Bids to set records go into overdrive

Bids to set records go into overdrive
An entry for the largest Singapore map made using ribbon ketupat, measuring 4m by 2.5m, on display at the closing ceremony of the Bazar Raya Utara in Woodlands yesterday. Groups such as schools and grassroots events organisers are marking National Day by trying to get into the Singapore Book of Records.

Singapore's growing obsession with records - from creating the largest chocolate flag to forming the longest line of people holding handmade cards - is about to reach overdrive.

In recent years, the month of August has become the de facto "records" month as schools, community centres and organisers of grassroots events try to mark National Day by creating a slice of history.

The Singapore Book of Records, a non-profit organisation which approves every record-breaking attempt here, has already received 30 bookings for next month. This is twice the average number of bookings the organisation gets, said its president Ong Eng Huat.

The People's Association grassroots organisations have organised more than 200 community events, starting in May and going on until next month. Some of these events will include attempts to set records.

On Friday, the Changi-Simei Community Club's Youth Executive Club Committee will hope to set several records - for uploading the most number of photographs on Instagram within two hours; forming the largest National Day Parade logo made of thumb prints; and creating the largest Singapore flag using about 1,200 coasters.

And with Singapore preparing to celebrate its 50th birthday next year, Mr Ong said he expects record attempts to hit a new high.

"We're anticipating more records during the the country's jubilee year next year," said Mr Ong. "It would probably be the most in Singapore's history."

There have already been 140 records set so far this year. Mr Ong said he expects it to reach 190 by the end of the year.

This would be an increase from last year's 170 records. When the organisation, which is staffed by a committee of five members and another 10 ad hoc volunteers, began collecting records in 2005, there were 45 records set that year.

The feats come in all shapes and sizes. About two weeks ago, more than 200 kids set a record at a mass reading session for the "most number of children reading with an adult".

And at a Hari Raya bazaar in Tampines earlier this month, a 120-strong contingent set a record for the most number of people playing the kompang, a Malay hand drum.

Some of the more popular picks involve creating the biggest Singapore map or flag using different items - from plastic bags and straws to ping pong balls and cupcakes.

But does the superficial nature of some of these attempts take away from the value of a national record? Mr Ong, a 56-year-old book and magazine publisher, said quite a few of these attempts are simply for "fun". "They make events more memorable," he added.

But there are rules involved. About one in three applications his organisation gets is turned down, said Mr Ong, as they are not within the guidelines, and may be too specific.

For instance, the largest ice sculpture of a horse would be too narrow a category but the largest ice sculpture would qualify. Exceptions are made for the national flag and map because of their popularity.

Of the 1,200 national records set here so far, 105 have made it to The Guinness Book of Records.

Among them is a record for the largest game of musical chairs, with 8,238 participants, which was set by Anglo-Chinese School in August 1989.

Today, about 500 Kim Tian residents will attempt to create the largest national pledge display made of recyclable items, using 3,421 bottle caps to form more than 50 Chinese characters.

Madam Chow Hoy Fong, 46, a member of the Kim Tian West Residents' Committee, said: "Every year we think of new ways to display something related to National Day. It is a way of encouraging as many families as possible to contribute and come together. Setting records is just a 'by-the-way' thing."

This article was first published on July 27 2014.
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