'Kiasu' culture can take us far

Singaporeans have received a lot of flak and brickbats about being "kiasu" or "kiasi", with the attributes hogging the limelight in Parliament recently ("'Kiasu' culture is stifling originality in business: NMP"; April 6).

While such qualities are often cast in a negative light, such traits may have inadvertently been the contributing factors in our country achieving so much in just 50 years ("'Kiasu' culture can be an asset" by Mr Jeffrey Law Lee Beng; April 8).

To put a positive spin on it, being kiasu or kiasi also denotes a state of mind that values advance preparation for any crisis.

It derives from a desire not to be caught by surprise or get the short end of the stick.

To put it bluntly, our much maligned kiasi and kiasu inclinations have contributed in no small way to our current state of peace, progress and prosperity.

Much of our current state of development and achievement is due to these attributes, which motivate prescient planning to meet future challenges.

Some may see this as a misconstrued or skewed interpretation of kiasiism and kiasuism.

But, given our dire predicament after separation from Malaysia and our unprecedented achievements in such a short span of time , we cannot deny that these qualities played a crucial role.

In short, Singapore has an uncanny knack for turning such seemingly negative attributes into positive energy that fuels our stupendous growth.

With the constant admonitions from our leaders that the threat of terrorism has become very real, we may require a generous dose of kiasuism and kiasiism to keep us on our toes and ensure this oasis of peace is not ruffled.

Seah Yam Meng