor has it that, at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, men died on open ground with their bodies shredded—guts and male organs were stripped off and scattered around the cemetery. That gave rise to the fear that the mythical creatures were the suspected killers.
Some people want to believe that the Pontianak sightings are really some of the many monkeys or animal predators that inhabit the area. In fact, it was reported that in 1896 a tiger was shot at Mount Pleasant. But for believers, the area is extremely haunted and is a location to be avoided.