Tampines the most kiasu town in Singapore

From ‘Tampines most kiasu town in Singapore’, 25 Oct 2017, article in CNA

Tampines is the most “kiasu” town in Singapore, according to Giant Singapore.

…According to Oxford Dictionaries, kiasu refers to a person “very anxious not to miss an opportunity”.

The contest was conducted in the form of an online “kiasu assessment quiz” that ran for a month from Sep 25, and attracted more than 57,000 submissions. Each participant’s result was collated, based on their postal code, into an overall town scoreboard that showcased the top five kiasu towns in Singapore, the company explained.

Based on the results, Giant concluded that nearly half of Tampines residents would press the traffic light button repeatedly in the hope that it would make the light turn green faster. They are also twice as likely to “rush and eat all the food in a buffet before others can get to it”, as well as reserve, or “chope”, seats at coffee shop with tissue packets, umbrella or a bag.

“One in three Tampines residents would accept free concert tickets, despite not being a fan, so that they could resell them on Carousell,” the company added.

For winning the contest, residents will get to enjoy a one-day-only “mega giveaway” on Saturday at the Giant Tampines hypermarket, the company said – “where kiasu residents and supporters alike can queue to their hearts’ content”.

Winning the ‘most kiasu town’ award is like winning the Ugliest Dog competition.

As a Tampines resident I may vouch that the people of Tampines are as kiasu as the average Singaporean. One storey of Tampines Mall is dedicated to tuition centres. We have a heritage walk that takes after the one in Queenstown. We have street names numbered up to 93. We have 5 MPs in our GRC like any other large constituency.

The label ‘kiasu’ is not something to be proud of, for sure. Defenders of kiasuism say it’s part of our competitive DNA whether we like it or not, the drive that makes us excel in various aspects of this dog-eat-dog life, whether it’s being among the first to get the latest iPhone or acing our PSLE scores. Kiasu has become anthropomorphised in the form of the Mr Kiasu comic and TV series, or branded and commercialised as the Kiasuparents portal.  There was even a coffee joint named Kiasu Espresso (now closed – apparently not kiasu enough to survive).

We no longer take ‘kiasu’ as an insult, but something that we simply have to be sometimes in order to survive in this society, to the point that it transgresses basic human decency. As for pounding the green man button, that says nothing about kiasuism. It just means Tampines pedestrians are goddamn idiots who have no idea how buttons work, whether they’re for traffic lights or lifts, like lab rats hooked on cocaine pressing the lever of an empty cannister again and again.  Re-selling free tickets on Carousell, again, is more about being a cheap unethical scalper than a kiasu Singaporean. The truly kiasu Singaporean will get and keep anything as long as it’s free, even if they don’t need it, whether it’s a potato peeler or movie tickets to yet another Ah Boys to Men sequel.

But therein lies the problem. We don’t know how to define classic kiasuism anymore without getting into socio-ethical arguments if it overlaps with expected, even normal, behaviour. Like camping by your laptop to book online Ed Sheeran tickets for example, or taking a day off just to queue for Lobster Nasi Lemak at Lawa Bintang.

Now excuse me while I prepare for my stay-over before the mega giveaway at Giant Tampines this Saturday. For whatever they’re giving away.

 

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