Ah Beng

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Ah Beng

Ah Beng (Chinese: 阿明) is a stereotype applied to a certain group of young Chinese men in Southeast Asia, particularly Singapore and Malaysia, who display common characteristics such as having dyed hair, wearing loud fashion and predominantly speaking Chinese. The female equivalent of an Ah Beng is an Ah Lian (simplified Chinese: 阿莲; traditional Chinese: 阿蓮; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: a-liân).[1]

A stereotypical Ah Beng would be someone who is not highly educated, is loud and unsophisticated, and operates within secret societies and street gangs. Ah Lians on the other hand are regarded as bimbos, and are stereotyped as anti-intellectual, superficial, materialistic, and shallow.[citation needed]

Outside of Southeast Asia, the western equivalent of an Ah Beng would be Australia's Bogans, US's Rednecks and Britain's/Europe's Chavs.


Ah Beng comes from the romanization of the Hokkien pronunciation of 阿明 (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: a-bêng). The character "; Ā; A" is commonly used in the names of Chinese males in the region, thus the term "Ah Beng" alludes to their commonness. In the Cantonese-speaking parts of Malaysia, Ah Beng is also known as lala zai. 'Lala' has no actual meaning in itself, while 'zai' means 'boy'. 'Lala zai' refers to individuals who speak Manglish and possess a strong preference for gaudy fashions or hairstyles.

In popular culture[edit]

Ah Bengs have been featured in several Singaporean films, including:

  • Army Daze (1996) — A play, later made into a film, depicting the melting pot of National Service in Singapore. One of the characters is named after the term.
  • Money No Enough (1998) — a film exploring the trials and tribulations of the Chinese-speaking people of Singapore (who make up the majority of the island's population).
  • 15: The Movie (2003) — "The adventure of five fifteen-year-old boys in Singapore: estranged to every social reference, except for that of appearance and close friendships, they live their lives distant from their families and school, passing their days in a complete state of indolence in the search of experiences, at times even physically painful (tattoos, piercing, wounds)."[2]
  • S11 (2006) —[3] another film.
  • Taxi! Taxi! (2013) — a 2013 Singaporean comedy film based on the 2010 work Diary Of A Taxi Driver by Cai Mingjie, said to be "Singapore's most well-educated taxi-driver".

The stereotypical Ah Beng was the title character in the television series Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd, played by Gurmit Singh. In the show, Chu Kang's brother, Phua Chu Beng, is humorously nicknamed Ah Beng, despite being an articulate, educated architect, the complete antithesis of an Ah Beng.[4]

See also[edit]

  • NEET - Not in Education, Employment or Training

In other countries[edit]


  1. ^ Beng Huat Chua (2003) Life is not complete without shopping for bimbo products: consumption culture in Singapore, Singapore University Press
  2. ^ Official website at Zhao Wei Films Archived August 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Tan Dawn Wei, "Ah Beng Rulz Liao", The Straits Times (2 August 2006).
  4. ^ Mak Mun San, "I'm a Paid Extrovert", The Straits Times (28 August 2006).


External links[edit]