Friday, October 31, 2014

Who is 'kiasu'?

Remember my letter to Malaysiakini about Dr Ridhuan Tee Abdullah being ironically the ultimate ‘ultra kiasu’.

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'.


  1. The old man Mamakutty has now develop dementia and his wires up there are now all crossed and messed up.

    It could be he is paranoid when his pampers are not changed frequently.

    About that RT guy, because of his ultra everything including ultra kiasuness, do you know how many women he has to show his ultra kiasuness?

    I bet he will damn well outperform everybody to show he is a King of Ultra kiasu. All the garbage is coming to haunt him back soon.


  2. Just like Ridhuan Tee, I am a Chinese Muslim covert. Unlike Ridhuan, I am from Singapore. Unlike him, I do not try to be a Malay as I know my root.
    I have read a lot of comments by Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, and I mostly shake my head in disbelieve.
    His usage of the term "kiasu" to describe Chinese is totally out of context. We Singaporean Chinese use the term in competition for success or achievement against fellow Chinese who are also successful in many fields or enterprises. We do not use it to pit the Chinese against the Malays or any other race. All are welcome to compete regardless of race or religion. No NEP at all.
    To be Kiasu is good for everyone, not only for one race which Ridhuan so disliked. Kiasu = success. Don't anyone or any race wants to be better than others?. Take it as a complement to be called a Kiasu as it is a good and essential ingredient for success. Disregard this Ridhuan who wrongly used this term with degrading intention. Didn't the AGC say that the context in which a word or a statement is made determines whether there is a seditious intention? What say you? Is it seditious or not, the intention of Ridhuan while referring to others as Ultra-Kiasu, alas, believing that it is a degrading word.

    We Singaporean Chinese only laugh out loud when our friends call us Kiasu. No Malay(not imitation Malay) really, should call another race Kiasu as it is a jihad to be successful in all aspect of a Muslim life. Mocking the success of another race is admitting to the failure one's own race.

    I wonder what will happen if one day this scholarly guy is made an Ulama and starts issuing fatwas.

  3. Our dear KT said:

    (i) “It seems the Chinese (Sings, HK-ies and Penangites) are 'kiasu' - maybe Dr Ridhuan has a point there...”

    (ii) “Maybe the Malays too are 'kiasu'.”

    (iii) “And I have an unpleasant personal experience that tells me the Indians too are 'kiasu'.”

    And, Teo Akbar 2.56 said:

    “Kiasu = success. Don't anyone or any race wants to be better than others? Take it as a complement to be called a Kiasu as it is a good and essential ingredient for success.”

    Then, KT’s tagline: “Keep Calm Keep Kiasu On”. Wakakaka…

    Mind you, the above are not easy platitudes indeed. I have given the above a careful thought: Not only that they have got a point there but they may even be right after all.

    All of us are equally partial and kiasu, never objective, and long overdue for an examination of our own bona fide motivations and purposes. Wakakaka…

    - hasan

    1. goes to show we're all Malaysians, where we should stress on our similarities and common grounds rather than our differences.- we'll then go on to beat that lil' red dot, maybe in 10 years time, maybe in 15, maybe in 20, but we can beat them economically, socially, culturally.and with our superior compassion

    2. Touché…

      - hasan

    3. we cant beat singaporean in almost every field.....logical mind, business mind, technical know how, language fluency...the only thing i see is we might be happier and less stressful, only mighe be.

      i dun see problem with diff, this is actually our most treasure heritage n strengt2h. the issue is some of us look down on other people, cultuarally or skin color, and some believe that everyone must follow their way of life. they despise communist but they act like one. btw, to label others as kiasu imply u recognise the fact that u r behind or already a loser.

      helen writes become more n more incline toward the right, lately i cant even feel her compassion toward the indian n poor anymore like in the past. not sure what happen to her, i think she need to visit some kind of doctor. kt n petra shd consider doing the same. wakaka

    4. ok HY, book a room for me at Tanjung Rambutan, wakakaka

    5. 'we cant beat singaporean in almost every field.....logical mind, business mind, technical know how, language fluency...the only thing i see is we might be happier and less stressful, only mighe be.'

      Hmm...very superficial....

      Didnt u know that almost 7 out of 10 S'porean officialdom r M'sian in origin?

      The superiority of the S'pore Maru is built by these officialdom, to whom their home country treats as dirt!

      Just imagine IFF these people would return & serve - against the dying cry of the ketuanan freaks, M'sia CAN then challenge anything that the Red-dot &/or HK & Taiwan thrown at us.

      However, many of them have given up hope of ever return. There r still some die-hards, hoping against hope that they can return under a more liberal regime. These r the people who r still keeping their M'sian passport despite the many years in the Red-dot.

      Incidentally, judging from the way S'wak is been moving, ever since the 'retirement' of the Pa'mo, most of them, that's native to S'wak, would trickle back to the land of the hornbill.

      If Adenan Satem could stick around long enough (he is rumoured to have cancer), S'wak WOULD be the game changer for the next path that M'sia SHOULD follow!

    6. To beat the lil red dot, the 1st pre-condition must be an equal and level playing field for all regardless of race and religion; no NEP.

      The 2nd condition is to have a low corruption rate in the country, though impossible to achieve zero corruption; political will needed.

      The 3rd requisite is to par with a country much stronger and successful than Malaysia. Malaysia should not par with Singapore if Singapore is paring with Australia? Malaysian should learn from a stronger country than Singapore and Australia, like say UK. You want not only to catch up, but to beat Singapore.
      Malaysians regardless of race or religion must learn to be more Kiasu than Penangites and Singporeans if you want to overtake Singapore's achievement.
      Kiasu is good. Buy insurance=Kiasu or kiasi. 4 Muslim male witnesses in certain Huddud trial is 4 x Kiasu (first 3 not enough).
      All lawyers and prosecutors are Ultra-Kiasu. Just look at who they hire to represent Anwar and Gani. Kiasu Vs Kiasu.

      But none is more Kiasu than that MR. TEE who would even trade his Chinese root for a Malay tan for his career advancement. History tells us such are the kind who would willingly deliver his masters into certain death in return for mere 30 coins.

    7. (1) I've no problem with NEP provided it's directed on a "need" basis, which would then exclude all ministers' and senior civil servants' children and families of rich UMNO tycoons, while including the Indians, Aborigines and East Malaysian natives

      (2) agreed.

      (3) why Mat Salleh only? Why not Japan, Korea, Taiwan, HK? HK has been listed as among the top 10 places in the world where its citizens are lucky to be born there. Korea is dominating the technological market in phones, electronics, cars, trucks and ships, Japan needs no introduction, and Taiwan is doing well with its HTC phones, mouse and other computer-related bits and pieces.

    8. KT,
      1). NEP will not be NEP if it is color blind and based on needs alone. This in name is to help the needy of one race, but in reality only helps the selected undeserving elites. To be a Malaysian Malaysian, NEP must go. Social welfare department should suffice for helping the needy.

      3). Mat Salleh counties were mentioned as example only. Look West or look East as you please, as long as your running mate is stronger than your competitor. There are developing countries and there are developed countries. The idea is to learn from a developed country in order to race past a developing country.

      Alas, but most Malays have been too comfortable and laid back to be interested to work too hard towards a developed nation status. NEP is addictive. If you feed a tiger cub well every day, it will never learn to hunt for food in the wild on its own.

    9. but anon 433, yr imagine if is not superficial? pretty diffficult to debate "what if" la. i have many spore colleague, i notice their decision making process is very rationalised in nature. race, compassion and relationship rarely come into play. and i oso notice they are trained to understand issue from own reading, very independent mind. my point is, i dun see how we can beat that litttle red tot in mercantile, commercial and business in the short term, so kt is talking kok.

    10. "why Mat Salleh only? Why not Japan, Korea, Taiwan, HK?"

      i think to emulate mat salleh suit us better. east asia countries only approach is to work hard, very very hard. and no welfare system ie to compete in term of everything, see how many hours japanese n korean work a day? n how many job hongkonger and taiwanese work at one time? we love the british way more.

    11. Alamak, for someone who likes to call others "half armoh' your mentality is really ahmor, wakakaka

  4. Ahhh ... one of the periodic homages to the Muppet....

    ...and with the drawing of hopefuls trying to tackle Penelope too ...

  5. how bout 'kiasi', takut mati or tak mau mati?

    1. well, as I have written, kia-chenghu (takut kerajaan) and kia-bor (takut isteri) wakakaka are both kiasi-ness

      I wonder who's kia-bor, wakakaka

    2. MR. TEE is kiabor, that's why he convert his religion plus race to that of his wife.

    3. Kiasi describes people who escape to A foreign country when being charged in a Malaysian court or persecuted. Perhaps RPK qualify for:
      Kiasi - fled.
      Kiasu - always must win.
      Kiachenghu - Gani & co.
      Kiabor - only one wife when his quota is 4.
      Kiaborchu and the rest are offset by his Gossip Kopitiam successes. A true success story amongst those who fled, unlike PI Bala.

    4. i thought kiasi has its own meaning (stands by itself which is one of the 'five'). anyway who's kia-bor? minta maaf, tidak ada hadiah untuk jawapan yg tepat.

    5. heard Ah Jib Gor kia-bor, wakakaka

  6. Kiasu's like 'Ah Tee' are ones who are fuckingly ashamed of their own race or family background.These are people who should bury their fucking faces into the sand,like ostriches.Of course my apologies to the ostriches for associating them with kiasus like 'Ah Tee'.


    call my dogs bitches and when they see you,they might try to have a bite at your balls.Then you might need to borrow the monster's 'MONSTER BALLS'.Hehe.

    1. I say, don't be so sensitive la. The monster has left the building ley. Hehehe.

  7. Teo Akbar,

    You said at 6.16pm: "MR. TEE is kiabor, that's why he convert his religion plus race to that of his wife".

    And you also said earlier at 2.56am : "Just like Ridhuan Tee, I am a Chinese Muslim covert."

    My conclusion is, as you have followed the religion of your wife but not her race, you must be kiabor by half lah, eh? Wakakaka...

    - hasan

    1. Because I did not convert my race, I should be Kia-chenghu to obey the law on Muslim marriages. Half kiabor is good. It shows mutual respect for each other. LOL.