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What does taxi driver Ng Kiew Chay know about the disappearance of Jim Thompson?

March 4, 2015

Jim Thompson Disappears!


The mysterious disappearance of Jim Thompson has been the subject of many books, films and documentaries such as

Jim Thompson: Silk King

so I won’t bore you with the myriad of entertaining stories about Jim Thompson’s life or theories about his disappearance in Malaysia in March of 1967, and if do just google him up and read away

Jim who was born in 1906, would be well and truly long dead by now, even if he staged it and lived on.

However, for those that want some overlooked leads on what might prove to be the dullest of all endings have a squizzy at a couple of minor articles that apparently have some dots left to connect.

In early 2010 a Malaysian local newspaper called the Ipoh Echo and the Malaysian national newspaper called The Star ran stories about a talk given by Captain P.J. Rivers, a Research Fellow of Perak Academy in a local hotel who had come across a box of bones from the old hospital in Tanah Rata found in the Jungle of the Cameron Highlands (or a shallow grave on the Golf Course depending on which story you come across)

Bones May Cast Some Light to Jim Thompson’s Mystery

According to Capt. Rivers that when he was in Cameron Highlands about ten years ago, all the items from the old hospital in Tanah Rata were transferred to a new hospital and one of the items was a box containing the bones brought by Orang Asli who had found them in the jungle.

Capt. Rivers feels that those bones could solve the problem of the missing Thompson.

Firstly, it must be confirmed whether the bones belong to a Caucasian or not; if affirmative, find out whether male or female. If the bones belong to a male, further investigation should be done to confirm whether it is the remains of Jim Thompson.

Capt. Rivers ended his talk by saying that though this is a solution to the mystery, it is a costly exercise and doubts if anyone is willing to do it.

Researcher: DNA may help unravel the mysterious disappearance of ‘Thai Silk King’

A RESEARCHER believes that the clue to the mysterious disappearance of ‘Thai Silk King’ Jim Thompson may be found in bones from a grave in Cameron Highlands.

Captain Philip J. Rivers (pictured),  a long-time resident in the highlands, said the bone fragments, without the skull, were discovered at the edge of a vegetable plot off the main road in Brinchang by orang asli settlers in 1985.


Police collected the fragments but no connection was made to Thompson’s disappearance in Tanah Rata, as they were found in Brinchang and almost 30 years after his ‘death’, Rivers said at a talk on ‘He Never Left The Hills — The Real Search For Jim Thompson’ organised by the Perak Academy in Ipoh on Friday.

Among the audience were retired Asst Supt Tan Ai Bee (pictured), who was involved in the investigations on Thompson’s case, and Edward Roy De Souza, author of the bookSolved!.


“The probability is that his body lay undiscovered in the thick underbush, hidden in an unmarked grave after a hit-and-run accident. A DNA on the bones might possibly provide a fuller answer,”


In March of 2012 a story by MICHAEL CHEANG appeared in The Star that mentions an interesting fellow named Ng Kiew Chay who apparently has been given the nickname “Jim Thompson” by the Cameron Highlands locals.

Re-living the day Jim Thompson went missing

A story on Jim Thompson would not be complete without a visit to the legendary Moonlight Bungalow, the last place Thompson was seen alive.

Located high above the town of Brinchang atop a hilltop overlooking vast spans of jungle, the Moonlight Bungalow is only accessible via a small, steep road that is only wide enough to accommodate one vehicle at a time.

What intrigued us the most about Ng’s story is how everyone in Tanah Rata seemed to know of his involvement, and some of these stories were almost as varied and far-fetched as the ones told about the actual Jim Thompson.

After paying a visit to a couple of spots he usually frequents, we eventually caught up with Ng, taking a nap inside his taxi on the main street of Tanah Rata. However, when we approached him to ask about Jim Thompson, Ng refused point blank to comment on the subject. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore,” he said, waving his hands dismissively. “So many people come and disturb me about that Jim Thompson… and I don’t even know where he went!”

After a bit of prodding, however, he reluctantly let slip a few comments about his experience that day, though it took a bit of digging (in Alias’ library, to be exact) to find out more. We eventually found an article in a local Bahasa Malaysia magazine dating back seven years, where Ng had recounted how he was sitting at the Tanah Rata taxi stand minding his own business when a convoy of military and police vehicles trundled through the town. Some of the vehicles had Thai licence plates, others were carrying groups of Caucasian military officers. After asking around, he found that the mat sallehhe often ferries around in his taxi had gone missing in the jungle, and that there was a reward for anyone who could find him.

Later that afternoon, Ng decided to try for the reward and entered the jungle with a group of friends to look for Thompson. Unfortunately, Ng was separated from his friends, got hopelessly lost, and ended up wandering around the forest for two days before being found by search parties. Since that incident, he’s been saddled with the name “Thompson”, something he seemed quite perplexed about even to this day.

“I wasn’t the only one who went in looking for him that day, but I don’t know why I was the only one who got called Thompson!” he grunted.

OK, so we have the evidence, if DNA tests confirm it, leading to the conclusion that Jim Thompson died of some misadventure whilst on his walk on the winding hill road that’s barely wide enough for one car. A possible hit and run accident.
Then we have a local taxi driver who appeared to be Jim Thompson’s usual taxi driver disappearing for a few days “in the jungle”.
If the bones were Jim Thompson’s, then did someone spend some time to dig a shallow grave or move the corpse when everyone came to look for him, so that Jim’s body wouldn’t be discovered?


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One Comment
  1. I have written a major report on the Thompson disappearance, from a scientific search and rescue perspective; this has never been done before. The report includes 105 pages of scientific analysis and over 500 pages containing all the FBI, CIA, OSS, US DoS and other primary source documents I was able to locate on the case This is the only such compilation in the world. The report is available for download for free in pdf form on my website at:

    Cheers and good hunting,

    Lew Toulmin, Ph,D.
    Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society
    Co-Founder, Missing Aircraft Search Team
    Former Chair, Section on Emergency Management, American Society for Public Administration
    Member National, The Explorers Club

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