Kampua Talk: The Infamous KIASU

Kampua Talk

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Infamous KIASU

Definition: afraid to lose out (Hokkien)
No word in any dictionary, be it Oxford or self-made, is considered more Singaporean than kiasu. Why Singapore? Well, there is no better way to describe the infamous Singaporean trait of not wanting to be second to anyone in anything and everything. Somehow, somewhat the smoke of kiasuism has swept into the land of Malaysia like haze! And like haze, they are everywhere, every corner, even in the lubang cacing and no vaccine whatsoever or rain could make it disappear.
The original kiasu connotation is negative and its usage derogatory. Anyone seen to be kiasu invited contempt and derision.
A kiasu can be spotted miles away at a buffet lunch, piling his/her plate high with food only part of which he/she is likely to consume. This has prompted many restaurants offering eat-all-you-can fare to warn its patrons that they will be charged for food left behind on their plates. A reputable restaurant in a five-star hotel had to withdraw its offer of unlimited orders of any dish from its menu for a flat price, after too many kiasu families ordered nothing but abalone, dish after dish. To get their money's worth what!
Mr or Miss Kiasu always rushes to be at the head of a queue for anything ranging from free gifts to buying an apartment costing several hundred thousand dollars. He/She rushes into the lift before the passengers inside can even step out. You might say it has to do with our pace of life but, hey, some people just cannot wait lah!
In another word, kiasu people are selfish. He/She always takes more than he/she needs, even if it means wasting it or depriving others of it. He/She is inconsiderate. He/She is greedy. And he/she is definitely obnoxious! No wonder some people are offended by any suggestion that kiasuism is an official trait. It is an ugly tag!
Some other people reserve a good word for kiasuism. Because of his/her nature, the kiasu person will always get what he/she wants. And he/she will do a darn bloody good job and excel because he/she always wants to win! And who say it is a sin to want to win?
Some think that being kiasi is better than being kiasu because if a person dies, he/she is wiped off the face of the earth, whereas if he loses, he may still return and win. Kiasi means afraid to die.
A kiasi person is not a fool who rushes in where angels fear to tread. In business he/she will not want to risk taking on new ventures. He/She plays safe. People sneer at his/her timidity and call it cowardice. But maybe he/she is smart. In a precarious world the slow and cautious have a better chance of surviving the rat race that destroys prematurely too many of the bold and enthusiastic.
A Korean restaurant in Penang's Gurney Plaza offered Korean BBQ Buffet-style where you get to choose the raw food you wanted, as much as you like. But you'll be charged RM5 per 100g of food left on your plate! Being a kiasu as well as a kiasi, taking mountain-high pile of food and ended up could not finish them, a lot of smart fellow actually do what he/she has to do. With Mr. Bean leading as example, they tend to diversify the food and tried to hide the leftovers under the plates, inside the soup, under the glass, inside the drinks, wrap them in the napkins provided, etc. Smart, eh?
Well, kiasu and kiasi cannot be separated like oil and water. Instead, they are like brothers, or rather, conjoined. Haha!!! We, Malaysians, have them running in our blood as we have learnt at an early age to quickly seize opportunities as they arose. No amount of classroom teaching can provide the invaluable lesson of a real life experience!



Blogger clement said...

this is funny, i am partially kiasu, esp when some arsehole getting better result than me

3:53 PM  

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