“NUA” Is The Opposite Of “KIASU”


garfield sleepFor most of my childhood, I was a huge fan of Garfield (I still am), I had Garfield t-shirts, dolls, stationery, cartoon books. Why did I love this clearly overweight and obnoxious cat? He is lazy, disdainful, sarcastic but smart. He knew how to torture his owner and had such cynical lines. He’d manipulate his owner to do things for him and observe life without moving an inch. I wanted to be like Garfield when I grew up!

Lately, I have encountered some slack behavior and been introduced to the Hokkien word “nua” or to be more precise “lam nua” which basically means slack or lazy. For example, it’s when something is given on a silver platter to someone and all that person has to do is confirm to you whether he wants to go ahead with the plan. All you want is a “yes” or “no” answer but all you get is total and complete silence.

In the blogging world, you have to be “kiasu” or you will definitely lose out. What that means is sending a RSVP asap to an invitation because there have been occasions where I sent a RSVP a few hours after I received the invitation only to be told that all spaces for the event have been taken up already. I thought I wasn’t that slow but it turns out there are a lot of people much quicker than me. It’s a competitive world which will only get more competitive. Not that I saw blogging as being competitive when I first started but sooner or later, I realized that you either go out and try and catch some brands’ attention (not that it works half the time) or risk being ignored forever but that’s another story altogether.

What I can’t understand is people who express an interest in something, you proceed to put the plan in action based on their interest and when the concept is presented to them, they don’t bother to let you know whether they wish to act further on it. I am sure everyone has come across such people before. It’s frustrating and exasperating. I will always let someone know whether I am interested in proceeding with something or not. The worst thing is waiting for people to make up their minds. If that is not “nua”, I don’t know what is. Even Garfield is less “nua” compared to some people I have encountered lately.

“Nua” seems like some Hokkien epidemic but of course it afflicts people of all races, ages, gender and nationality. A lot of time and effort is spent on “nua” people and sometimes you wonder whether it’s even worth it. Being “nua” isn’t just a lackadaisical state of being. People are also “nua” because they want to avoid giving you an answer, whether it’s positive or negative. I can always take “no” for an answer with good grace since I’ve been denied so much anyway that it doesn’t matter any more but there are those who can’t reply because they don’t want to say “no”.

I’d choose being “kiasu” over “nua” any day. Neither is good since “kiasu-ness” is being afraid to lose out in any circumstances but at least “kiasu” people have drive and motivation so being “kiasu” is the lesser of two evils. “Nua” people really drive me up the wall because I don’t think I have any “nua-ness” in me and it really goes against my principles.







  1. Hmm, all this while (from my understanding) I thought nua-ness is a personal thing that don’t affect other people other than that person… as it means less motivated and content with current situation.

  2. nua is not willing to do something right but not sure if it is consider as to other people as well? Well, some people doesn’t want to look bad by saying No so they rather just keep being silent

    • It depends on the situation, doesn’t it? Of course you can be “nua” if you are content with what you have but some people are so “nua” that when you need an answer quick (for their benefit) you don’t get any so that’s when it affects your life. I know what you all mean by a personal thing & it wouldn’t matter if their “nua-ness” only affected their lives.

  3. I guess you should sing ‘Say Something’ to that unapologetic creature haha just kidding. Its frustrating, and I feel its quite destructive to other people. Same feeling when someone gives you silent treatment. For 5 years and counting, that person still couldnt answer me yes or no and keep me hanging. I can take ‘no’ but he couldnt even say it. What the.. nua.