By: Ben Matchap
Why are Singaporeans so kiasi and kiasu (scared to die scared to lose)? Why do we seem like very shrewd people? How did it get this way?
It didn’t happen overnight. It was through spending your formative years in our education system that it got beaten into us that if we don’t score well, we will become a rubbish cleaner and we should not end up like them.
So, from a young age we are taught a two things:
- Not to respect rubbish cleaners; and
- If we didn’t score well we would useless.
Our schools do a great job producing skilled workers to be a cog of the machine. But what they lack is teaching us how to be better human beings. Our schools don’t teach us to have a critical opinion.
They don’t teach us to question the things around us.
They don’t teach us that it is ok to challenge authority (in fact challenging that authority is what ensures good leadership is in the first place).
No, our schools don’t teach us any of that.
Instead what our schools do excel in is pressuring kids to memorize facts, feel bitter at classmates scoring better than them and ingraining into them the rat race mindset that will collectively do us in pretty soon.
Singaporeans suck at communicating their emotions. If a staff did a good job managers feel threatened. If two people are arguing we like to pour oil on troubled waters and hope the problem goes away. We even blame the victim of a problem for pointing out that there is a problem because it is their fault for stirring the pot while we try to live in blissful ignorance.
All these traits are worrying, especially now, because right now Singapore needs to change and change fast to adapt to a market focused on innovation and creativity.
But sadly I see us throwing money at the problem while practicing the exact opposite.