Saturday, May 25, 2013

MID-LIFE RETIREMENT = MID-LIFE CRISIS?

Can't read this? Read it below or click here to read the original article in StarBiz 25 May 2013

(Another recommended article to share here. It is written by Carol Yip, co-organizer with Seniorsaloud of the 2-day "LIVE YOUR BEST YEARS" workshop. It addresses many of the concerns that baby boomers face.)


MANY times our wake-up call comes at midlife in the form of a meltdown. It is at midlife that we are brought to a situation where we need to change our behaviour, attitude, beliefs or even lifestyle.

It is a period when you feel lost or confused and it may be even your lowest. The cause can be anything from stagnation in personal development, career crisis, unhappy marriage, stressful relationship, issues with children to simply living without a purpose. Some struggle with age related problems ageing and menopause for women or andropause for men.

Or it could be grieving due to death of a loved one or parents or just fatigue from living day-to-day routine. Individuals experiencing a midlife dilemma are often searching for an uncertain dream or goal, feeling a deep sense of remorse for goals not accomplished, desiring to achieve a feeling of youthfulness, needing to spend more time alone or with certain peers, wanting to start a business or to do something that he or she is passionate about, perhaps even humanitarian work. At times, midlife trials have a way of stripping us completely of pride, ego and financial comfort zone.

What is midlife after all?

Midlife is part of a person's phase of life. You may be in your 30s, 40s or even later, if you live long enough you could encounter it. Just as you did not avoid adolescence so you will not avoid your midlife, if it happens.

But really, we should all learn to embrace it. Midlife will transform you. You may not know what you want, but during midlife, you will have to navigate the good and bad.

This transition may not be easy. During midlife, some people find that they discover the true meaning in life. Some struggle with this period. Sometimes, different behaviours appear, such as abuse of alcohol and/or drugs, shopaholism, image makeovers or big ticket purchases. Some people think that it is a time to recapture lost youth. Yet others find that they sail through without difficulties.

Midlife and career

If you are feeling bored, frustrated and not motivated by your current career direction, chances are you are living your midlife crisis. You may have a vision of an ideal career that you think is more in line with your expectations of happiness and financial success. You also may feel that this other path will fulfil a life mission, making your life more meaningful for you.

You must have the right mindset to prepare for a career transition if you are thinking of a career change in your midlife. Otherwise, the transition can cause more emotional stress if you end up struggling daily in your new job and environment. You may end up job hopping, which is not good for your resume. Don't forget that you will need your employment income for financial support unless you have saved enough money or have assets that generate monthly income for your living expenses.

Leaving a job to search for true meaning in life without sufficient backup funds in place can lead to serious problems. Therefore, you must evaluate carefully to ensure that the career move is what you want and will meet your purpose. Think twice before you run away from your current career just because you are not happy with life in general.

Midlife and retirement

Midlife crisis can even happen during the retirement years. A recent article from Daily Express revealed a survey report that a third of people in the age group of 60s are undergoing a period of questioning the meaning of their lifes. In the same survey, they found that one third of men and women went through a period of “developmental crisis” in their 60s.

Psychologists said that it differed from a midlife crisis in which middle-aged people take stock of their career or life achievements. When asked what triggered their change in behaviour, the top responses were the death of a friend, family member or colleague, divorce and children growing up and leaving home.

In the same article, Dr Oliver Robinson from the University of Greenwich, who was behind the research, said that while some individuals responded with the expected disappointment, others people set new goals for themselves and learned to appreciate their surroundings more. He said it seemed that when loss-inducing events occur together or in close proximity in time, a person's capacity to cope in their 60s is overwhelmed and a later-life crisis is precipitated.

Unfortunately, it can be financially challenging if the desire to live the best years of retirement results in spending substantial sums on impulse purchases, expensive hobbies or marriage splits.

Be mentally and financially positive

If you're experiencing a midlife meltdown, be encouraged. Midlife meltdowns do have a positive side to them. You just need to be strong to ride through the turbulent situation with endurance, patience and a strong will to search for what you really, really want so that you're happy with your life.

Midlife trials can shape you into a stronger, wiser and better person. It is all in how you perceive it. You may want to talk to a counsellor to help guide you to find some answers.

While you are searching for answers, you still need to be mindful of your financial situation. Don't let your midlife crisis blues drain you financially. Watch out for your spending behaviour.

Spend wisely during this transition because you still need to cover your financial commitments such as housing and car loans, insurance policies, credit card payments, taxes and living expenses. You must also continue to save money for your emergency fund, investment and retirement account.

Healthy finances will contribute to a less stressful situation when you are in the process of searching for answers about meaning in life and happiness. So, the best advice as you live through your midlife is to pay attention to your personal finances and avoid getting into a financial crisis.

Friday, May 24, 2013

THE TRUE COST OF AGEING WELL

Staying active: For RM1,800 a month, residents of 
St Mary’s Nursing Home receive care and take part in 
activities  such as a race aided by staff.
(This article first appeared in The Star on 23 May 2013. It is well worth reading to get an idea of how much it costs for us to remain healthy, active and looking good as we age. If you wish to know how much it costs to keep an elderly parent in a private nursing home, you can read the full article here.)

BY 2020, the Statistics Department states 3.4 million individuals will be able to tell their younger counterparts, “I have eaten more salt than you have rice.”

Within this group, the number of elderly people over the age of 75 will reach 1.1 million. The perks of being a senior citizen may include 50% discounts when it comes to bus fares, air tickets and train rides, but to enjoy these discounts, one needs to be financially and healthily sound.

So how much does one need in preparation for their golden years?

On the cosmetic front, Malaysian Hairdressing Association (MHA) president Billy Lim reckons some 50% of 60-year-olds in urban areas will resort to colouring their hair in the bid to keep appearances fresh.

By some estimates, about 840,000 individuals will spend between RM100 and RM200 a month in salon colour procedures, which will enrich the hair industry by RM168mil nationwide on a monthly basis.

This will not include additional hair treatments for hair loss, repair and texture improvement which will cost an additional RM80 to RM200 per customer, depending on individual condition.

On medical bills, consultant physician and geriatrician Dr Rajbans Singh, concurs this will depend on how one is ageing.

“Someone who is ageing well will not need much. I have patients who only see me once a year for a regular check-up and the cost will just be a few hundred ringgit,” said Rajbans, 53.

This low-expense scenario, however, changes dramatically with the onset of disease.

“If one has multiple pathologies and is on multiple medications and requires frequent visits to the doctor, the cost could go up to almost RM1,000 a month in the private sector, up 10 times if the patient needs hospital admission.

“The cheaper option would be to resort to government healthcare, but the waiting time can be longer and the hospitals much busier,” he said.

Keeping each other company: Khoo Soo Bee, 74, (left)
and the oldest resident at St Mary’s, Tan Li Ping, 91,
became friends at the home.
For those who believe in setting up an umbrella before it rains, there is an option in DNA profiling. This can allow physicians to identify potential diseases that may occur. In seniors. Rajbans points out this can be used for more accurate prescription of supplements for health and wellness instead of relying on guesswork.

Depending on the number of genes and number of consultations, this can cost between RM2,500 and RM4,000, but it will be a one-off as genes don’t change.

Rajbans points out there is no quick-fix solution to the goal of ageing well and keeping medical costs low.

“A healthy lifestyle is the key. I tell patients that wellness is proactively doing things every day to prevent disease, whether it is in terms of nutrition, exercise, stress management or avoiding toxins,” he said.

Leading by example is Professor Emeritus Datuk Khairuddin Yusuf, the former department head of obstetrics and gynecology in Universiti Malaya Medical Center (UMMC) and author of Aging: A Beautiful Journey, published by UiTM Press.

Now 74, Khairuddin’s journey towards his current state of fitness began at age 32, two years after obtaining his fellowship from the Royal College of Surgeons in Scotland during the late 1980s.

The workload of applying for grants, writing books, conducting research and learning Chinese so that he could communicate with his patients filled his briefcase to the brim.

“I began to notice my health was far from good. So, I decided to get some exercise by going for regular swims at the pool in Kelab Syabas (now PJ Palms Sports Centre) for under RM2 per session,” said Khairuddin.

For all of life’s challenges, Khairuddin’s answer was not to turn to drink or drugs, but exercise. When he lost his first wife to cancer, he took up yoga. To combat the stresses of work, he took up judo. Both activities cost RM20 a month each.

By the time he turned 50, the expenditure for his sporting activities would match his “work hard, play harder” motto for this was when Khairuddin discovered the joys of mountain climbing.

One of his climbs would include forming an expedition to Mount Kilimanjaro that would cost the team US$20,000 (RM 60,469.90) as mountaineering gear at that time was mostly imported.

To better his skills, he also enrolled in the Himachel Pradesh Mountaineering School in India for personal tuition, paying RM2,000 to prepare himself to scale Mount Aconcagua in Argentina.

By the time he was near 60, the father of four children, who had also taken to competing in triathlons, would be the proud owner of a RM30,000 Velo bicycle.

But one angioplasty later, the former government servant who paid just RM17 for a procedure that would have easily come up to RM40,000 if done at a private hospital, was forced to decide on something a little more sedate by his loved ones.

Beauty regime: Way Tow enjoys a manicure in the comfort
of her own home attended by an Indonesian helper as
Ee Hup looks on.
As the golden rule of happy ageing revolves around pursuing things that make one happy, Khairuddin took private dancing classes, paying up to RM100 per session.

By the time he was ready to show off his twirls at dance competitions at age 68, he was paying the instructor up to RM800 a month in training sessions at his home.

It was worth it as out of 20 competitors, Khairuddin and his partner, a mutual friend of his second wife, came seventh in an international event.

Sandwiched between mountaineering, triathlons and dancing classes, Khairuddin also managed to slip in vocal lessons where he showed off his talents as an operatic tenor, singing in Spanish and Italian.

At one event, after his rendition of Beautiful Maria with the Puchong Orchestra in Shah Alam, some 20 girls came running after him for his autograph.

By the time, he was 70, the people from the Selangor Orchestra were requesting for him. Rising to the challenge, Khairuddin promptly engaged a voice coach. RM2,000 and eight months later, he was ready to give them his Spanish rendition of My Way.

Today, Khairuddin reckons that in addition to his fitness club fees of RM150 a month, an additional RM100 goes towards gym gear, which is equivalent, if not more than, the amounts that may go to maintaining a nicotine or booze habit with zero health benefits.

What of the elderly who will need care?

For Mei Heon, 39, who has opted to care for her parents Heon Ee Hup, 86, and So Way Tow, 83, it is their medical bills that make up the bulk of the expenses.

About two years ago, Heon’s father, Ee Hup suffered a stroke which took place in the same year her mother, Way Tow, sustained a fractured hip after slipping in the kitchen in the wee hours of the morning.

The bill for Way Tow’s private-hospital bill came up to RM18,000, the total for a two week stay. This would not include the cost of Ee Hup’s RM5,000 hearing aid and his monthly insulin injections and eye drops, which come up to some RM200 a month.

Incidentally, when Ee Hup came down with stroke, he was on holiday in Tibet, which meant he had to be treated there before flying back to Malaysia. In all, Ee Hup’s medical bill and air fare cost another RM20,000.

Though Heon is fortunate enough to work flexible hours as a wealth-accumulation adviser, she has to engage the services of a full-time maid for about RM700 a month to look after her parents when she is at work.

As the youngest of six siblings, Heon is able to share the expenses with her brothers and sisters.

But the crucial factor that would allow Ee Hup and his wife, Way Tow, to live in relative comfort in the cool interiors of their bungalow in Taman OUG is the former’s prudent habits with money as a businessman in his younger days.

“If my father had not invested his money in property, it would have been very hard for us his children financially,” said Heon who felt that people should seriously consider having medical insurance.

But for this doting daughter, it is not the expense, but the quality time with her folks that matters. No matter how busy, she makes time to take her parents for their morning exercise at the nearby park every Tuesday though she has bought both exercise bikes at home.

“For me, there will be no question of sending my parents to a nursing home, not after all that they have done for me,” said Heon who obtained her degree in actuarial science in Australia.

But when care for the elderly has to be centralised, owner of St. Mary’s Nursing Home, Sonia Jagit Kaur, 60, gave a frank calculation.

For RM1,800 a month, 12 workers ensure residents are given five square meals daily, that medication is managed and dispensed accordingly and residents are kept active and entertained with games and activities.

Those who can afford up to RM2,300 a month are entitled to a single room with a television, air-conditioning, attached bathroom and a double bed.

Costs are higher for bedridden patients who need full-time nursing care. A ripple mattress to help minimise bedsores can cost up to RM50 a day. Adult diapers are an extra RM300 a month, and changes are done three times a day. Those on tube feeding and urine catheters are charged RM60 per change.

Sonia said the rates are expected to rise in the next 20 years in line with inflation, though the challenge is not in keeping the books in the black or the residents content but in assuring relatives their loved ones are well cared for.

“Today’s generation is well-educated and they are naturally more demanding,” said Sonia who reports annual revenue of RM600,000 a year for the home.

Of the 58 residents residing in the 28-year-old nursing home, more than 20 are bedridden, six are Parkinson’s patients and another two, need round-the-clock care as they are in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s.

Sonia cited reasons why children see the placing of their elderly in a nursing home as a safer option. In serious cases, an elderly patient may be bedridden and require nursing and constant care, a daunting task for untrained care-givers.

“Rather than leave them home alone, they see it as a safer option to bring the elderly here. In some cases, the frightening experience of having a parent falling and hurting themselves while they are away at work has made them come to us,” she said.

For Tung Tong Sin, 79, it was the worry of his wife, Lim Char Boh, 78, an Alzheimer’s patient, wandering out of their home and getting lost that made him put her in St Mary’s.

“There are many things she does not know now. I worry she may get hurt when I have to go out,” he said.

Sonia also observes that certain parents, anxious that their children’s careers should progress, are adamant that they do not become the cause of interruption. Some have also expressed preference to be with their own age group as they feel staying home alone cuts them off socially.

Monday, May 20, 2013

DO OUR MINISTERS DESERVE TO BE PAID PEANUTS?

PETALING JAYA: Elected Members of Parliament can earn up to RM10,000 in monthly perks and allowances.

According to Statute Paper No. 235 of the Members of Parliament (Remuneration) Act 1980, MPs are afforded monthly allowances such as for entertainment (RM1,500), personal driver (RM1,200), travel (RM1,500) and telephone (RM900).

It said MPs are also paid an allowance of RM200 per day when they attend meetings in Parliament and RM150 when they attend any meeting, briefing, seminar or event organised by ministries or government agencies at the federal or state level that they are officially invited to.

Besides that, MPs can also claim, while on official duty, food allowances (plus 25% for tips) and funds for hotel room and laundry charges, parking and toll fees, and money for them to buy warm clothing and ceremonial attire.

Other perks MPs enjoy are free medical treatment for themselves, their spouse and children below 21 at government hospitals and clinics, computer, car and housing loans, free firearm and motor vehicle licences, as well as pension and gratuity for their services under certain terms and conditions.

(From the Star 20 May, 2013)



You know what they say - if you pay peanuts, you'll probably get monkeys working for you. Former Singapore PM Lee Kuan Yew was quoted making the remark in justifying the astronomically high salaries Singapore ministers earn.

Singapore pays top dollar to attract the best brains to run the government. This also reduces the incidence of corruption. Prior to 31 December 2010, Singapore Prime Minister's annual salary was S$3,072,200, while the pay of ministerial-grade officers ranged between $1,583,900 and $2,368,500. A Committee to Review Ministerial Salaries appointed on 21 May 2011 recommended wage reductions, with the Prime Minister's salary being reduced by 36% (including the abolition of his pension) to $2.2 million (about US$1.7 million). Nonetheless, the Prime Minister remains among the highest-paid political leaders in the world.

Do you think our Malaysian ministers deserve a pay rise? Or do you think their low salaries is commensurate with their (lack of) experience and qualifications?

Postscript: The Sarawak state legislative assembly has just approved a 3-fold pay rise for ministers and assemblymen, to be backdated to January 1, 2012. The last salary adjustment was in 1992.  Click here for the full article.


Chief Minister of Sarawak Abdul Taib Mahmud will now draw a salary much higher than PM Najib's. It's a matter of time before we see a review of ministerial remuneration. The reward for retaining control of the government after GE13 - a huge pay rise? A sure bet since the PM is also the Finance Minister! By the way, CM Taib is also Minister of Finance and Minister of Resource Planning and Environment. So much absolute power in the hands of one man!

Friday, May 17, 2013

WHAT DO WE WANT FROM OUR LEADERS?

Now that the PM has announced his cabinet, what do the people think of his choice of ministers and deputy ministers?

Perhaps before we answer the question, we should look at the criteria for evaluating a candidate running for political office.

To help us out, let's look at Brett and Kate McKay's article "The Four Qualities of a True Statesman". It's based on Prof Rufus Fears' extensive research on statesmanship. Did the PM use these qualities as a yardstick in picking his cabinet?

THIS IS WHAT WE WANT FROM OUR LEADERS

  • PRINCIPLES
  • A MORAL COMPASS
  • A VISION
  • AN ABILITY TO BUILD CONSENSUS TO ACHIEVE THAT VISION


A Bedrock of Principles

The statesman builds a platform on a foundation of firm, unchanging, fundamental truths that he believes at his very core comprises his overarching philosophy. In the face of changing times, opposition and challenges, this foundation will remain intact. A statesman may change the details of his policies and his methods, but only inasmuch as expedient tactics serve to further his bedrock principles in the long run.

A Moral Compass

A statesman does not govern by public opinion polls, but instead makes decisions by following his own moral compass that is rooted in a sense of absolute right and absolute wrong. He is not a relativist. When he believes something is wrong, he plainly says it is so and does everything in his power to fight against it. When something is right, he is willing to overcome any opposition to preserve and spread it.

The statesman is ambitious—he must be to obtain a position of power— but there are things he simply will and will not do to get to the top. He is a man of integrity; he speaks the truth. He leads by moral authority and represents all that is best in his countrymen.

A Vision

A statesman has a clear vision of what his country and his people can become. He knows where he wants to take them and what it will take to get there. Foresight is one of his most important qualities, because he must be able to recognize problems on the horizon and find solutions good for both the short term and long term. The statesman keeps in mind not only the here and now, but the world that future generations will inherit.

The Ability to Build a Consensus to Achieve that Vision

A politician may have a bedrock of principles, a moral compass and vision, but if he lacks the ability to build a consensus around them, his efforts to change policies, laws and the course of history will largely be in vain.

In enlisting others in government that serve with him to support his initiatives, he knows that their willingness to do so is based on the pressure they feel from their constituents to align themselves with the statesman’s vision. Thus, success ultimately hinges on his ability to convince his country’s citizens of the soundness of his philosophy.

To win their hearts, the statesman shuns media campaigns and instead harnesses the power of the written, and especially the spoken, word; he is a master orator. His lifelong study of great books and the lessons of history allow him to speak to the people with intelligent, potent, well-reasoned arguments.

Instead of tailoring his rhetoric to the public mood, he speaks to the very best that exists within people, understanding that powerful rhetoric can articulate, bring forth and activate sometimes deeply buried ideals. His authority derives from his belief in what he says. He does not make emotions soar and burn with empty promises, but instead keeps his word and does what he says he will do.

(Read the original article here.)


Let's look at our PM's new cabinet, and evaluate these ministers above using Prof Fears' criteria. By the way, include the PM as well in the evaluation.

If you have the time and interest, go to Amirul Ruslan's blog. He has taken the trouble to post links to wikipedia for background information on each of the ministers and deputy ministers. Don't be surprised to find nothing much mentioned about most of them. Yet we are supposed to accept them and trust them to lead the country of 29 million people.

And if the first public statements made by the PM and by the new Home Minister are anything to go by, the future doesn't augur well for the people of Malaysia, especially for those who did not vote for the ruling political party in the recent general elections.

Unbecoming of a PM to make such a remark. The people have a right to choose who they want.
He has no right to tell those who didn't vote for the ruling party to 'leave the country'. The country doesn't belong to him. 

Not a positive start for the new cabinet in winning over the people's confidence. And going by Prof Fears' criteria, how many cabinet ministers do you think made the cut? Start the countdown from 5. 4? 3? 2? 1? O?


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

HOW CAN WE WATCH THIS VIDEO AND NOT FEEL GUILTY?

Stuck in an ocean of trash
Anyone who views this video below and remains unaffected by it must have a heart of stone. I think we are all guilty in one way or another of contributing to the unrelenting, merciless pollution and destruction of this beloved home planet of ours.

One-third of the young birds on Midway Island die from eating plastic items which they thought was food. Imagine if these birds were human babies. Perhaps that is the only way we can truly understand the magnitude of the devastation we have wreaked on the environment and the countless millions of animals and birds we may have knowingly or unknowingly, directly or indirectly killed.


ASTRO Kasih volunteers must be commended on their recent efforts to clear underwater trash at at 14 dive sites surrounding the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park here from April 6-13. Altogether 134 divers from Malaysia as well as France, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, USA, Lithuania, Switzerland, Hong Kong and the Netherlands collected over three tons of marine debris, including plastic bottles and bags, fishing lines, nets, cans and tires.

Astro volunteer divers picking up tin cans, plastic bags 

Surely the least we can do is help by reducing our use of plastic and keeping our beaches clean. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

FOR MOTHERS EVERYWHERE - A TRIBUTE AND A PRAYER

My two gorgeous daughters - so proud of how they have turned out.
To my four grandchildren, may you grow up with all the right values your mother has instilled in you.

This video below is specially for my two daughters who are remarkable mothers in their own right. Two different and opposing ways of raising their children, but nonetheless, my grandchildren have grown up to be loving and caring - just like their moms! Oh, and smart too!



And to my dearest mother who raised six children on her own when she was widowed at the age of 29, I owe you a lifetime of gratitude for all your sacrifices in bringing me up.


And for all mothers everywhere, a prayer for you on this special day.



Saturday, May 11, 2013

REACTION TO GE13 RESULTS FROM ACROSS THE CAUSEWAY

The Straits Times (ST) is a Singapore English daily, the New Straits Times (NST) is a Malaysian English daily It is easy to confuse the two..



This morning I had an interesting chat with a group of Singapore friends. They had many questions to ask about the results of Malaysia's 13th General Elections held last Sunday 5 May. Were all the allegations of elections fraud true? Is the situation tense in Malaysia? Are the people happy with BN's win? Will Najib be the new PM for the next five years? What do the results mean for the country's future?

I was told that Singaporeans had been following the elections keenly. The Straits Times had dispatched a team of 15 correspondents and photographers to several key towns to provide up-to-the-minute reports and analyses of GE13.



Extract from the ST:

RARELY has there been an election campaign up north that has drawn so much attention from Singaporeans. Both online and off, in coffee shops and offices, Malaysia's general election has proved to be quite a talking point.

Part of it was simply due to the fact that the Barisan Nasional (BN) stronghold of Johor - Singapore's closest neighbour - was in play for the first time in decades.

Suddenly, the Malaysians who live in Singapore or who commute here for work became an important constituency. Johor chief minister Abdul Ghani Othman even spent half a day visiting Singapore during the campaign.

The other, bigger reason, was the possibility of a regime change.

(Click here to read more.)


This shouldn't come as a surprise as Singapore and Malaysia share a common history. Many Singaporeans have family members in Malaysia, many of the republic's corporate leaders were born in Malaysia, and thousands of Malaysians study and work in Singapore.

So how have Singaporeans reacted to the news that BN has won?

Going by the reports in the ST, the BN's win was generally welcomed as it meant Singapore-Malaysia ties would continue unaffected, and there would be no disruptions in business deals especially for Singapore companies that have invested heavily in the Iskandar region in Johor.

I am sure the Singapore PAP government is also relieved as the results send a subtle message to the people that it is not that easy for the opposition to topple the ruling party.

My Singapore friends praised the courage of Malaysians for uniting and standing up against what they see as injustice and corruption. I had to agree with them. Malaysians are no longer afraid to speak out against what they see as injustice and corruption. Riot police, tear gas and water cannons no longer stop them. The threat of arrest no longer cows them into silence.

The massive crowd that turned up at Kelana Jaya stadium on 8 May to protest against the GE13 results. Despite having only two days to organize the rally, the turnout was beyond expectations, thanks to social media, 

They say there is strength in numbers. This is so true in the Malaysian context. That is where the courage springs from - the knowledge that there are hundreds of thousands who share the same aspirations and want the same things for themselves and their children. That they are not alone. That is what has galvanized the people to come together as one united front to press for justice.

Power will always belong to the people. History has repeatedly shown this to be so.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

ELDERLY COUPLE IN TUSSLE OVER OWNERSHIP OF THE MATRIMONIAL HOME

Husband See Fong Mun vs wife Chan Yuen Lan over what the judge wryly referred to
as 'an old folks' home.

(This news article from The Straits Times dated 8 May is posted here in full as it is of interest to senior couples. It concerns a court case of husband vs wife over claims to rightful ownership of property. Such cases are not that uncommon these days. Read why the judge ruled in favour of the husband. To access other ST articles online, subscribe to ST.)

Husband wins claim over $20m Chancery Lane bungalow
By K. C. Vijayan Senior Law Correspondent

A TUSSLE by a couple in their 80s over who owned a $20 million bungalow in Chancery Lane has been settled in favour of the husband by the High Court.

Justice Choo Han Teck found retired businessman See Fong Mun, 86, had paid for the house that was bought in 1983 but registered in the name of his wife Chan Yuen Lan, 88.

At the heart of the issue was whether the property belonged to the person who paid for it or the person in whose name it was registered.

The case helps make clear that a registered legal owner of a property paid for by another can be treated as a trustee of the property for the payer, who is the real owner of the benefit from the property. To arrive at the decision, the court will look at all the circumstances, including the intention of the parties at the time of purchase and from whom the monies came, and decide if it was being held either in a resulting or constructive trust.

In the case of the Chancery Lane bungalow, Justice Choo found that it was held in a resulting trust because from the start, the couple had both intended for the property to belong to Mr See.

Three days before the purchase was made in 1983, Madam Chan signed a power of attorney authorising her husband and their eldest child Cliff to take charge and manage the house.

But in April 2011, she revoked the 1983 power of attorney, a move that prompted her husband to seek a High Court order to nullify her action.

In his written judgment released yesterday, Justice Choo noted wryly in the opening sentence: "This is a case about an old folks' home - a very large and expensive house."


The double-storey house sits on a plot of land just over 20,000 sq ft, and is a good class bungalow in an upscale neighbourhood.

The couple married in 1957 and Madam Chan stopped working as a hairdresser after marriage. They have three children, aged 55, 53 and 51. The now-retired Mr See was the sole breadwinner except for one year, and Madam Chan depended on the household income he gave her, the judge noted.

Mr See was a self-made millionaire who started two companies. In 1983, when he turned 55, he bought the bungalow with money put together from various sources, such as his Central Provident Fund savings and a $290,000 loan from Madam Chan. Justice Choo found the loan was repaid and could not be considered as her share of the purchase of the house.

Madam Chan, defended by lawyer Simon Jones, had also argued, among other things, that Mr See had bought the house as a gift as he felt "guilt-ridden" by an extramarital affair with his secretary.

But the judge found the overall evidence to be very weak and was not convinced that Mr See bought the bungalow "out of sheer conscience or moral responsibility".

"A man nearing retirement age who had just fallen in love with another woman was unlikely in the circumstances to scrape together a $1.8 million fund from multiple sources to buy a house... as a gift to his wife," he noted.

Mr See, represented by lawyers Lim Seng Siew and Lai Swee Fung, claimed his wife had asked for the property to be put in her name "as the husbands of all her friends had done so and she wished to flaunt it to her friends". Mr See agreed in exchange for her written agreement confirming that he was the sole and ultimate owner.

The veracity of his claim was disputed by two sons, who were on opposing sides.

"As neither account was inherently unbelievable, my finding could only be based largely on credibility," said Justice Choo, who found the older son Cliff to be a "more measured and candid witness".

He also noted that Mr See's affair did not lead him to divorce his wife, and the house has remained their matrimonial home. Madam Chan had lived in it since 1983 until the lawsuit started last year, when she moved out, but not at his behest.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

ARE SENIORS TRULY THE HAPPIEST DEMOGRAPHIC AS SURVEYS SEEM TO SHOW?

The new 'old' do not fit the negative stereotype image of seniors who are frail, senile and decrepit. Definitely time for new labels for the new 'old'.

(Thanks, Missy Joe, for pointing Seniorsaloud to this article from canada.com in response to our earlier blog post "Time for New Labels for the 'New' Old" of 23 March)

Seniors are the happiest demographic in Canada, according to a survey released Monday, with people 66 and older outshining all other age groups in terms of overall contentedness, optimism about aging, the sense that “age is just a number,” and the belief that you should never stop living life to the fullest.

Despite this positive outlook, however, the study finds seniors continue to battle unflattering stereotypes about loss of independence, reduced mobility, diminished mental capacity and inability to keep physically active. In fact, nine in 10 Canadians associate aging with something bad.

Click here to read more...

Like Canadians, seniors in the United States are generally happy with their lives as the survey below shows. Read the full article in US Today.



What about here in Singapore? Are seniors here happy? If this government report is anything to go by, the answer is Yes! The government continues to promote programs that ensure future generations of older Singaporeans enjoy an active, healthy and productive lifestyle as they age. That makes for happy seniors anywhere in the world.

Friday, May 3, 2013

MY FELLOW MALAYSIANS...LETTER FROM RAFIZI


(With the 13th Elections just two days away, this letter below is a timely read. Please share with your friends if the sentiments expressed below resonate with you. Rafizi Ramli belongs to a new breed of young Malaysians that we want in our next government.)

My fellow Malaysians

I was born in a small wooden house surrounded by rubber trees about 36 years ago. My first recollection of life was that of a water well because my house did not have a running water supply until much later.

Like many kampung Malay kids, I grew up not having much of anything. My worldview was shaped by my surrounding. Since some of my elderly cousins became teachers, I wanted to go one step ahead of them – so I started my young life wanting to be a university lecturer (which was the coolest job I could think of when I was eight years old).

Although life was difficult and we were always conscious that we wouldn’t have enough to go around, I grew up with full of pride. My parents raised us not to be apologetic about anything. From a very young age, I learnt that a man’s mortal enemy is his own self pity.

Thus, I grew up in a family environment that was full of energy and positivity. Living a dignified honest life on my own terms becomes an objective that I pursued doggedly from a young age.

We are, after all, the master of our own fate and fortune.

It is this belief that forms the bedrock of my conviction that for Malaysia to progress, we must heal from the self-inflicted wound of mistrust, mediocrity and mismanagement.

After four decades of divisive policies that favour only the well connected elites of the society, the cancerous downside effects on the society’s morale and self-confidence are all too apparent. The very prerequisite that can make this country great again – pride in ourselves – diminishes by the day.

The Umno elites predictably resort to scaremongering and running down the very group they claim to protect i.e. the Malays.

Every day, the Malays are being fed with a concoction of lies that they cannot survive on their own without the government’s protection. The good Malays were systematically replaced by the mediocre Malays in every sphere when the Umno-led BN government ditched meritocracy in exchange for mediocracy – it was no longer skills, qualifications or business acumen that get you a big break, it was which Umno or BN ministers you know.

The unintended consequences of such selfishness and shortsightedness were devastating to nation-building efforts. A culture of mediocrity and mistrust perpetuated by the Umno-led BN government finally allows for mismanagement of the nation’s wealth to go unchecked.

I have always advocated that a change to a needs-based policy (from race-based) is not only morally right to ensure fairness to all, more importantly it is a necessity to instil pride and goodwill in every single Malaysian so that we can move on confidently.

It is not fair to burden the young Malaysians with the baggage of the past.

They have every right to grow up believing that they can achieve their fullest potentials under the Malaysian sun if they are morally upright, honest, industrious and smart. They deserve a society that can feel good about itself, without the bitterness of mistrust and racial connotations. They need to have the confidence that the government will take care of the most vulnerable groups in the society regardless of background and affiliations.

Our young Malaysians deserve to grow up in a positive environment that thrives on the utmost confidence we have in ourselves and our capabilities, only then can we break free from the ghost of the past which inhibited Malaysia’s potential all this while.

We have a lot of work to do if we hope to accomplish this. We need to fix the schools because fixing the schools means we fix the society. We have to ensure that the good ones in the society are given the best opportunity to soar to the sky while we build a net to catch those less fortunate so that no one is left behind.

Malaysians have to look at each other differently. Instead of looking at our differences, we are better off cherishing the common fondness that binds us together – our colourful food does more justice as a testimony to our ability to appreciate each other than we ever dare to give credit to ourselves.

A lot of my friends said that I am a foolish dreamer. They taunt me that there is a fine line between idealism and foolishness. Yet each time detractors belittle my dream of a better Malaysia for all, I am constantly reminded of the beautiful words of a song from the past:

“You are still so young to travel so far, Old enough to know who you are, Wise enough to carry the scar, Without any blame … ”

Malaysia is a young nation. It has gone through a lot and the experience accelerated its maturity. It may have erred in the past, but its future is the brightest on this side of the horizon. Let us look forward to that future and leave the past behind without any blame.

Looking back, I am ever grateful that I was able to cast my inferiority earlier on in my life. I could because I had a good support system and a good education.

The future of our society lies in our classroom and with our young people. I am glad that while I may have pursued a different professional career, the yearning for teaching and knowledge never dies. Deep inside I have always been a student and a teacher that allowed me to go through a journey of humility to see life from different perspectives.

We must ensure that education reforms become an obsession of our next government because every child deserves a chance to cast away his/her inferiority and inhibition earlier on in life, so that they can do wonders later on.

As we go to the polling station this Sunday, I hope my fellow Malaysians hold our heads high and look to a brighter future. The days when we are put down by our own government shall be over. We shall be the master of our nation’s destiny and fortune.

I may be relatively young, foolish and na├»ve to hope for better things for Malaysia. I don’t pretend to know what my fellow Malaysians want, but I offer my youth, energy and undying love to make it a better home for everyone.

Because we owe it to our young people and ourselves to put Malaysia where she deserves.

Rafizi Ramli, 5 May 2013
Rafizi is the candidate for the Pandan parliamentary seat in the coming general elections.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

WORK BEYOND 65? WHY NOT?

There was a time not too long ago when workers looked forward to their retirement at the age of 55, before the official retirement age in Malaysia was raised to 58, and then to the current 60. I recall many of my former colleagues in the teaching profession opting for early retirement at 40!

For the private sector in Malaysia, the retirement age has remained at 55. This is set to change when the Minimum Retirement Act 2012 comes into effect on 1 July 2013. In Singapore, under the Retirement and Re-employment Act which was implemented in 2012, employers must offer re-employment to workers turning 62, at least up to 65.

Straits Times 2 May

Whatever the retirement age, there will always be mixed views from the stakeholders. The government can't please all parties concerned, and compromises have to be made.

Employers see the new minimum retirement age in terms of higher costs in payroll and healthcare provisions. Fresh job seekers see fewer opportunities open to them while ambitious young professionals see a longer wait for career promotions.

A Straits Times reader expresses her views on the employment of older workers

What about older workers? Their views about retirement have certainly changed. While there are still many who can't wait to clock out for the last time at their place of work, a growing number want to continue working as long as possible. And it's not just to keep themselves physically and mentally busy. More importantly, they need the financial security that a steady job offers. As it is, many are struggling to cope with the rise in the cost of living.

Whatever retirement savings they may have accumulated over the years are insufficient to see them through the next 20 or more years. The longer life expectancy of 76 is both a boon and a bane. There are housing mortgages and insurance premiums to pay, car loans and credit card debts to settle. Many still have to support their elderly parents and finance their children's further education.

Mr Lim is representative of baby boomers who have to work for as long as possible to make ends meet.

Older workers simply can't afford to retire at 55, 60 or 65. For young people who oppose raising the retirement age, be thankful that your working parents are self-supporting, and not a financial burden to you.

(For more articles on older workers and re-employment, type the key words in the Seniorsaloud blog search box in the right hand column.)


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

TWO COMPANIES WITH A HEART FOR OLDER WORKERS

In conjunction with Labour Day today, I would like to single out for special mention two companies, one in Singapore, the other in Malaysia. Both have a soft spot for older workers when it comes to hiring staff. 

Unlike many companies that pay lip service to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices, Singapore's FairPrice supermarket chain wants to be known as an age-friendly company when hiring workers. Indeed, CEO Seah Kian Peng, 51, is proud to say that more than 40% of the supermarket's workforce is aged 50 years and above. The oldest employee is 71.

Source: The Straits Times

That's not all. Every Tuesday is Senior Citizens' Day. Any customer who is 60 and above gets a discount on their purchases. You don't need to apply for a discount card as long as you look 60 or older.

FairPrice takes its corporate social responsibilities seriously. In 2008, it expanded its CSR programme with the establishment of the FairPrice Foundation, a registered charity, bringing the supermarket one step further towards achieving its vision to be "a world-class retailer with a heart".

Lam Soon Edible Oils, a public-listed company in Malaysia did the country proud by winning the 2011 AARP International Best Employers for Workers Over 50 Award. This award recognises top 15 non-US companies that have demonstrated outstanding workplace policies and best HR practices for their mature employees. 

Whang receiving the AARP award for
Best Employers For Workers Over 50 (Source: The Star)
Says Lam Soon executive chairman Whang Shang Ying, “We have a total number of 1,456 employees and 20.1% of them are over 50 years of age. We believe that the older employees possess great experience and are able to contribute significantly to the company.

“For example, older employees in each function are designated subject matter experts and play a useful role as facilitators and trainers. Therefore, we provide a positive working environment to the older employees such as flexible working hours and opportunities to remain employed beyond the statutory retirement age,” 

Older workers certainly have much to contribute in terms of knowledge, experience and skills. Companies like FairPrice and Lam Soon know the value of having a pool of human resources that cut across demographic divides. Age diversity in staff employment can only enrich the working culture and ultimately the ROI of a company.

If more companies changed their negative mindset about hiring older workers, those aged 50 and above would have reason to celebrate Labour Day.