Monday, February 20, 2006

Attack of the Kiasu

I've been living here in Singapore for about 5 months now and as a child my parents would bring me here once in a while for a few days holiday so I'm not unfamiliar with Singapore or the people who live in it.

I'm also quite familiar with the term Kiasu as kids we had Mr Kiasu comics and Phua Chu Kang on satellite television. This is what Wikipedia has to say, but in short-Kiasu is used to describe a person who has a fear of losing or is overly competitive. The former description furthering the intensity of the latter in most cases.

Prepared with my Oxford Dictionary description of a Kiasu and my copies of Mr Kiasu tucked under my arm I was sure I was ready to tackle any one who came my way. If you're going to shove me aside to get to the buffet table I'm a step ahead of you pal- I've gone a la carte.

How wrong was I? How wrong was I to think that the term Kiasu was used to describe a person for a Kiasu is more of a cross from a sub-species of cave person incapable of civilised social conduct and pre-historic animal with vocal abilities that of a fried mammoth.

Wikipedia has it all wrong kiddos so I'm tellin' you like it is. Now here's my bone to pick with 80% of Singaporeans-you are ALL Kiasus. Yup. I said it- so sue me. Though I'm sure you're going to pick the cheapest lawyer you can get even if they got their degree in MickeyMouseUniversity of Shitesville. Then not pay him.

A Kiasu is the person who in the MRT station pushes you aside just before getting on the escalator only to stand on the right side. There are signs that say 'please stand on the left'! Now these signs aren't put there by the public transport board just so that the fag end that you threw back down the escalator doesn't end up on the floor. They are put there so that if you wish to ride the escalator and aren't in a great deal of a rush then the people who need to get to their destinations can walk up unobstructed. Simple huh?

Geez, that ain't so bad you say. Try rushing to work and have someone do that to you? Wait wait - more like have a dozen people do that.

The Kiasu is also the same person who stands in front of the train doors are you are trying to get off at the station. They will pretend not to see you as you are bowled over cartoon stylee then skittle across the MRT floor. No they won't see that you've got your weeks shopping and all your eggs have broken into a shmoosh on the floor right next to your drycleaning. In fact they won't even pretend to help you to your feet as the doors close in on you and you are kicked aside onto the platform only to be trampled further by the stampede of Kiasu rushing to the next All You Can Eat.

Don't mistake the Kiasu with the tourist who doesn't know what the hell is going on. The Tourist will happily chew on their curry puff in the middle of the station unaware of the signs claiming to fine you $1000 should they catch you curry handed. The Kiasu will be the one taking sneaky bites as he dives into his volumous plastic bag full of half priced chicken wings.

But the habitat of the Kiasu extends outside the MRT stations. While the MRT stations remain solely Kiasu territory it is not uncommon that they leave their comfort zones and venture to the surface to meet with the rest of the unsuspecting public.

This weekend I came face to face with one of the worst Kiasu types. The Kiasu Mum. I shudder to think what might have happened should I have incurred the full wrath of one such creature. Kyle and I were waiting for the lift to get to the cinema when Kiasu Mum came along with her two little minions. The sequence of events which followed are:

1. Pushed others waiting for lift aside while leaving son behind to finish his ice cream.
2. As soon as door opened scream for son (lets call him Calvin eh?) 'CALVIIIIIIIN!hurry up come here right NOW!!!!!' -no exaggeration there I promise.
3. Boy comes a bounding like a baby elephant on morphine. Note-young hyperactive boy in tropics=sweaty sweaty brat.
4. I get elbowed in the chest and get forced away from the lift so take the next one up. Grrr..tell self: its okay he's just a kid.
5. Get upstairs to the box office- woah loads of people in the ques. So Kyle and I join the smallest looking que and what do we see? Kiasu mum in line #1. Minion no.1 in one line then our pal Calvin in another. Aren't they going to see the same film?
6. Calvin gets to the front of his que and Kiasu mum followed closely by little one hash through the ques like she was getting out of the primary jungles of Borneo.
7. Upon getting to the front of the ticket que Kiasu Mum tells Calvin to go and que for the snacks..

Its like watching a war lord in the battlefield. "Take your positions!! ATTACK!! DISPATCH!!"

The courting activities of the Kiasu kind I have not yet come into personal contact with but upon distant observation I have come to the conclusion that it is normal practice for a Kiasu to be a patron to one or two 'pubs' (note: in Singapore a bar is commonly referred to as a pub) which he/she will rush to get to after work to make Happy Hour, get blind drunk on 2-4-1s then hope for the best.

Physical appearance is often ignored by your regular Kiasu and so not easily distinguishable in a crowd until you raise a sign for free t-shirts, they'll be the first ones to trample the rest. So please be aware and always alert- they are among us.

Singapore Idol has swept Singapore off its feet and the adverts play at regular intervals on TV. Quick interviews are often shown and this is a perfect example of Kiasuesque behavior:

A teenage boy is being interviewed outside Cineleisure where the Singapore Idol auditions were going to be held the next day
Interviewer: Can you sing?
Teenboy: Ya lah.
Interviewer: Will you be participating in the auditions then?
Teenboy: No lah waste of time. Maybe I join if got free t-shirt.

If they were handing out free shirts at SIdol then I think the whole Kiasu population would be there!

Kiasu (K-5) is sweeping SouthEastAsia faster than Avian flu and common symptoms in Bruneians are already being noted by the authorities. Outside their optimum surroundings i.e MRTs and lifts the Bruneian strand of the Kiasu virus (O-K-boss) includes tell-tale signs of Kiasu-ism seen most commonly at weddings and official functions.

You have been warned. Over and Out. xxw


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