Sunday, June 13, 2021

Random thoughts: tang ping (躺平)


Source: Image from Yahoo news

Read about this "silent protest" against the mad rat race or/and harsh working conditions(996) in China. It definitely resonates with me. 

My few thoughts:

1) It is definitely not about laziness, but helplessness. If someone is just plain lazy, it is very unlikely to become a rallying call. So much so that censorship happens. 

2) When we all started, most of us, would have dreams, ambitions and would like to try to climb the ladder, win the rat race. If we are starting businesses, I guess the dreams are even bigger, such as changing the world, making an impact on other lives.

There are others, who did not want a race at the very beginning, and opted to walk their own path. I believed these people will not bother to even write about “Tang Ping" or join the "protest"/ Movement.

These are people are not lying down, they are walking a different path. "Tang Ping" as the word suggests, is a protest or call out for help. Much like a tired child asking for parents to carry them when they are tired.

3) Before we pass any judgements that these people are "pampered" or "sore losers", I do think, most of us, and especially myself, "tang ping" at different points of time. 

Tang Ping @ Investing

I remembered just perhaps years ago, I really would like to blog about a sizeable portfolio, and given how many bloggers who are much younger already had bigger portfolios, it is easy to feel disappointed or inferior. Truth to be told, although such thoughts are few and between and never as intense, it does still popped out now and then.

Tang Ping @Work

It is just in recent years, that I decided to walk in the rat race. I am still in the race, but walking instead of running, does give me more energy. I have tried my best to run in the last decade (I did more than 996 for a few years too) and did manage to get ahead.

But after a while, I realize I not interested in running ahead anymore. Hence, I am sort of also "tang ping"ING. 

Tang Ping @Social life

I really do not feel like meeting friends, relatives and the sort. I know about balance of life and etc, but truth to be told, while I enjoy having a quick chat with my friends, f2f or online, I really did not like to visit or do any meals. Don't ask me why, maybe I am a hermit. CB or heightened phase 2, really has no impact on me, I kind of enjoy it, reading and sleeping. Tang Ping again


I hope all those who are reading this, you never feel the urge to "tang xia", but if you do, I hope you take it as a rest, but stand up soon enough. You might decide that you do not wish to run, and would like to take a walk instead. You might start seeing people whom you overtaken earlier, overtaking you, but keep walking, until you are ready to run again. 

You might also decided that you had enough of that race, and decide to disqualified yourself and walk off without reaching the end. Find a meaningful journey, and walk, run, play along the way. If you find companions, good, if not, I hope you find solace in the journey alone. 

I think I didn't Tang Ping for too long in my life. Sometimes, some "gui ren" gave me a hand, and pull me up. Sometimes, I just can't stand the stepping on by others as I lie down, and hence I just got up. 

There are also occasions, where like a little child, hoping to hitch a hug and "ride", I protest by "tang ping".

Its Ok to be not to OK all the times.

Its not Ok to be not OK all the times. 



  1. Hi Sillyinvestor, thank you for sharing your thoughts and I like this line: "Find a meaningful journey, and walk, run, play along the way".

    1. Hi CK,

      My fun in my work race used to be center quite a bit in getting forward. I roughly knew what I wanted, how far ahead I want to go.

      When I reached it, i was idealistic, wanting to change the world, wanting to make a impact.

      Slowly, I realise I am more competent at a lower level. But now, I started to look around more and enjoy crowd watching in my race

      Hope yours is fun

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  2. I was in China previously and I agreed with this. I feel Singaporean should feel happy with what we have. In China, 关系 is more important than paper qualification. I seen tons of their food delivery guy who are holding onto good degree but don’t have the connection to get a good career. Some with parent who stick to 1 child policy, simply become 啃老族

  3. Hedgedog,
    Why were u at China? Studying or working? I am not sure about China. But I do agree that in Singapore, most of us can really have a choice to do what we want.

    I do know of the stress of my China Acquaintances, who worry about owning a property, and without one, will not be able to get approval of future in laws for wedding ...

    If one feel hopeless. 躺平is different and will mean different things in Singapore and China.

    Singaporean should just 躺一躺。

    Too much opportunity to be lying around too much

  4. Agree with hedgehog that those working in China Tier 1 cities have it a lot worse than us.

    1) 996 culture
    2) Age discrimination (the golden years are 25 to 35 for the top-end IT companies ... a lot of programmers get laid off after 35 when they are perceived to be slower/cannot work longer hours than fresh grads ... some job ads will state candidates cannot be older than 35!)
    3) Mostly single child families who are sandwiched between taking care of their parents and their child/ren compared to slightly bigger families here (at least those born in 60s/70s/early 80s SG tend to have siblings to spread out the caretaking.)
    4) Housing is damn expensive ... about same price as our mid-range condos ... no/limited public housing. Do note their starting pay for grads can be as low as SGD1k. Poor rental/purchase ratio. Thank god for hdb!
    5) Taxes go up to 45%
    6) Education is damn expensive and kids are put through crazy tuition and all sorts of CCA to pad up their profile to enter prestigious schools. Need guanxi/pull strings/buy school-district houses to get into good schools. Need to give unofficial red packets/gifts so that the school teachers will take care of their kids (heard if not, some kids are not given blankets in winters during their pm naps).
    7) Daily expenses are high (about the same as any international city... in some cases can be higher than Sg ... thank god for coffee shop and hawker center)
    8) No house no car forget about marrying a girl
    9) Medical care/insurance is just only starting to gain traction. Folks from other cities would travel by train to Tier 1 bigger hospitals to get better medical care.

    So Sg is really not that bad after all and I personally find Chinese Tier 1 cities more capitalistic/mercantile than Sg. We have a balanced mix of simple living (hdb, cai png life, medicare MA). For China, retirees may have to retreat into lower tier cities to retire with dignity. China is becoming like HK where the income divide is getting worse and some grads (even from top Chinese unis) may not be able to buy a place of their own eventually.

    Context: Spent 3 years working in Shanghai and have lots of Chinese friends.

    1. Hi Anon,

      Guess we should be thankful for what we have. I guess their race winners win bigger than us too?

      Thanks for sharing

    2. Sg has its own set of problems ... the biggest one being an existential issue.

      The question I always ask myself is, how will the future SG generation survive as the economic engines we relied on in the past are failing ... Singtel/Starhub (by chat apps, Netflix), SPH (by digital advertising), Keppel/Sembcorp (peak oil, climate change, renewable energy), SGX (by trading platforms), comfortdelgro (by ride hailing/self-driving cars), F&B (by cloud kitchen, food delivery platforms), Banks (by fintech), Office space (by shared workspaces), Retail (by ecommerce) ... these are all getting disrupted everyday.

      Structural and permanent changes caused by geo-politics, 15% minimum global tax regime, Covid-related WFH reducing the need for MNCs to base their operations here, Office/Retail space may be reduced by COVID and e-commerce, Automation/Offshoring/Remote work means less jobs to go around, sky high property prices, foreign labour may no longer be cheap, degrees getting commoditized etc. ... the tools we used in the past to drive economic growth are no longer working. And I don't think anyone has the solution to solve these structural issues. We are slowly losing our relevance to the world ... thus facing an imminent existential issue.

      Don't want to sound overly pessimistic but I fear for the next generation ... a significant portion may have to work overseas to make a living next time. LKY was prescient in predicting these future trends in one of his books and its starting to happen already.

      Change always happen slowly ... and then suddenly.

    3. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you for sharing your experience working in China. I can imagine the mental stress of being sandwiched generation in China.

      Husband is a single child. Wife is a single child. If any of the parents and parents-in-laws is stricken by chronic illness or becomes bed-ridden, the care-giving job can become a full-time job. If one hires professional help, the cost will be very high. Being single child, the burden cannot be shared.

      I wonder how many Chinese couples dare to answer the call from government to have more babies under such pressure.

  5. Hihi Anon,

    I am pretty much more optimistic about Singapore. Although I not taking the constrains and vunerablities for granted.

    I think of those mega trends as opportunities than challenges. Singapore strength (again not to be taken for granted) is thus far is harmonious workforce.

    Also, while we might all wish for strong men like LKY, I think the 4G leaders (most of them) have proved to be people of decency and some ability. I can't say the same about ability for ALl of them but most of them surely.

    I do see complacency as a cultural weakness here, and the lack of maverick like Philip Yeo. Everyone seem to be yes men, and plenty of mistakes have happen. I rather mistakes be made and corrected as a lesser evil thou..

    I worried about a loss of touch on the ground, and income disparity creating problem on our harmony in general, and not just within the workforce.

    But I guess I will just stop worrying as these are not what I can control.

    I just do my best for myself and see what I can do to survive if circumstances worsen.

  6. Always good to hear alternative views ... just have to prepare for the worst but hope for the best.

    One possible solution may be to increase pop size eventually (really got no choice as much as I dislike overcrowding and high density spaces but need the domestic consumption/vibrancy to offset an aging population, less and less working adults to contribute to CPF next time? Need enough people/skill sets so that MNCs will continue to base their operations here ... tough choice but no choice just like the casinos : (

    1. I have always have no objections with topping up or importing of citizens.
      Like you say, no choice.
      Is a good thing of someone of capability earnestly what to be in Singapore. But I guess, there are also some who "bought" PR here and behave badly.

      I think those who behave badly are minority. Today, they just have an article on population. I guess a measured growth like that they doing now, is fine.

      But the redistribution of wealth must be done ...

      Hope we continue to have a reasonable environment to thrive and survive

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