Taoist medium dies performing “human steaming” stunt

A 68-year-old Taoist medium known for performing a controversial “human steaming” stunt has died in his latest attempt to complete the ritual.

The Star reported that Lim Ba had allowed himself to be “steamed” along with food such as rice, sweet corn and buns in a covered wok above a fire for the Nine Emperor Gods celebration on Monday (Oct 23) night.

Although he is believed to have performed the stunt several times over the past decade with a record of 75 minutes, he did not manage to pull his latest attempt off.

It was reported that 30 minutes into the ritual at a Kuala Sanglang temple, devotees heard “desperate and irregular” knocks coming from inside the wok.

When they removed the cover, they found Lim unconscious.

He was later pronounced dead at the scene. He had reportedly suffered a heart attack and second-degree burns.

According to Lim’s 32-year-old son, he had undergone a heart bypass just last year, and was taking medication for hypertension.

Lim’s daughter, also in her 30s, was quoted by The Star as saying that he had only eaten sweet potato and green bean biscuits on the day of the ritual.

Federation of Taoist Associations of Malaysia (FTAM) president Tan Hoe Chioew told The Star that the ritual was not considered a mainstream rite, but a “fa shu” or magic performance instead.

Tan added that while a stunt like that is done to show off the performer’s physical endurance, “doing such physical endurance stunts is not advisable”.