I used the adverb 'ironically' for his 'ultra kiasu-ness' because Dr Ridhuan, for a person who likes to call his political-social-cultural foes 'ultra kiasu', is himself an even bigger one, wakakaka - read my letter to Malaysiakini to know why I called him so.
Incidentally, one of his 'ultra kiasu' victims had been a sweetie who was my erstwhile dahleeeng, wakakaka, though I am not sure about that now as they're currently on the same side of the political fence.
'Kiasu' is a Chinese-Hokkien word which literally means 'afraid to lose or of losing' or figuratively 'don't want to lose (ever)', or in Bahasa 'takut kalah' or more correctly '(langsung) ta'mahu kalah', wakakaka.
In Penang Hokkien, it's actually pronounced with a slight nasal sound, thus should/would be better written as 'kniasu'. But in this post I'll stick to its more common romanized form, that is, 'kiasu' without the nasal indication.
Though I like to claim our awareness of this word came about as a result of Penang or Penangites' doing (usage), I have to grudgingly concede its popularity or notoriety might well have come from Sing usage, even though Penangites have been using it for eons but admittedly not in the socio-politico-economic context that Sings have in their notorious 5 'kiasu', namely (as I vaguely remember):
- kia-boe-lui (takut ta'ada wang)
- kia-boe-ch'u (takut ta'ada rumah)
- kia-boe-been (takut malu)
- kia-chenghu (takut kerajaan) wakakaka
- kia-bor (takut isteri) wakakaka
The last two can also be re-termed as 'kiasi' (takut mati, wakakaka) rather than 'kiasu'.
Wikipeida confirms the Sing connection by saying Kiasu (驚輸) is a Hokkien and Singlish word that means a grasping, selfish attitude. Its meaning is comparable to the English idiom "dog in a manger".
I'm not so sure of that interpretation or figurative translation (from a Sing source?), nor would I agree to its equivalency to the English idiom "dog in a manger".
I would say its further explanation that It is often used to refer to anxious, selfish behaviour characterised by a fear of missing out is nearer to the mark, but only if missing out means losing ('face', argument, status, etc).
Of course I am talking from a Penang point of view - Sing might have developed a completely different slant on that word.
But I'd agree Kiasu or Kiasu-ism means to take extreme measures to achieve success a la ta'mahu kalah, wakakaka.
And incidentally it's the last (ta'mahu kalah) that Sings have been and are notorious for, to wit, taking extreme measures to achieve success, an attitude not dissimilar to those held by Hong Kongers.
It seems the Chinese (Sings, HK-ies and Penangites) are 'kiasu' - maybe Dr Ridhuan has a point there, but he still has to include himself as an 'ultra kiasu' even he keeps reminding us in regular 'kiasu-ness' he is a Malay, wakakaka.
But wait, what about Dr Mahathir?
Hasn't his defence of indefensible Ibrahim Ali's threat to burn the bibles been an act of 'kiasu-ness'?
How could Dr M compare Ibrahim Ali's threat to burn the sacred book of another religion to Muslims burning old unwanted or unusable Quran so as to prevent inadvertent defilement or accidental desecration of Islam's most Holy Book?
Does that mean Christians can now threaten to burn the Quran, and then claim that supposed threat would be equivalent to a church burning old and torn or unusable Bibles, and escape questioning/prosecution by the law for sedition?
Maybe the Malays too are 'kiasu'.
And I have an unpleasant personal experience that tells me the Indians too are 'kiasu'.