Friday, July 30, 2010

"THERE SHOULD BE NO RETIREMENT AGE"

That's what Lee Kuan Yew, 86, Singapore's former PM and now MM (Minister Mentor) proposed in his speech two days ago at a function celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

From 2012, Singapore employers have to offer re-employment to workers when they reach the retirement age of 62.

Here is what LKY has to say about retirement and reemployment.

"You work as long as you can work and you will be healthier and happier for it. If you ask me to stop working all of a sudden, I think I'll just shrivel up, face the wall and just that..."

"At my age, I may have aches and pains but I can keep going."

"Many of our workers have a preferred retirement, and then they die early! If you start saying, 'Oh, I'm old!' And you start reading novels and playing golf or playing chess or scrabbles, well, you're on the way down."

"The Chinese saying says 'You live long, you learn long'. Never stop learning. The day you stop learning, that's the day you begin to die, atrophy, and I'm still learning."

Sound advice from an elder statesman who is living proof that lifelong learning and purposeful living are hallmarks of longevity.

To view a video clip of excepts from LKY's speech, click here

Related article:
LEE KUAN YEW ON AGEING

Thursday, July 29, 2010

AT 55, ARE YOU READY TO RETIRE?

StarMetro interviewed me a few days ago for my views on retirees and re-employment. Here is an extract from the Star's 27 July edition.

Are retirees choosy when it comes to salary and fringe benefits and does that make it difficult for them to get employment?
Retiree Lily Fu, 62, a trainer with Wawasan Open University teaching learning skills, said retirees should make themselves more employable like by picking up new skills or obtaining extra qualifications.

“They must find out the kind of industries that need them and never think of themselves as useless.

“Even if they cannot get a job, why not look into other alternatives like turning their hobbies or passion into one, like baking?” said Fu.

Fu, a retired teacher, said the principal had wanted her to stay on. She, however, had other plans like wanting to do something new, like training teachers.

Being interviewed for StarMetro

She lamented that there was lack of government support to push the private sector into recruiting retirees, unlike Singapore which had a special portal and even job fairs held to employ retirees.

“There is also the Advantage! scheme that offers financial grants of up to S$400,000 to companies registered or incorporated in Singapore supporting initiatives that directly boost the recruitment, retention and re-employment of matured workers,” she said.

Click here for the full article.

Related articles:

AN OPTION FOR OLDER WORKERS: TO BE RETIRED OR REHIRED

PREPARING TO REHIRE OLDER STAFF

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

HOPE FOR CANCER PATIENTS

Over the past two years, I have received numerous articles on cancer prevention and cures forwarded by friends and blog contributors. Some of these purported cures have turned out to be false while others simply could not be verified.
Finally I've found some really exciting information on the topic that I can share on Seniorsaloud without wondering if it's a work of fiction.

I am referring to Dr William Li's Youtube TED talk on how to starve off tumour cells by eating the right food. Dr Li is a cancer researcher and president of the Angiogenesis Foundation. No medical jargon here - just plain talking about how tumours develop and what we can eat to kill them. Absolutely fascinating. Please share as this might be life-saving information for some people that you know.



Here's Dr Li's list of anti-angiogenic foods:


It is interesting to note that meat and animal products e.g. milk are absent from the list.

You might also find these links useful:

UNDERSTANDING ANGIOGENESIS

ANTI-ANGIOGENESIS FOODS

THE BEST WAY TO PREVENT CANCER: A GOOD DIET

Saturday, July 24, 2010

SOME TLC GOES A LONG WAY

LRemember the recent news report about the Filippino maid who became an instant multi-millionaire when her employer, Dr Quek Kai Miew, left her $S6million worth of inheritance, including an apartment in upmarket Leonie Hill, Singapore? (ST photo) The maid, now 47, had looked after her employer for 23 faithful years. During the last few years when the doctor was ill and wheelchair-bound, the devoted maid was constantly by her side, taking care of her just like a filial daughter would. Indeed, as both women were unmarried, there was a strong mother-daughter bond between the two women.

What interested me in this report wasn't the inheritance, but this line which I shall quote here from the Straits Times report: "She had relatives here and abroad, but was not close to them, except for the nephew who visited her just about every week."

This confirms what many of us already know - most people never forget those who gave them tender loving care when no one else would, especially in their time of need. And they show their appreciation (or not) when they write their will.

I quote from another news report.

“My wife had to do everything for me. She has been coping so well and is always there for me, encouraging me and ever so supportive. I don’t know what I would have done without her.


“I must confess I never used to believe in celebrations like wedding anniversaries, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day or any other special occasion. All meant nothing to me.


“But all that has changed now, and all I want to do now is to concentrate on my life, show my wife how much I love her, make her happy and share whatever time I have left with her and my family. I have been a good father, but I don’t know if I have been a good husband. I want to be able to make up to my wife for the time lost."

~ Comment from a husband who is on medical treatment for liver cancer. ~

We can draw so many powerful messages from these two stories, don't you think?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF RETIREES


The public's view of retired middle-income professionals is they have unlimited financial resources to live on for the rest of their golden years. After working a good 30-40 years of our lives, retirees like us should have millions in EPF savings, right? Absolutely not! But that's how investment brokers and mutual fund agents look at us. And that's why we are a popular target for their products.

Healthcare and medical expenses eat up a huge chunk of our retirement funds. Inflation is another $-gobbler. We don't qualify for government aid. So where do we turn to when we need some financial assistance?

Our adult children? They have so many financial commitments of their own, we can consider ourselves lucky they don't borrow money from us! We have to count every penny and think four times before we part with our hard-earned savings.

Source: New Straits Times

Adibah Amin is a case in point. A well-known journalist and former NST editor, she suffered a stroke three years ago and has been running up hefty bills for her medical treatment. Fortunately for her 1Malaysia Development came to her aid with a donation of RM50,000. We wish her a speedy recovery. She is one great lady and much admired.

But what about the less fortunate retirees whom society (and perhaps their own children) has forgotten? I have met many who are in this predicament. Over time, I have seen how some of them have sunk into despair and depression. Their constant lament: "Want to die, also cannot die". They see no hope, no point in living.

It is heartening to know that finally the private sector is sitting up and taking note. Several events are coming up over the next couple of months that seek to address the needs of retirees. For more information on these events, check out the announcements posted on Seniorsaloud.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SENIORS ARE GOING BACK TO SCHOOL AGAIN


I am a big advocate of lifelong learning. It doesn't matter whether it's for the paper qualifications or just for the fun of learning something new. I get all excited whenever I meet like-minded retirees. There's instant bonding.

That's exactly what happened last Sunday. I was at Wawasan Open University's Orientation Day for new students. There I met Monica Khoo, 68, a retired nurse and grandmother of five. She had just enrolled for a certificate course in Business Management, and is one of several retirees currently studying at WOU.

"I always like to try new things. It helps to activate the brain cells. Of course, there's that feeling of anxiety. Will I be able to cope with the challenges of open distance learning? It's so alien to me. But I am excited too, and definitely looking forward to my first tutorial next Sunday."

At WOU KL branch with Regional Office Director Mr Kuppusamy Chellappan, Acting Asst Manager Ms Janet Khaw (in blue) and Adm Assistant Esther (in green).

If you are seriously considering further studies, you might want to check out Wawasan Open University (WOU). You can choose from certificate to postgraduate courses. There's no maximun age limit. Entry requirements are flexible. Fees are really affordable as students aged 60 and above get a 50% discount. Other plus points: the medium of instruction is English, and the student population is truly multi-ethnic. Oh, did I also mention well-qualified and experienced tutors like Mr Fan Kok Keong below? He's an inspiration to both students and tutors.

Advice from tutor Fan Kok Keong in WOU's newsletter (click on image to enlarge).

By the way, WOU is not paying me a cent to promote it. I'm merely stating what is. Check out the website to find out more. It's still not too late to register and get that degree you missed out on when you were busy building a career or raising a family. The new semester starts next week. There are two intakes a year, in January and July.

Cultural diversity enriches the learning experience for all students

Related Article

Sunday, July 18, 2010

THE BLACK MARKER FANATICS ARE AT IT AGAIN


Matisse would have a fit if he saw the above in the International Herald Tribune. Our marker-happy fanatics are at it again blackening out body parts they consider too obscene for public viewing. And this is only a painting! No wonder sex crimes, teenage pregnancies and abandoned babies are on the rise.

Matisse worked on the painting for six years, and these over-zealous folks at the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture probably took just two minutes to defile Matisse's work of art. Thank God for the Internet. Here is Matisse's 1917 "Bathers by a River" in full colour from IHT's online edition.

Now that all is revealed, my eyes don't see anything offensive. All I see is a masterpiece.

Here's another - Botticelli's Venus in blacked-out shame, and in her full glory. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so is filth. We know which category of beholders our black marker brigade belongs to.


“Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime."
~ Potter Stewart, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court ~
Related article:
SENSELESS CENSORSHIP

Friday, July 16, 2010

BEFORE WE KICK THE BUCKET...


Death is inevitable. Instead of treating the subject as taboo, why not look at it positively as relief from pain or a chance to meet our Maker? Better still, why not celebrate death with a party to die for? There is a website that allows you to do just that and more.

You can leave messages for your loved ones, post photos, write your bucket list, choose your favourite songs to be played at your wake, and even write your own obituary.


The website is a tie-in with the first-ever global Quality of Death Index commissioned by Singapore's Lien Foundation. The report was released just two days ago on 14 July. For those who are interested, you can download a copy here.

In overall rankings based on basic healthcare environment, availability, cost and quality of palliative care, UK topped the list of 40 countries. Among Asian countries, Taiwan ranked the highest at 14th, Singapore 18th, Hongkong 20th, Japan 23rd, Malaysia 33rd, China 37th and right at the bottom, India 40th.

If you would like more information on palliative care and pain management for patients as well as support for caregivers, do check out Singapore Hospice Council's website.

Related article: (Find out how these people spent their remaining years - most inspiring!) Click on the link below.

Knocking on Heaven's Door

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

GDP OR GDH? HAVE WE GOT IT WRONG?

I first viewed this video at the Bucky group session last Saturday. (See previous blog post.) Some very interesting ideas here. A bit long but definitely worth viewing and sharing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

OVER A CUP OF KOPI AND SOME YU TIAO...

Remember those days when people had more time on their hands and they would gather in small groups at the kopitiam (coffee shop) to talk about the economy and complain about the government?

Well, these days you don't need a kopitiam. Any place will do as I discovered last Saturday in a downtown Singapore mall. Early that morning before the doors opened for business, a small group of 13 buddies, all senior citizens, got together to enjoy a light breakfast (with kopi of course) and some fellowship. It was my first time at the session. It turned out to be the most enriching two hours I've ever spent in a hair salon.
Group coordinator and facilitator, Joo Hock, leads the self-introductions.

Called the Bucky group after Buckminster Fuller, key philosopher and innovator of the 20th century, the friends would meet every Saturday to discuss topics and issues of current interest, and share their personal views. 
All ears and all eyes on the screen as the group learns about measuring what makes life worthwhile.

Lest anyone thinks these sessions sound like dry intellectual discourses, let me say they are NOT. That particular morning we had a karaoke session, singing favourites like "Starry, Starry Night", and "One World". Then we listened to a TED talk on YouTube, specially selected to make us rethink how success should be measured. The screening was followed by a round table discussion on pertinent points raised in the video. The session ended with an activity and a debriefing.
There is a lesson to be learned about getting out of knotty situations.

Sessions like the Bucky group sessions are a meaningful yet fun way to meet up with like-minded friends on a regular basis. Venue and snacks can be provided on a rotation or volunteer basis to save costs.

It was recently reported that retirees and senior citizens in Kuala Lumpur have no place to go that doesn't cost money or require membership registration.

Well, the Bucky group has shown that it is easy enough to start a small group with your friends and meet up weekly for some organized activities. If you register the group, you will have to set up a committee, charge membership fees and impose rules. Why go through all the hassle and stress?

If you have started a special interest group and would like others to know about it, do drop us a line at seniorsaloud@gmail.com.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Life is like a cup of coffee

Here's a most inspiring video worth sharing again and again, lest we forget. Time and again we need to ask ourselves - what do we want in life? Are we looking for things that truly make a difference in our lives? Or are we wasting precious years seeking transient gratification?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

TIME OUR LANGUAGE POLICY MAKERS REMOVE THEIR BLINKERS

Source: Straits Times July 9, 2010

No, those headlines are not from our local papers. Wish they were. Perhaps only then would there be an all-out effort for Malaysians to start getting serious about improving their English. The language has been in freefall over the past 30 years.

A real pity. There was a time when English was our second language. Now, it is more like a foreign language. No thanks to blinkered politicians who seem to think that those who speak English are traitors to our national language. What utter rubbish! My bi-lingual Malay friends would find this libellous, to say the least.

Even the Sultanah of Johor, Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idri has lamented that most Malaysians cannot speak or write well in English, compared to older Malaysians who are at ease using the language.

At the root of the problem are the English language teachers themselves. If we are to believe the news reports, the majority of these teachers are barely proficient in English. Some of the application letters I received for the post of English language teacher at my former private school were written in such atrocious English, it would have been criminal of me as Head of the English Department then to allow such teachers to wreak further damage in our English language classes.

The Education Ministry is ever so quick to defend itself. In response to a letter "Teachers need help to improve their English", the ministry has this to say: "Apart from being trained in universities or teacher training institutes for a minimum of three years at pre-service level, these teachers also attend in-service programmes conducted by the ministry's Teacher Training Division."

A teacher may have received training, but that does not necessarily make him an effective teacher. If we apply the ministry's argument, our children should be speaking the Queen's English by the time they leave high school since they would have learned the language for 10-11 years by then. We all know this is not the case. Far from it.

Unless the government is prepared to take drastic measures, and not flip-flop as they have done over the teaching of Maths and Science in English, Malaysia will lag further behind in competitiveness.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A CHILD'S DREAM OF GREATNESS

World Cup Quarter-finals: Germany vs Argentina
Germany team leaving the field after their 4-0 win over Argentina

Allow a grandma to indulge a little here. My only grandson returned from two weeks of World Cup excitement in South Africa early this morning. He skipped school to go with his parents. Which little boy would pass over the chance of a lifetime to watch a World Cup live? And which teacher or headmaster would disapprove when in their hearts they probably wished they could be there too.

Max was six when he first saw World Cup action in Germany in 2006. Two years later he was at the Beijing Olympics with his parents. Max was so inspired by 8-gold winner Olympian Michael Phelps that he vowed to be a world-class champ in the pool just like Phelps.

This framed and autographed poster of Michael Phelps occupies pride of place in Max's room. It is his vision chart.
Max's impressive haul of medals, mostly for swimming and triathlon.

Now that Max has seen many of his football heroes in action, he is ready to take his football skills several notches higher. If my grandson maintains that focus and determination, who knows what heights he might reach, what aspirations he might achieve. The least we can do for our children and grandchildren is to give them all the support they need, and not be cynical about their lofty ambitions.

 A little boy can dream of greatness one day, can't he?

On a related note, it must have been heart-breaking for Ghana, the last surviving African team, to bow out of the World Cup in the quarter-finals. It was robbed of a sure goal when Stephen Appiah's shot was by blocked by Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez's 'hand of God'.

 
Headlines from a copy of South Africa's Sunday Times.
It must have been heart-warming for the Ghanian players to see this double-page spread (above) in the national papers the morning after their loss.

A final note: these little pill-boxes (below) with a football logo on the lid were distributed free in the streets of Capetown. Inside were edible paper-thin wafers each one with a quote from the Bible. Popping one of them in your mouth is like taking communion in church. A rather novel idea for evangelising, I must say.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

LATEST ON ALTANTUYA CASE

For those who have been following the Altantuya case, here's the latest from Malaysiakini.

IS THE COUNTRY REALLY FACING A MORAL CRISIS?

Working as an anti-vice volunteer must be exciting and titillating. You never know what or who you may discover behind locked hotel room doors, behind coconut trees on the beach or inside cars parked at lovers' haunts.

"We go to places identified as hot spots to catch the culprits in the act. We listen for sounds of heavy breathing and kissing. We observe and wait for a while to get evidence for prosecution purposes if they are Muslim couples. Then we move in and aim our torchlights on the young couples who are usually naked," says one such volunteer who reportedly has had enough. He is calling it quits after six years of nabbing 1,200 naked couples doing 'it' on the beaches in Terengganu.

Gee, this is one case of burn-out I never thought I would read about.

So what are the authorities going to do about it? Their plan? "Light up the beaches and intensify patrols at hot areas." Well, good luck in their fight against raging hormones! If years of patrolling the beaches has only resulted in more khalwat cases, it's obvious this approach doesn't work.

According to statistics from The National Registration Department, a total of 257,000 birth certificates issued between 2000 and July 2008 did not bear the names of parents. This translates into 2500 babies born out of wedlock monthly or 84 cases daily. In 2009 alone, Malays top the list with 17,303 such cases. That works out to 1442 cases a month!

What is shocking is not the number of illegitimate babies, but the high incidence of babies abandoned at roadsides or left at dump-sites, often to die. The young mothers have nowhere and no one to turn to. They see no other way out of their predicament. They should be given all the help possible. Punishment and condemnation are the last things they need.

If the harsh approach of fire and brimstone, imprisonment and social ostracism doesn't seem to work, perhaps what is needed is love, forgiveness and support from the family of young unmarried mothers, and a sense of duty and responsibility from young unmarried fathers.

While our leaders are lamenting the 'moral decline' among our youths, we have laws in our country that allow child marriages. Did you know that the marriage of children below the age of 16 is permitted with the consent of the Syariah Court? When a man old enough to be the father or the grandfather of the child is legally allowed to marry that child, that, in my view, is morally wrong, and bordering on paedophilia.

With the appointment of the first two women Syariah Court judges at the Putrajaya and Federal Territory courts, hopefully there will be greater protection and justice for Muslim women in the country.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

FEASTING AT THE CHARITY DURIAN FEST

T-shirts with caricatures by Reggie Lee were on sale for RM8 each.

Durian lovers, if you missed this year's Charity Durian Fest at Subang Parade, you will regret it for the next 12 months. For only RM20, you get to eat all you can in an hour. But the best part is all proceeds go towards helping grant the wishes of children with terminal illness. Organizers of the annual event Children's Wish Society of Malaysia is hoping to raise even more funds this year.

Our group of seniors from RAMLEA managed to purchase 25 tickets for the 2-3pm session before they were all sold out. As the pictures below show, we had a feast, and all for a good cause.

Good idea to leverage on the charity event to register new voters.
After what seemed like forever, the first basket-loads of durians finally made their way to the sunken plaza at Subang Parade.
More waiting as the durians are being opened.
Our group digging into the king of fruits.
30 minutes later...beginning to slow down. Oh, there's mangosteen and rambutans too?
The sight of more durians as we made our way out was enough to make us belch durian breath!