Kiasu-ism - a Singaporean culture?
Edward B. Tyler defines culture as “the complex whole which includes … and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man (and woman) as a member of society”. In this sense, I think Kiasu-ism can be defined as a Singaporean culture.
“Kiasu” is a word, though commonly used in many Asian countries, applies most to the Singaporean context and, often, one of the first few words that foreigners pick up in Singapore. It is not surprising that it has now been added to the oxford dictionary as an English word.
In a recent survey conducted by advantage and British-based Barrett Values Centre, 2000 local residents were polled to see how they perceive the ...view middle of the document...
It is not surprising that Singaporean parents spend around $6000 on enrichment classes. Technology has also helped foster Kiasu-ism among parents with kiasuparents.com, a platform for ‘concerned’ parents to ask questions regarding parenting and education in Singapore, which also provides another means for parents to keep track of their children’s potential rivals and understand how to outperform them.
The Kiasu mentality has also introduced queuing, for practically anything in Singapore, be it for a freebie, discounted goods or simply good food. The longer the queue, the better the quality of the product or service; so a typical Kiasu Singaporean is likely to choose a restaurant with a long queue, even when another in the vicinity has plenty of available seating.
Another prevailing aspect of Kiasu-ism in eateries and hawker centres is the concept of ‘chope-ing’, where people use tissue packets, umbrellas or other items to reserve seats before they go off to buy their food(Yeoh, 2011). The concept of chope-ing is widely accepted, particularly in the Central Business District (CBD) areas during lunchtime, where it is common in eateries to see seats with tissue packets. This practice is understandable in situations when a person goes for lunch alone and does not want to be left standing with the plate of food he had bought; however, one would struggle to understand the logic in situations when people go for lunch in a group, when it is possible for one person to sit at the table while the others get their lunch. Chope-ing, though uniquely Singaporean, might have its roots from the conservative Asian culture that does not enjoy speaking up. With chope-ing, there is less of a need to ask a complete stranger if you can share his table; instead one is able to reserve his seat prior to buying his food. As a result, you can even argue that chope-ing has reduced social cohesion as the likelihood of sitting next to a stranger and striking up a conversation is greatly reduced.
Kiasu-ism, though may be frowned upon by many societies, makes Singaporeans unique. Kiasu-ism enables us, as a society, to reach greater heights as we try to outperform one...