KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian "can do" spirit has led to about 20 records being made daily.
Some are so hell-bent on getting their names into the Malaysia Book of Records (MBOR) that it bordered on the absurd.
One guy actually wanted to get his name in for having the longest chest hair in the country.
"He had one exceptionally long chest hair which was 42cm. He was dead serious when he came to see us and said we have to certify it as soon as possible because it might break anytime," said MBOR chief operating officer Chistopher Wong.
Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox
"He told us he has to sleep in a certain way, wash himself a particular way so that it won't break," added Wong, who is still amused by it.
Wong acknowledged that there was an entry in the Guinness World Records where the record holder had 37cm chest hair "so the guy who came to us actually beat the world record".
But MBOR told the guy: "No, sorry."
"Although we are modelled after the Guinness World Records, we have to adjust to local sensitivities and flavour. We don't want to make it too gimmicky.
"What we are trying to do is not to recognise weird achievements but inspire Malaysians to do real things. We want to promote the spirit of human excellence and make the nation proud. And that longest chest hair doesn't cut it."
MBOR was started in July 1995 by Danny Ooi when he saw "mini achievements" in the country going unrecognised.
He felt that putting these feats down in a book of records would inspire others to go out and achieve something of their own.
In the past 22 years, MBOR has certified 5,664 records ranging from human triumphs and sports to arts, music, entertainment, food and business.
They were incredible, inspiring and challenging achievements. There were also the unusual ones, with some even bordering on "what on earth...!"
The first record certified by MBOR is of rocker Ella on Sept 19, 1995, for having the best-selling Malay album in the country.
As the keeper of Malaysian records, Wong said MBOR gets an average of about 20 to 30 e-mail requests and phone calls each day.
This totals up to about 400 a month but MBOR only certifies about 20 records or so each month.
"What people don't see is that a large percentage gets rejected.
"Last year, we had many record attempts - about 35 to 40 a month - so there was a lot of visibility.
"And people started saying we are simply giving records for everything.
"They questioned why 'this also got record' and 'that also got record' and asked if we were selling records. And they asked 'what is the point of some of these achievements?'"
So MBOR decided to cut back, keep the number low with a quota of 20 a month, to maintain the quality.
"We don't want the Malaysia Book of Records brand to overheat and for people to think 'aiyah, so easy to get a record. Any Tom, Dick and Harry can get it'.
"They'd be surprised to know that we reject about 80 per cent of requests for records.
"We don't deny credible record attempts but believe me, there are a lot of weird or syiok sendiri requests coming in."
As the only national record keeper, Wong said MBOR was in a unique position to change people's lives by its recognition.
"We try to be as professional as we can.
"We want to promote the spirit of Malaysia Boleh and 1Malaysia which drives the point that Malaysians can do things that can be recognised on the international stage.
"After 22 years we are still credible. We do not want MBOR to be relegated to ridicule or gimmick."