The effective retirement age should be…


Daniel Goh of the Worker’s Party thinks that the effective retirement age is 67.

I say that it is wrong – the effective retirement age should be – void. There should be no retirement age. But are people willing to accept that?

The good MP reminded the house that it was back in 1993 that Parliament desired the retirement age of 67 to be achieved in a decade. (I have not fact checked this, but I shall assume that this claim is accurate.)

Perhaps Goh has forgotten how difficult it was to raise the retirement age – in the past 20 years, it wasn’t just the employers who resisted the change. The employees themselves would rather retire as soon as they can, collect their pensions and golden handshakes and call it a day. Each time the government raised the issue of raising the retirement age, it was faced with protests. Look no further than the Facebook comments, even today you’ll hear people going “Wah, gahmen want us to work till we die ah?”

It was only in the last two decades that we learnt of the ills of early retirement (the dangers of Alzheimer’s) and it was only in the last decade that very strong growth in our economy allowed us to have jobs that are varied, interesting and last sufficiently long. It would have been very premature to allow for mature workers to compete with the young ones when the country’s economics is not yet ready. Furthermore, there wasn’t all this fancy technology we have today that enabled different classes of mature workers to do their work more efficiently, easily…or even at all.

Goh’s variety of criticism shows an under appreciation of the issues underlying the Singapore economy leading up to the 21st century.

Goh also calls for lowering of CPF Life Minimum Payout age to 60.

Well, that’s good. Except that he is 5 years late. The boys (and one girl) at Hong Lim Park have been calling for CPF payouts to be made repeatedly, and they want it to be released at 55..even better.

What problem are we trying to solve when we are asking for earlier CPF payouts? It must be for better cash flow and meeting with living expenses. Would an earlier payment of $700 a month be useful if one is making an income? Or would it be more harmful, if say you live longer than you expect and your retirement funds run out?

If Goh genuinely wants to solve the problem of tight cash flows and living expenses, it would be better done in proposing policies that solve the problem of resistance to hiring (or working), or to the WorkFare components. Merely tweaking an age group for payouts up and down isn’t a very compelling argument.

As the country continues to try and tackle the problems related to ageism, we need the working class to belief that they themselves do not have an expiry date. The time is ripe for workers of all ages to compete with each other strongly, to put up a good fight. To grow the economic pie together so that more can get a richer share.



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