“Kia-su” is Hokkien (the Chinese dialect commonly used in Singapore) that literally means “fear of losing”. According to the unkind, this “fear of losing” is allegedly a Singaporean trait – though I would postulate that it is more of a universal trait when it comes to how some practice business.

“Kia-su” has its basis in fear. The fear of scarcity. Which in turn drives greed:
Take it even if you can’t use it; it is free.
Take more than you need just in case; it is free.
Take it now before you miss out.
If you don’t take it, someone else will, and you will miss out.

This is not about starving people grabbing for available food. This is about otherwise affluent people grabbing for cheap plastic trinkets without thinking, and exploiting any and all opportunities without due consideration for wider implications.

In business this essentially means: All is fair game in the pursuit of profit. Let’s make as much as we can in the short term now. Assumption – there will never be enough to go around. There is lack and scarcity. And more is always better, especially if it is free.

This is working to the assumption that life is a zero-sum game. For one to live, another must die. Which also links to “only the strong survive” and other less evolved/less civilised jungle-living rationale.

Then again, in an odd twist, perhaps this sort of short term make-money-now approach is just the right model for this world of constant and rapid change?

The ability to seize any and all opportunities, to rapidly form alliances, and just as rapidly discard people, is the way of the future?

So what happens to ethics, trust, partnerships, collaborations, decency, respect? Dusty concepts of a bygone age? In this context, perhaps only SOME people are made to be in business?