|The ghostly Hillview Mansion.|
Ever since I wrote about the haunting of the Hillview Mansion in this blog eight years ago, it has become the most searched for, the most visited, and most read article of my blog. I guess many people are simply obsessed by hauntings, by ghost stories or just simply curious. Most are skeptical but still piqued by the possibility and like to know that little bit more. I still get requests from readers, almost on a weekly basis, wanting to know the story behind the haunted house.
Over the years, I have seen so many speculations and conspiracy theories about this place. None of which have come close to the real reason why the Hillview Mansion became as it was.
I have put off revealing the real reasons for the past eight years simply because some of the people involved were, or are still, around and it just wasn't helpful to add to the speculation.
So now, after eight long years of keeping the mystery a secret, and to dispel any further speculations, I will reveal the story....well, at least a major part of it.
There are two parts to this story:
Firstly, why the house was abruptly abandoned, and secondly, why it became haunted.
EVERYONE, STOP WORK AND LEAVE !
It is absolutely true that the construction of the mansion at Jalan Dermawan was stopped abruptly.
No notice of a slowdown or postponement. It was simply everything halt, down tools and get out of the property immediately. So what had really happened to reach this dramatic point in March 1986?
As in all dramas, true or fictional, the story reaches further out than you'd expect.
Here, it all has to do with shenanigans at a totally and seemingly unrelated place.
You would have known by now, if you had read the story of the mansion, that the place was owned by Mr Chua Boon Peng. He was then the chairman of Cycle and Carriage Ltd, a major vehicle distributor and land developer. C&C owned many properties in Hillview. These would be developed into houses and condominiums in future. However, this plot at the top of Jalan Dermawan, was personally owned by Chua. It was said that he paid $7m at that time for the land. He wanted to build a villa for his wife and family, and so construction of his villa began sometime in 1985.
Dirty dealings at Raffles Place
If you are old enough to recall events in the mid-1980s, while Singapore was well on its way to become an Asian Tiger, there were also some major financial scandals that rocked, or rather caused earthquakes, in the local business world. Two separate meltdowns involved companies called Lamipak Industries Pte Ltd and Pan Electric Industries Ltd. Hundreds of millions of dollars were lost and it even led to the closure of the local bourse for a time. The spectacular collapse of these darling blue chip companies caused the entire business world to go into a dizzy spin.
It was the debacle at the former company Lamipak Industries Pte Ltd that caused collateral damage to the Hillview Mansion. (Note: Lamipak Industries Pte Ltd of 1985 is unrelated to the similarly named Lamipak companies of today)
Lamipak Industries in 1985 was Singapore's largest manufacturer of plastic products. Famously, they had invented a method to use high-density polymer to manufacture the ubiquitous thin plastic bags. They also made the machinery to roll these out which was sold internationally. With some push from the government, Lamipak had become a world leader and a household name for plastic manufacturing. It was one of Singapore's industrial blue-eyed boys.
But success got into the heads of those that mattered. Books were fiddled, credit fraudulently obtained and when the game was up, they were in a $140m hole from which they couldn't get out of. Directors were jailed and the company was declared bankrupt.
How is this tied in to the Hillview House?
Lamipak Industries had a subsidiary company called Panther Pte Ltd. Lamipak owned 25% of Panther, while Panther's chairman owned 38%. Panther's chairman was none other than Mr Chua Boon Peng.
When Lamipak Industries became insolvent, the banks pulled their credit from Panther as well. Chua was personally liable for loans totalling almost $19m to the banks. He was a guarantor to the banks for the loans to Panther.
To raise funds to repay the debt, Chua had to sell many of his possessions that included a house at Oei Thong Ham Park, as well as the plot at Hillview where the villa was being built!
And so, the construction ceased immediately with the decision to sell the land.
Part One of the mystery solved!
So then, how did it evolved into a haunted house?
Was it because a lady died (true) when she was struck by lightning there at the abandoned house? Was it because of all the seances being held at the abandoned building? Was it because of bad feng shui? Were the dead cats buried there part of some nefarious ritual? Why was it left abandoned for three decades and access restricted by barbed wires?
Part two will reveal all in due time.
|What's left of the Hillview Mansion being completely demolished and removed in 2007.|