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Friday, June 18, 1999 Published at 18:38 GMT 19:38 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Is this the world's oldest man?

Omar Abas (centre) meets Malaysia's health minister

A Malaysian man who says he is 141 years old has laid claim to the title of the world's oldest person.

Omar Abas, who says he was born on 26 September 1857, won the title of Malaysia's oldest person four years ago.

His claim may be difficult to verify - his age has been confirmed by the Malaysian Book of Records, but he has no birth certificate as they were not issued to Malaysians before 1926.

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However, the registration department where he lives has also verified his birth date.

If his claim is accurate, it makes him 23 years older than the current title-holder, Sarah Knauss of Pennsylvania, USA.

The Guinness Book of Records currently lists her as the world's oldest living person at the age of 118.

It also makes him 100 years older than his own country.

A spokeswoman for the Guinness Book of Records said Mr Abas would normally need a birth certificate to prove his age, but his claim would be researched if he provided as much documentary evidence as possible.

A simple life

Mr Abas has the support of his country's health minister, Chua Jui Meng, who presented him with saving bonds worth more than $2,000 and a first-class service medical card at Malaysia's World Health Day celebrations this week.

Mr Abas says the secret of long life is simple living, moderate exercise and a careful diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables.

He married in his late 60s and is still living with his wife, Minah, who is said to be aged 100.

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