No retirement in Singapore: We work till we die!

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My colleague Jason Lim requested me to blog this piece of opinion.

Quote
“A few weeks ago, I met a friend who retired after a successful career. He now spends his time with his wife who was retrenched a year ago. The couple have 2 children and are looking forward to having grand children. He told me that retirement is the best part of his life which was “quite stressful” when he was climbing the corporate ladder.

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He told me he found those articles that criticise retirement by calling retirees “time wasters”, “idlers” and “useless” very insulting because he feels they are directed at him asking him to give up the best part of his life.

The real tragedy is so many Singaporeans who have worked hard all their lives are forced to continue working when they are aged and employed in menial jobs for very low pay. The PAP govt is trying its best to deliver this (idea) “work until you die” future to ordinary Singaporeans by asking you to be “better, faster, cheaper”…. and “work forever”….

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Many Singaporeans have no choice, under the PAP leadership, but to accept that most among us have to work until the day they die. This is something considered inhumane in other countries but is a policy goal of the PAP govt and the state controlled media goes all out to get us to accept it by telling us that it is a “waste to retire”, “retirement is idling”… and promote senior Lee’s notion that retirement means death. ( He says he will die if he stops working.)

The old folks that are working today were part of an obedient workforce that created the Singapore economic “miracle” in the 70s and 80s when Singapore’s economy grew rapidly and the workforce ranked number one in the world for more than two decades.

Today some members of this highly productive number one workforce have to continue working in their seventies as the PAP govt takes credit for Singapore’s economic success by paying its people in govt the highest salaries in the world and forgets the workforce that made all the sacrifices – a workforce that never went on strike, accepted long hours, worked the 3 shifts, took reduced benefits and CPF reductions to keep Singapore competitive.”

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The truth is the govt is selling the “never retire” idea not so that you can have a happier life but to solve other problems. A large segment of the population work for low wages and will never be able to retire at a proper age and have to keep working until they are very old. The PAP govt has been extending the CPF withdrawal age forcing Singaporeans to work until an advanced age and locking up bigger sums by raising the minimum sum and through schemes like CPF Life.

As a principle, the PAP wants ordinary Singaporeans to shoulder all retirement responsibility themselves without govt help. In a socio-enomomic system that has the highest income gap among developed countries, many workers don’t even make enough to keep up with the rising cost of living let alone save for retirement. Unless the system changes, many will not have enough savings and CPF to ever retire.

Today, we see many aged cleaners, tissue paper sellers and old folks who struggle to get by collecting aluminium cans from bins, the sad thing is we see it so often and have gotten used to it.

Many don’t think about it until someone from China or Phillipines points it out to us …. a scene often repeated is one in which a tourist from China sits at one of our hawker centers to savor our local delights only to get a shock when a frail aged Singaporean comes by to clean the table – something he never expects to see in a first world country. He looks at his Singaporean friend for an answer but got this “what’s the big deal” look.

Many Singaporeans have no choice, under the PAP leadership, but to accept that most among us have to work until the day they die. Unquote

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About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Singaporean Chinese living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I also share interesting jokes, stories or anecdotes and observations on my blog. Thanks for visiting.
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24 Responses to No retirement in Singapore: We work till we die!

  1. Alan Wong says:

    How come nobody is taking our PAP Govt to task for making the empty promise of a Swiss standard of living for Singaporeans ?

    Remember GCT make that promise in his capacity as Prime Minister of Singapore and not in his personal capacity, and therefore our Govt should still be held accountable for such promises.

    Otherwise our PAP govt is good only for making empty promises ?

    • The PAP govt was at it’s best when it first started to rule us. In the 60s to 80s they were doing an excellent job. Later they got too greedy and started all kinds of schemes such as using ways and means to lock up citizens’ CPF monies refusing to return to the rightful owners which is wrong and immoral. Increase their salaries to the highest on this planet. After getting a third in pay cut our PM is still paid the highest in the world! Now everything involves money. When u get warded in hospital they ONLY worry whether u can pay or not? Not worry abt your health or well being. Money concern comes first. When u use your own CPF money to pay for the medical treatment, you will be charged “admin fee!”. To use your own money and you are charged for a fee! This fact tells you what type of govt we having now. It shows clearly the kind of “money face” govt we have elected and put in place. Better open our eyes and look around what they are doing and how they run this place! Totally no feeling or concern for the citizens’ welfare. This is sad but the truth. Will this govt last? Let the citizens of this country decide in the next GE. Only time will tell.

      • Alwi says:

        We already reached a Swiss standard of living, when we became greedy, U turned and went for Saudi royalties standard of living and end up Somalia standard of living. Just like a fox running after a rabbit and end up stuck,in the hole. I see Muslim families spending on Haj with an entourage of 6,mother in law,father in law,two kids and the couples. This package easily cost more than $100k

        • We do not aim for Saudi or Somalia standards of living. We just want a normal comfortable life without the so many indirect forms of taxes i.e. GSTs, PUB water n electricity taxes, WC shit surcharge – if u have two toilets u pay double, ERPs even though u take taxis, 60 cents per entry for poor man transport m/bike which used to be 60 cts for the whole day in the whole of Sg, all kinds of fines if u not careful(you litter u kena fine $200 and park on yellow lines another $100, u smoke anyhow also kena $200 so your $1,000 a month salary is finished how to survive? You borrow from loansharks also problem. Now you know why so many go to Bedok Reservoir to commit suicide? Be prepared to pay admin fee whenever u go to any govt dept or stat board, COEs, maid levy if u need a maid to look after ur bedridden parents, all kinds of school fees and charges etc etc.Once you leave your flat just be prepared to keep paying non stop until u go gila. $1,000 salary can survive according to them. Who are they bluffing?
          Most of us citizens are hardworking lot. We also don’t want free handouts. The problem is that it’s the other way round. They keep squeezing us dry in all kinds of schemes and ideas on their minds. Even your own life savings in your CPF also they want to deny which is your rightful money.
          Those days when you reach 55 yrs old you got back your CPF ( still working of course cuz u can’t retire in Sg at all with everything costs money) and you go for Haj which is important in your faith. It’s every Muslim’s wish to fulfil this obligation once in their lifetime. Now it’s not possible with the govt “keeping” it for you. You only get it after 65 yrs in small installments of few hundreds a mth. It’s not easy for you to fulfill that duty. That is sad isn’t it? As for those Chinese usually they will keep it for their own funeral expenses so as not to burden their children. Now it’s no longer possible. The promise of retirement funds at age 55 yrs is blatantly broken when we entered the CPF more than 20 to 30 yrs ago. So what to talk about the promised “Swiss” std of living ?
          You will only get back your CPF in a lump sum only if you give up your pink IC. Then only they got no choice but to return it to you. Many are planning this way.
          I envy those PRs who can go back to their country after retirement withdrawing all their CPF and live comfortably after making their pot of gold here whilst enjoying all the benefits ie national security but no need to serve NS and reservists. Citizens had to. PRs are laughing all the way to their bank. They also laugh at us suckers! In view of what I just said are we not second class citizens in our own land of birth? Those PRs when they retire are so much better off than us stuck here with our CPF locked up! If the PR is a Muslim he could use his full CPF for Haj whereas you as a citizen can’t follow him likewise. You understand now what I meant by second class citizen in this context? Do you not agree with what I said? Think over whether I just said nonsense or the stark truth ?

          • Alwi says:

            Who don’t want a normal comfortable life without the so many indirect forms of taxes. Indonesia roads are not all free,I name you a few of the toll operators in Indonesia,Jasa Marga,Marga Mandala Sakti,Jasa Marga, Jalan Tol Lingkar Luar Jakarta, & Jalan Lingkar Barat, Are Indonesian richer than Sporeans?

            Even Malaysian roads are not all free and I don’t need to elaborate on it as many know about PLUS.Lets take a tour to Israel, Highway 6 , widely known as the Trans-Israel Highway or Cross-Israel Highway , “Trans Israel Highway”, is a major electronic toll highway in Israel. The highway was officially dedicated as the Yitzhak Rabin Highway. Even poor Philipine do have road toll, currently, the Philippines only have six toll roads, all on the main Island of Luzon.What I mean to say is toll is not uniquely Spore.

            .Yes the next thing close to Sporeans hearts the maid levy,lets take a tour to Malaysia,how much are the average Joe paid in Malaysia? The recent ruling the maid minimum pay is RM700, some local factory workers are still paid RM700 per month. So only Sporeans have children,bedridden parents? Yes most of Spore citizens are hardworking if your compare labour law working hours of 42hrs to 44hrs. {I’ve seen Telecom officers in Datsun pickup in the 70th peeping at Labrador Park,yes they work hard crawling for telephone wires behind the bushes}

            Ask any Bangla workers how many hours of work they clocked everyday,if we called Sporeans as hardworking and I don’t know what to call this Bangla who do two permanent jobs. Please,who don’t want free handouts? Anybody who don’t want it,just email me I’ll be in any part of Spore within an hour to collect it.

            Without CPF scheme,how many Sporeans can save for old age and housing? Not everybody has the discipline to save,except for the unique,special well disciplined individual and I feel sorry for them as they got dragged into it too.

            For your information Haj is only compulsory for those who could afford it and even if one could afford it there is a quota,Mecca could not absorb more than three millions of pilgrims on the annual Haj and there are 2.2Billion Muslims in the the world. Yes you can collect your CPF when you surrender your pink IC,that is why I painstakingly point out about FT,they came and left with their monies,this is what Sporeans should do,regionalised,go out and comeback. This is what Swiss standard of living is all about. There a lot of opportunities in this world. Ironically if you travel to Silicon valley and did a head count,check how many Sporeans are there compare to Malaysians and zoom closer to Australia,there are a lot of Malaysians.My point is that Sporeans are too pampered and that is why they called Spore a NANNY state.

            You either use Spore strong Sing Dollars to buy assets in less developed countries or you go to a rich country and bring their monies back. You’ll never be rich working and living in Spore.

            We can put a new government in Singapore and thing won’t change,Spore is too small So the issue of saving for the cost of burial,its not uniquely Sporeans if you look at India. Cremation with wood costs Rs 2,500, an LPG fired or an electric cremation costs Rs 250 at the corporation crematorium. This is a much cheaper option. The church make small pigeon hole vaults, like done in Milagres cemetery so that the costs of burial (of the ashes) can come down considerably,’to reduce strain on the cemetery land which is fast disappearing due to permanent graves.

            Yes talking about National Service our Northern neighbors like Thailand and Malaysia do have their own version of National Service and they accept FT and PR and I never hear them complaining,maybe they are dumb unlike Sporeans. To put an impact on PAP is stark simple don’t spent and they’ll cry outright. But since Sporeans are so use to modern comfort,the ball is in the PAP field. I’m not a PAP or NTUC kaki,they done a disservice to me,but fact can’t be denied. I thrive and enjoy my livelihood and countdown the days I’ll be jungle trekking in my 4WD. Sorry to differ,I play hard ball and blacklisted in Gov agencies.

  2. Ali Baba 27th thief says:

    …without prejuidice @Alan Wong…I can still remember that promise made…but he did deliver the Swiss standard of living…but for a few thousand past and current top civil servant…he did not promised the nation and its citizens the Swiss standard of living. Therefore, get real…in politics saying to the people, this is what I will do is one thing and delivering it is another…so many promises made like collecting your CPF at age 55 but today you tell me!
    After all these years, no Swiss standard, might as well promise yourself and be kind to yourself first, cast your precious vote to the right party when the time comes and your one vote can make all the difference with some changes as you can witnessed now after the last election.

    • Swiss standard of living? You must be joking? It’s like comparing heaven and hell – worlds’ apart. You buy that story? The Swiss are so much better than us. We are still struggling and making ends meet! For another 10 yrs I don’t know if that comical stmt is possible? Oh yes we are the 3rd richest country in the world. For whom? Certainly not for all those senior citizens u see around you doing back breaking work for only a pittance! What a sham! They don’t feel shameful. But I do feel shameful that our older folks are eking a living no worst than a beggar! Is that a measure of a country’s wealth status? Sigh !

  3. Anonymous says:

    GCT got the GDP, COL and Standard of Living all mixed up.

    • How can he got mixed up? He is supposed to be brilliant scholar – the best talent we can find here in tiny Sg! That is political salesmanship to win votes! Just like an used car dealer who will promise you the moon if only to convince you to part your money to buy that junk! It’s the same here. Now you see the real reality around you. You have eyes to see for yourself. Just open wide to see for yourself! Is it Swiss standard of living or not? Who is he bluffing? There will be more as the income gap widens and the cost of living keeps going up with our pay stagnant! Mark my words.

  4. An excellent article. It accurately reflects the reality of an aged worker in Singapore. All blame must be on PAP. And the reasons are clearly stated in this article.

  5. An excellent article. It accurately reflects the reality of an aged worker in Singapore. All blames must goes to PAP. And the reasons are clearly stated in this article.

    • Thank you for dropping by Sg Cabby. I also enjoy reading your blog. I think your job is one of the few or maybe the only job that is still only exclusive to Singaporeans! All other jobs including mine are swarmed by FTs! Hopefully your job won’t be affected. If that happens, there is really no way to go. Every corner you go sure kena FTs competing for your rice bowl! We have lost our birthright as the owners and citizens if this piece of tiny island we call our home! I feel like a stranger in my own country. I feel like a second class citizen in my land of birth where foreigners are treated better than me. There must be wind before a wave! It is a feeling many indigenous citizens feel. I didn’t feel it 20 yrs ago. Why I’m beginning to feel it now? I’m no scholar but it must be something going badly wrong for such a feeling to happen right? We voted in a govt bent on taking care of foreigners instead of their own citizens. Look around you to see what I said. Whether its true or not you can see for yourself. It’s out there!

    • Alwi says:

      All PAP faults,but when some went to shop for young chicks as young as 17 years old nobody remember Lee Kuan Yew and when some comeback a pauper,easy way out PAP. All PAP fault but when you got your CPF or net profit after selling your HDB flats nobody said its PAP fault for enriching them.It’s only PAP fault when the monies are gone. I agree about PAP fault when bringing too many foreign talents etc

  6. ape says:

    In the first 10 years of my working life, I told myself that a company who does not take care of its older staff is not worth my commitment. Later, I applied this belief to the gahmen.

    • Hey Ape,
      Make sure you do just that ! One person’s voice is nothing but merely just noise. If tens of thousands then it becomes more than noise. It becomes an uproar ! The Kallang Roar! The lions’ roar! If you do that in the Swiss alps it becomes an avalanche ! We may not have the Swiss standard of living promised to us BUT we can create the Swiss avalanche if only we roar together! Got it?

      • ape says:

        As the Chinese saying goes… 没功劳也有苦劳.
        Avalanche? No la… ape not so aggressive and my fortune teller say lie low go slow this year. :p

        • If all the citizens lie low then our status quo will remain the same forever. There will not be changes. Things will remain as before. There won’t be improvements. We must work hard in life if we want changes for a better life.

  7. joseph says:

    It is shit standard of living when retirement is no longer an option available.

    • Joseph,
      Thks for your comment. There is simply too much shit here. We never ask for free handouts or free welfare. It’s just that our own hard earned life savings denied to us resulting in us having to work until the day we die! Only here we see this happening to us. Yes it’s full of shit in this hell hole. Any future for us? Any prospects for the golden years of retirement we dream of? I leave it to you to decide.

      • Alwi says:

        Even rich Malaysia is facing food and land shortage,so can we team up and import our own rice,by the way the countries that export rice are also doing what Malaysia is doing,released agriculture land for industry,remember China the world biggest producer of rice.

        So once the baby boomers squandered all their CPF they expect the government to support them and can I ask where the heck the government is going to get the monies
        if not from our children.

        The fault with PAP is they failed to inculcate the Sporeans to be thrifty and the citizen got carried away and start behaving like a middle income. Your flats and CPF are actually your lands,your assets as Spore don’t have the luxury of being vast like Thailand,Malaysia and Indonesia.

        So once you speculate and spend on this two items ie CPF,HDB,you’re going to suffer. If you guys maintained your first flat and work to accumulate your CPF and the government did something to tweak your CPF than only its genuine case of PAP cheating the people.You ask around in other countries the citizen repair their clothing,tv,bicycles but in Singapore,just throw and buy a new one

        KUALA LUMPUR: Almost 100,000ha of padi land in the peninsula – the equivalent of 50,000 football fields – have given way to industrial and housing development over the last 15 years.

        In Sabah and Sarawak, padi fields decreased by about 6,000ha in the same period.

        With the increasing population, Malaysia will have to spend billions of ringgit more on rice imports – unless yield from existing padi fields can be boosted.

        According to the Agriculture and Agro-based Indus­tries Ministry, padi land in the peninsula decreased from 372,542ha in 1997 to 284,441ha last year.

        The ministry, in a statement to The Star, said the padi fields were converted into housing estates and commercial land.

        Some were planted with oil palm, pineapple and vegetables.

        Mardi is concerned with at least maintaining the current level of self-sufficiency.

        Its Rice Research Centre deputy director Dr Marzukhi Hashim said: “With the increasing population, our 72% rate of self-sufficiency will decline unless strategic measures are taken to increase rice production on existing padi land.

        • Datuk Alwi,
          “So once the baby boomers squandered all their CPF they expect the government to support them and can I ask where the heck the government is going to get the monies
          if not from our children.”

          So what if I take all my Cpf money to the 2 casinos built by this govt and lost it? It’s still my money. Keep your filthy hand away from my life savings. Go to hell with your excuses! U think the govt will take care of old folks with no money? Pls wake up and look around you they are still working even in their 70s! Don’t ever hope the govt will look after you.

          • Alwi says:

            Baby boomer bought a 3rm or 4rm flats and it cost just a fraction of the price now.Even with a Train Officer pay you still have plenty even after they deduct CPF for minimum sum. The problem many got carried away and jumped into the capitalist trap. When the old cant work will the govt feed them to the dogs,show me one case.Like it or not they will rescue not for the destitute sake but for Spore image

          • Datuk Alwi,
            You just don’t get it. CPF money is your life saving. It is yours. Nobody shld “keep” it for you for whatever reasons they use to justify it! It’s yours. If you can’t keep it properly then blame yourself. Nobody to be blamed. What you saying abt the good old days HDB at a fraction of today’s price etc etc are not relevant here. It’s a matter of principle that the govt shld not touch our own money. Capitalist or communism or whatever u want to call it has no bearing on this principle and the sacred right which shld not be violated. Got it?
            Pls lah don’t go off topic and stray into other areas. What about your children or future generations of citizens? All their CPF monies will be locked up forever after paying for half a million of HDB flat and medisave. If u still don’t get it I don’t know what to say!
            It’s ok with me if you want to puji this govt. But pls do it convincingly lah!

          • Alwi says:

            Yes its your monies and you can do what so ever with it,but my key question who is going to pay for you medical bill,day to day expenses when you are a pauper. PAP is not God that command and food,gold,medicine,house,hospital and monies be there in speed of light. There are about one million baby boomers and the first badge graduated in 2012. My contention is simple where the PAP will get the monies from? Taxes and who pay the taxes? The govt,investors or your children?

            “What about your children or future generations of citizens? All their CPF monies will be locked up forever after paying for half a million of HDB flat and medisave” You mean by releasing your CPF they will have theirs. I beg to differ,by releasing yours they might not even see any CPF. As a businessman why must I pay higher corporate tax,I’ll invest in China,India and now the new darling of investors Brazil

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