The Dandelions

.. the mutual admiration and bashing society.

Kiasu-ism…..It’s a Dog-Eat-Dog World Baby!!!

Posted by ErnieJean on January 15, 2009

Questionaire 1

Hands up those of you who are familiar with one or all of the following situations :-

Situation No.1

 Parent A begrudges a classmate of her 8-year old daughter because the classmate was selected (instead of her daughter) to represent the school for some national level story telling competition.

She then instructed her child to not be friends with that classmate because she figured the classmate had lifted off some “good luck” or something like that from her daughter. 

Situation No.2

A dance teacher had to reschedule a dance class to 8pm on a weekday. All parents were fine with the time and day. Except for one particular Parent B. She insisted that the teacher have the replacement class at 8.15pm because her child had singing classes till 8pm and they would only be able to arrive at the dance school at 8.15pm.

It was totally out of the question that her child misses out on the 15 minutes.

Situation No.3

Parent C, on the first day of school, after identifying her child’s designated classroom, proceeds to “choop” (reserve) the best seat in the class (whatever that means…….but for sure, it’ll be right in front and near the teacher’s table) and bare fangs if someone else would even think about going near the reserved seat.

Situation No.4

Fellow classmates refusing to share notes with one another because their Kiasu-Parents told them not to, “…lest your classmate becomes cleverer than you”…………so woes to those who fall sick and had to miss class.

The above situation, by the way, are actual accounts….and we’re NOT talking about in the little red dot country down south…..these are parents from our very own backyard…..

Yes, they’re are our very own homegrown breed of Malaysian Kiasu Parents!!!! *scary slasher movie theme song playing in the background*

What exactly is Kiasuism?

Who are these Kiasu-Parents that the rest of us level-minded folks pull our hairs over?

I think Kiasuism is definitely more than wanting the best for yourself or your loved ones. After all, that’s only normal, to want to strife for the best that you can offer yourself or your child. But shouldn’t there be a limit as to how one tries to achieve it?

I would probably explain “Kiasuism” as wanting the best for oneself, to be a “winner” in every situation, DO OR DIE………AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS.

In situations like the above, the Kiasu-Parent would be known to throw all niceties and decencies to the wind, just so he/she or his/her loved one gets to be “Numero Uno“, regardless of how petty it is. Who gives a damn about the others………they can rot for all the Kiasu-Parent cares.

These are the shameless adults who would use all ways….intimidation, bullying and harrassments……to achieve their goals. Wanna bet? They would also be the very same folks you find hogging all the food at a buffet line, regardless of whether they can finish it or not, just grab first!!! And those who fall victims to these “monsters” are usually children or meeker adults. I suppose what they say about bullies are true……they’re closeted cowards.

And that is how a society will eventually evolve to become the uncaring, self-centred, selfish and apathetic one that we can all see emerging on Malaysian soil.

A friend reckons that the Kiasu-Parents are probably, and I quote him, “…..using their kids as proxy to achieve things they never able or have chance to learn and imposing their ‘perceived version of success’ as a yardstick for their kids.”.

To be honest, I pity their children. For one thing, it’s almost certain that children of these Kiasu-Parents are bogged down with tuitions and extra-curicular activities. Not that I have anything against that, for with our current school system, tuition is almost unavoidable….believe me, I’ve tried avoiding tuition for my own kid and failed……teachers are just not teaching. But, oh, to go overboard with tuition for just about everything under the sun, demands for homework, multiple workshops for mental enrichment programs and what-nots, is almost akin to robbing a child of his/her childhood.

Can we ever hope to eliminate this “Kiasu” mentality? Unfortunately, I very much doubt anything can be done, for it’s one of the many human weaknesses. As long as the person doesn’t recognise “kiasuism” as a weakness to be corrected, there’s just no way of correcting it, is there?

See the following quotes from some Kiasu-Parents, taken from

There’s nothing wrong with being ‘kiasu’. I think it’s a good thing being competitive. It’s a dog-eat-dog world we live in; nice guys finish last. So I teach my kids to always do their best so that they can be the best. – Mark Wong, businessman with 3 sons.

For me, being ‘kiasu’ gives me a competitive edge over others. The business world can be cut-throat, so you’d have to be hard-nosed to survive. If not, then you’ll get trampled on. My thinking  is, as long as I don’t do anything illegal to secure my “triumphs”, then anything goes. I see all these graduates in their first jobs, all innocent and naive.It’s as if their families did not prepare them for the real world. Now they’re struggling to stay ahead. – Thomas Chung, Real Estate Agent 

And can we really say “To hell with the kiasu adults…….cannot be salvaged” and try to work on their next generation? The children? Is it possible? For isn’t it always that the child grows up to be the product of his upbringing? 

Wishful thinking?????????



3 Responses to “Kiasu-ism…..It’s a Dog-Eat-Dog World Baby!!!”

  1. Lays said

    Kiasu-sm is a sign of the weak. If one truly believes that he/she is capable of doing anything, he/she wouldn’t need to be afraid of competition.

    It took China so long to open up to live up to its potential.

    It’s very sad to see how these kids are brought up in a screwed, self-insecure childhood.

    The world is flat, whoever that can’t embrace the openness of this flatness, will be left behind.

  2. peng said

    Kiasu parents torture their children with their ‘cannot lose’ attitude.

    Closer to home, in my family I have a typical kiasu sister. She is not satisfied when her son got 6As for PMR. She said could have a straight As result if the BM is not a B. I told her to go and sit for the exam herself and see how she will score. Cannot ‘tahan’ such attitude!

  3. orange said

    winning is just a word if one were to discount the process and effort put into earning it, no?

    in fact this whole winning thing could be rather subjective depending on how one looks at it.

    and the winners are;
    Parrot of the year (this applies to those who are champions in memorizing and regurgitating lessons)
    Top Bulldozer (pushing and shoving ahead with little respect or regard for others)
    Scheming King/Queen (this one is obvious la…)
    Loudest Whinger of them all (completely pessimistic, tops in fault finding and complaining without thought)
    Vainest of all cows (most shallow, insecure & totally without substance?)
    Mr. or Ms. I Want! (no need to earn, just demand or take la!)
    Mr. or Ms. High Horse (wonky warped sense of self/identity and judgemental to boot)
    Super absorbent man/woman (can’t be anymore self absorbed than they are)
    Biggest Kia of world (bloody scared of everthing. too scared to think even)
    and the list goes on…

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