What is to be Kiasu?

Hi tourists,

How’s it going? I was thinking about some unique traits that Singapore have, and I thought of Kiasuism and Kiasism (a story for another blog post)

What is Kiasuism exactly? It actually stems from a Chinese dialect, kiasu (say KEE-AH-SU),  which means a fear of losing.

In fact, it can been said that Kiasuism is the backbone of Singapore culture. It is such a hardwired trait in our denizens here that it even inspired a comic book, with the protagonist Mr Kiasu, Kiasuism personified! His hobbies include eating lots at buffets, and getting the best deals he can!

Singapore Mr Kiasu

So what is it ? Examples of Kiasu behavior include loading up the plates during a buffet for fear that there is not enough food, rushing to board the train for fear of a lack of space?, making one’s child go for numerous enrichment classes for fear of one’s child falling behind. This symptom is very humorously described in this blog post here by the Yummy Mummy, a Singaporean born mother with natural Kiasu instincts who relocated to Australia.

Funny? Yes very much so. We Singaporeans are so afraid of losing out to our peers that we use much time and energy to make sure we don’t. And this is what has propelled us to become one of the top-performing nations in Asian, in spite of our puny size.

Stay tuned for a Kiasu joke in the next post

Your Singapore Guide


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