Saturday, September 4, 2010


Singapore Minister Mentor recently made news when he said there should be no mandatory retirement age. He reiterates his stand in the Straits Times today which carried the headline "MM Lee: If a man is fit, let him carry on working". The former PM elaborates on his views on work and retirement in the email interview. Click here to read an extract. The full interview is accessible only to subscribers.

By coincidence, retirement is the cover feature in Malaysia's StarBiz today. Two seniors share their views on the issue with journalist Errol Oh.

Lily Fu, 62, who maintains the SeniorsAloud blog

A lot of people look at the seniors as one big homogenous group. It’s not the case, and certain policies don’t address this. The 55 and above category stretches to 85 or more. It’s a 30-year span and it’s very difficult to compartmentalise. The government policies on the elderly are mostly aimed at the poor. But there are also seniors who are wealthy and who don’t need financial help. And there’s a large band of people in between.

Some of those who retire tend to lapse into depression, feeling that they are no longer needed. At the same time, there is not much income coming in as before, and they have to grapple with inflation. They are not sure about what to do with their time.

We have to look for facilities and homes for the seniors. Where do we go? Surely not the old folks homes. There are many types of seniors. We are the baby boomers, who are better educated than our parents and we expect more. More has to be done on retirement living. What will happen to us when we reach our 70s?

Seniors are very proud people. They want financial independence. We have people who have retired at 55, but still have a lot more to contribute. However, their age and salary scale work against them. Why would companies want to employ them? There are very limited opportunities for re-employment, and these are mainly in areas such as consultancy and teaching.
I believe that raising the retirement age is to the Government’s benefit.

Bulbir Singh, 69, noted for his prolific letter-writing

I feel that my life now is very useful and valuable. I had prepared for retirement. At about 50, realising that retirement was close, I bought a home. I wanted a clean pension. I didn’t want to owe anybody.

I keep myself occupied. In fact, I’ve got little idle time these days. You’ve got to programme yourself to fill your days with activity and purpose. You have to be physically and mentally alert, and you have to make yourself useful.

We can’t just do nothing. There are 1,001 things to do. There’s no such thing as complaining about boredom. Those who can teach, can give tuition. There’s many ways of helping others, if we choose not to continue working for a salary. We have a civic duty, which means we owe something to society.

For the full article including interviews with other seniors, click here.

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