A ghostly figure with wild hair and a flowing beard is haunting a small Malaysian community in a bid to ensure superstitious residents stay home during the country’s coronavirus lockdown.
It is not a genuine spirit but local man Muhammad Urabil Alias, who has taken to dressing up in a white robe and mask and going on regular night-time patrols.
During his outings in his village in Kemaman, northeast Malaysia, children scream and run back into their homes as they see the “ghost” walking down the road.
Like many countries seeking to fight the spread of the virus, Malaysia has ordered people to stay at home, and closed schools and non-essential businesses.
Urabil said that he decided to start the ghost patrols after virus cases rose sharply in the country – Malaysia has so far reported over 5 000 infections and more than 80 deaths.
“I am watching the news and I see more people are dead, so I… decided to scare people,” the 38-year-old told AFP.
And his creative method of ensuring people stick to the rules appears to be effective in a country where belief in the supernatural runs deep, particularly in rural areas.
Muhammad Abdillah said whenever the town’s youngsters see him on patrol, they “run like crazy back to their homes. Now before they go out, they have to check whether the ghost is around or not”.
When Urabil posted a photo of himself dressed as a ghost on social media, it quickly went viral and prompted a visit by the police to his house.
He said he was initially worried they were going to arrest him — but instead the officers thanked him for his efforts and had their photo taken with him.