Kiasu, competitive and self-centred – all qualities of the typical Singaporean.
According to a new survey, those qualities are also how residents themselves perceive Singapore society.
Conducted by consultancy firms aAdvantage and Britain-based Barrett Values Centre, the survey asked 2000 local residents across age, gender, housing type about their views on the current and desired society and workplace.
Respondents were asked to pick from 10 values and behaviours out of a list of almost 90 when answering the survey questions.
1154 respondents picked kiasu (or the fear to lose) while 823 picked competitive. Another 653 people picked self-centred.
Materialism, kiasi (scared to die), deteriorating values and elitism formed the next category of qualities chosen.
Announcing the survey results on Thursday at the Institute of Policy Studies-aAdvantage Roundtable, Phil Clothier, CEO of Barrett Value Centre, said of the 10 values residents chose, eight are potentially limiting. While not necessarily bad, he said the values would be counter-productive to a society if pushed too far.
Crothier explained that the total percentage of the limiting values is also taken into account. Singapore is at 41 per cent while the very highest is Venezuela at 72 and the very low is Bhutan at 4.
Clothier also observed that most of the values chosen by respondents were made up of “psychological” values compared to “physical” values like crime or violence.
MP for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng, who was at the briefing, said, “The top few behaviours and values reflects the state of society today. The potentially limiting values like kiasu-ism and self-centredness show that people are being self-critical that we acknowledge our shortcomings. At least we are open about that.”
When it comes to what is most desired of a Singapore society, affordable healthcare was the respondents No. 1 choice, followed by caring for the elderly and effective healthcare.
On these findings, Dr Gillian Koh, senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies said, “The results show that it’s not just the material stuff that Singaporeans want. They’ve got higher aspirations.”