Forum: Kiasu culture and women in power

Kiasu culture stymies S'pore's progress

Singaporeans are familiar with the term "kiasu", the fear of losing out. There are many instances where this trait has surfaced, such as attending numerous tuition classes on top of studying hard at any given opportunity in order to obtain good grades; "choping" tables with tissue packets at hawker centres; and the recent panic buying at supermarkets in the light of the current Covid-19 outbreak.

Indeed, this culture has helped raise Singapore's competitiveness and allowed us to succeed in many areas. However, is neglecting all other factors for the sake of personal benefit really the most appropriate way of moving forward socially as a country?

I had the opportunity to meet a friend from another country. I was surprised to hear that in her country, the community viewed one another as a whole; and thus any action taken would be geared towards benefiting everyone. In a competitive and fast-paced country like Singapore, it's a rarity to see such behaviour in our society.

Perhaps it's time we distanced ourselves from this culture of "kiasuism". Doing so would not only allow us to progress much more as a society, but also as a nation.

It would exemplify how Singapore has, over the years, developed significantly not only in terms of our economy, but also in the mindset of the people.

Ansen Lim Yu Heng, 16,

JC1 Student


Put more women in power

Plato was among the first to pioneer the concept of feminism and gender equality. Centuries have passed, with the world experiencing industrialisation, urbanisation and, currently, digital transformation. Entrenched gender disparity, discrimination and the disproportionate playing field for women still remain.

Singapore is a patriarchal society, where we still see men as the majority in power.

There is evidence of lower female representation at senior management levels and in politics. An MSCI report of Singapore companies on its global equity index found that only 7.7 per cent had a female CEO in 2019.

Currently, there are 20 elected women parliamentarians out of a total of 89 Members of Parliament. Pay-wise, when comparing the median monthly pay of both the genders, it's been reported that women in Singapore earned 16.3 per cent less than men in 2018.

This is a problem that is prevalent not only in Singapore.

The positives are that there are now many more opportunities for women who were formerly disenfranchised. It is evident that women have seized the opportunities and proven their leadership capabilities when given a chance.

There is also mounting evidence that women can complement men in the workplace, with their expertise and thinking. Ostensibly, women have better communication, listening and emotive skills than men. These skill sets also mean that women can be great leaders.

So, why not put more women

in power?

Ong Bo Yang, 26

Undergraduate


CALLING YOUNG READERS: If you are a student or aged 21 years or below, and want to air your opinion on any report or letter in The Straits Times, e-mail your letter to stforum@sph.com.sg, with the subject header "Voices of Youth". Do include your age, school level and contact details, and the headline of the report/letter you refer to. Please keep to a length of 250 words.