Children At Seletar Reservoir

This true story happened when I was an instructor in NS. It happened in the forest clearing near the edge of the Seletar Reservoir on a bright sunny afternoon some time in 1984.

I was an army corporal in charge of a section of trainees. Having practised how to pitch tents, I de-briefed my trainees on the do’s and don’ts of pitching a tent. My back was facing the forest interior. My trainees were facing me and the forest interior behind me.

As I was talking, I noticed that one of my trainees, Toh K.L., seemed to be watching something behind me. Instinctively, I turned around. There was nothing unusual. Just the forest interior. There was a long branch dangling from a tree, swinging left and right.

I continued my de-brief. Again, Toh seemed distracted by something behind me. I turned around and did not notice anything unusual, just the swinging branch. I asked Toh in Hokkien, “Toh, what did you see?” He simply replied, “Nothing”.

I carried on my de-brief. This time, the trainees were whispering excitedly among themselves. I looked behind me. There was nothing unusual. Just the swinging branch. Annoyed, I asked Toh in a harsher tone of voice, “Toh, what did you see?! Tell me!” Only then, he replied in low hush tones, “I saw something”. But he dared not go further.

I did not take him too seriously then. But little did I notice that although the branch was swinging, the leaves on the trees did not rustle. There was no wind or breeze at that time.

After I finished my de-brief, I ordered my men to join the platoon to get ready to march back to camp.

What happened next was inexplicable. I got up, turned around and walked towards the branch. Suddenly, I felt dizzy and could not move forward. Luckily, I found the will and strength to turn back and join the platoon.

It was only at a live firing range the next morning that I took the opportunity to ask Toh again. “Toh, what did you see yesterday afternoon?” Only then did he reply. “Corporal, I saw… I saw children. They normally come out to play at night. But somehow, upon seeing so many Botak heads (soldiers), they were induced to come out to play that afternoon.”

And you know what they were doing? They were playing the branch like a swing in the children’s playground!

It was only then did I discover that Toh was a “Tung-Kee”; a Chinese medium. I also found out that he was not supposed to identify or call the spirits openly for fear of provoking them.

I was still skeptical. Maybe Toh was bluffing. I decided to test him. But he asked me whether the leaves on the trees were rustling, while the branch moved.

When I realised what happened, I freaked out. My hair stood on end. Up until then, I heard many ghost stories or ghostly encounters from fellow NSmen. But never a personal encounter.

To you readers out there, the next time you go to Seletar Reservoir off Mandai Road, beware of the forest clearing, whether you go there in the day or night time. It is situated in the forest clearing just about 20 to 30 metres from a small white stone pavilion (not sure if it is still there) near the public toilet. The toilet is situated at the end of the road that runs on top a man-made dam between the reservoir and a grass slope. At the other end of the road is the observation tower.

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