Friday, November 23, 2018


Seven years ago, I had one of the best Chinese vegetarian meals ever in terms of value: good taste, low prices and rich variety. I had blogged about it then as one of the staff volunteers there asked me to help publicize the food court. Today the blog article popped up among my Facebook Memories. A good reminder that I should post an update for those who have yet to drop by for a meal. This place has been around for decades. Yet many of my friends have not heard of it.

A vegetarian's food paradise! I gave up counting the number of dishes after 40. Strictly no meat, eggs, garlic or onion.
A feast for the eyes and stomach, but only if you are a vegetarian. The longest queue is for the mixed dishes with rice.
All this for only RM8 in 2011 when this photo was taken. Prices have gone up but still low compared to other food outlets in the area. 
The daily menu at a glance. The temple marks festival days on the Chinese calendar with free meals but donations are welcome.
Best time to be there - before 11.30am. You avoid the lunch time crowd and the long queues at the cashiers.
The scene at 12pm. Difficult to find a seat unless you are alone. Besides locals, expats and backpackers eat here too. Diners have to clear their own plates after eating. The staff here are all volunteers.
All the vegetables and fruits are organically grown on the temple's farm.
Once you enter the temple premises, it's a short pleasant walk past a rock garden with a lotus pond and mini-waterfalls to the food centre at the end of the corridor.
From the outside: This ornate temple, opposite Corus Hotel and a stone's throw from KLCC, hides a bustling food court waiting to be discovered by those in search of a satisfying vegetarian meal.
Besides rice dishes, there are stalls selling noodles, salad, fruits, buns and drinks. When in season there are durians for sale. Everything comes from the temple's organic farm. I have lunch there whenever I am in the vicinity (which is often!) and tapau (take away) for dinner. The two meals usually cost less than Rm10. If I am early enough, I get free soup and fruit dessert. Parking is a problem. You can take the lrt to KLCC and walk there, or take any bus that goes to KLCC. Get off at Corus Hotel and walk across the overhead bridge. 

So now you know where to go for your next organic vegetarian meal, do spread the word. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


PM Tun Mahathir, 93, has jokingly said the new retirement age in Malaysia will be 95 in 2020 when he hands over his premiership to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. He may have said it in jest but at the rate our demographics are changing, Malaysia will reach ageing nation status by 2030, and we will see more people working well into their 70s.

When the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) was established in 1951, life expectancy then, believe it or not, was 55! With the retirement age set at 55, lump sum EPF withdrawals would be more than sufficient to sustain contributors through the short retirement period. We now know those figures were way off the mark. Advances in science, medicine and technology have drastically extended life span. Life expectancy in Malaysia currently stands at 75, and is set to rise further in the years ahead. 60 is the new 40, and living to a ripe old age of 80 and beyond is fast becoming the norm.

This begs the question - do we have enough in our EPF savings to see us through an additional 15 to 20 years? For the majority the answer is No. The M40 (middle income group) is arguably the worst off as they are not eligible for welfare aid unlike the B40 (lower income group). They also have more financial commitments such as these below:
  • loans to service (housing loan, car loan)
  • their children's higher education 
  • their healthcare expenses
  • support for their elderly parents
Do check out what these senior citizens from M40 have to say about their financial status, and what we can learn from them at this link. Their profiles are typical of most retirees.

Upon reaching 55, most retirees would opt for lump sum withdrawals. They have worked hard and waited patiently for the day when they would have the means to turn their dreams and plans into reality, whether it is to pay off debts, renovate the house, take a well-deserved holiday abroad or start a business. Unfortunately, going by EPF data, most end up depleting their retirement savings within a few years mainly through mismanagement of their money.

How much should the average retiree have in order to avoid getting into debt? EPF puts it at RM228,000. More than half of their members have way less than this amount (see infographic below). EPF has come up with some good advice on how to live a simple and sensible life in retirement to stretch savings. If a retiree finds himself unable to cope financially, he should pay a visit to AKPK (Agensi Kaunseling dan Pengurusan Kredit) for some free advice on how to manage his limited financial resources. Or refer to AKPK's special presentation for SeniorsAloud members at this link.

Read the full article at this link.
To reduce the risk of retired contributors using up all their EPF savings within a few years, EPF introduced several withdrawal packages (see below). There is also the option of leaving the entire sum with EPF until age 100 and still enjoy dividends. At dividend rates of 6% and above since 2011, it makes sense for retirees to let their savings remain for as long as possible with EPF. The dividend for 2017 was 6.9%.

Read the full article at this link.
Many of my friends who were teaching in public schools back in the 1980s opted for early retirement when they reached their 40s. As long as they had served a minimum of 10 years, they were eligible for a gratuity and pension benefits as stipulated under Section 12A Act 227/239. Today early retirement at 40+ would be unthinkable for most people. Given the rising cost of living and a host of financial commitments, few can afford to enjoy full retirement. The mantra is work, work, work for as long as possible.

Acknowledging the plight of retirees and those nearing retirement age, the Pakatan Harapan government has sought to increase job opportunities by proposing tax incentives for employers hiring older Malaysians. It's a long shot from proposal to implementation. Whether this will make a significant difference remains to be seen.
Source: Budget 2019
One thing is for certain - we can expect the retirement age to continue going up. In developed countries such as Germany and Japan, the retirement age is moving towards 70. Former PM of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, famously said that 'retirement means death', and was in favour of doing away with the retirement age.

As the country's biggest employer, the government finds it a challenge to fund pension payouts to a growing pool of retired civil servants and beneficiaries that is expected to reach 836,000 in 2019 and would cost KWAP (Kumpulan Wang Persaraan) a whopping RM26.56 billion. This is one of the main reasons for raising the retirement age - to enable both retirees and pensioners to work longer and accumulate sufficient savings to be self-supporting in old age.
Read the full article at this link.
Older Malaysians too want to work for as long as they are able. The family structure has changed so drastically that parents can no longer expect their adult children to support them in their old age. Family size has shrunk, and with the grown children moving out to work or settle elsewhere, retired couples are often left to fend for themselves.

The falling fertility rate at 1.9 is the lowest on record and below the replacement rate of 2.1. This means a shrinking of the young work force. This shortage of young workers will have to be met by an increase in technology, in the recruitment of foreign workers and in opening jobs to people in the 60 to 65 age group.

So, whichever way we look at the situation, there is definitely a need for older workers to return to the work force, and for the retirement age to be raised. The likelihood of doing away with a retirement age will gain traction in the years ahead. Let's just hope it won't reach a situation where we have to work till we drop dead!