Have Malaysians become too kiasu with their tapau habits?

MALAYSIANS are very fond of hurling the accusation of kiasu at Singaporeans. Roughly translated, the Hokkien term alludes to the behaviour of a person determined to take every advantage possible in any given situation, lest someone else beat(s) them to it!

For better or worse, it was a trait that was used to differentiate the cultures of the two neighbours on both sides of the causeway but it would seem that the over-competitive trait is beginning to rear its ugly head among many more Malaysians as a video circulating on social media highlights.

Having garnered over 2 million views and comments, the video on X (formerly known as Twitter) shows a woman arguing with caterers at a wedding function.

Apparently, it was only 10.30am and the wedding reception had yet to begin; the woman had already stuffed her face and then had the gall to demand that the caterers tapau two portions of food for her to take home!

Once upon a time, the practice of tapau was to prevent food waste at the end of a function. This was indeed commendable as surely it was good practice to prevent waste. But over time, this practice of tapau seems to have evolved, whereby guests (whether invited or not) seem to think it is par for the course to demand free packed meals.

The many comments seem to reflect this as netizens shared their own personal experiences and observations on this questionable habit among a growing number of Malaysians.

One user said there was a lady in her residential area who would turn up at all functions in the neighbourhood, whether invited or not, ensuring she had her fill of all the goodies. The commentator even said the lady turned up at her wedding and was lucky she didn’t help herself to the dowry as well.

Furthermore, the commentators also mused that this tapau culture seems to have become much more prevalent with many more guests arriving armed with containers with the intention of hoarding food for later.

Let’s face it, this is totally unacceptable, given that not everyone has eaten. It is downright rude to be demanding packed food when the function has not yet even started properly.

Perhaps to shame people from continuing this practice, the caterers, with the permission of the organisers, should place signage clearly stating that ‘tapau NOT allowed till AFTER the function’. While it may sound rude, it is the best way to deal with this highly unappealing form of kiasuness. – Sept 20, 2023

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