Arduous Journey of Malaysia Book of Records

The official record keeper of the country, Malaysia Book of Records (MBR), celebrates its 20th year anniversary this July (2015). It is quite an achievement for this non-profit entity considering that from zero record when it was first launched, it now has more than four thousand records over eleven different categories, from Human Achievements to Human Beings, Human World, Business World and Nature, just to name a few.

It was a long and arduous road for founder Tan Sri Datuk Danny Ooi. Although the idea for a national Book of Records came to him in 1989, it was only officially launched six years later (1995).

Despite having the then Information Minister, Tan Sri Mohamed bin Rahmat as the guest-of-honour, it was, in Danny’s own words, the beginning of a nightmare.

With the success of MBR today, being the household name that it is, one could hardly imagine the difficulties faced by Danny, until as recently as two years ago.

2013 - First Solo Flight Around The World by Captain James Anthony Tan (R) (photo courtesy of Malaysia Book of Records)
2013 – First Solo Flight Around The World by Captain James Anthony Tan (R) (photo courtesy of Malaysia Book of Records)

He said, “Within the first year and a half, we wiped off our capital of RM800,000. I had two partners who supported my endeavours but they called it quits in the face of mounting debts. The first three years was the toughest as we had no income at all, and this was the case until the production of the first edition of MBR in 1998, where 1200 records were compiled.

“It was only in 2013, after 18 years, that I would deem MBR a success. Why did I persevere? I had seen the need for a book that would contain Malaysian testimonials and be a local point of reference.

“Many Malaysians have tried to make their way into the Guinness Book of World Records but how many have been successful? Out of the many in our records, some twenty are of world standard.

“I see MBR as a nation building project; a noble service to the country that complements the government’s aspirations of instilling the spirit of excellence among Malaysians.

“The challenges and struggles that I faced and overcame to maintain MBR until now were definitely worthwhile.”

Today, MBR has successfully printed nine editions of the biennial publication, produced more than 300 episodes of its weekly television series and hosted 7 MBR award galas.

Moving forward, Danny’s final dream for the MBR brand would be a “Museum of Achievers” which will hopefully see light by the end of 2016.

As for now, to mark the momentous occasion of MBR’s 20th anniversary, a grand celebration has been planned for August 15 (2015) at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur where the Prime Minister of Malaysia will be invited to the memorable event and witness the gathering of the largest number of record holders and achievers in the country.

A special edition coffee table book with the title ‘MBR Road to Excellence’ will also be published to commemorate this milestone.

Danny, who doesn’t hold any record himself, as in principle, MBR will not endorse any record set by its founder, if any, isn’t resting on his laurels. He shared, “We hope that MBR will be able to set up the MBR Foundation which will financially assist aspirants who wish to set a record for the country. This will further encourage more record-breaking activities in the country.”

As for those who scoff at the numerous “achievements” on MBR that required no particular skill or talent, Danny has this to say to them. “People think that record-breaking is easy and therefore, I always challenge those who have this mindset to break an MBR record themselves to see if it is as easy as it seems. As they say, action speaks louder than words.

“The trials and tribulations of establishing MBR, where I was on the brink of bankruptcy at one time, prompted me to write my book, ‘Dare to Dream’. It gives readers the message that nothing is impossible and that they should never give up. Business friends had encouraged me to give up my MBR project thinking that it would never be successful. If I had listened to them, there would never be MBR.”

To Danny, there is never a record too ridiculous as all achievements are endorsed by MBR and are carefully discussed by the research team before they are considered as a record.

Biggest, smallest, shortest, longest, lightest, heaviest, hardest, richest, loudest, highest, fattest, thinnest, youngest, oldest, widest, loudest, strongest, and just about any extreme that one could think of. Who else is ready to strive for excellence?

Note: An edited version of this article [Record Keeper’s Arduous Journey] was published on 28th March, 2015, in the now-defunct The Malay Mail.

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With love

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