Is CPF really your money?

The government has just announced that the minimum sum in the CPF be raised to $155,000. If you take into account the medisave in CPF, the total amount is nearly $200,000. If you do not have at least $200,000 in your CPF account today, you will not be able to withdraw any cash. The minimum sum and the amount in medisave will keep increasing each year making it more and more difficult for Singaporeans to withdraw their own savings in their CPF account.

Unless you belong to the high income earners, those lower income earners will never withdraw their own savings even if they work a lifetime. It is quite obvious to any thinking Singaporean that he will not be able to withdraw his life savings in his CPF account based on the following 3 factors.

a) Minimum Sum in CPF
This minimum sum will keep increasing through the years. They say it is adjusted to inflation so that you could get a decent monthly payout when you retire. The fact that our wages are not increasing as fast as the increase in minimum sum means that we can never keep up. But if you are high income earners earning more than $10,000 a month, then it’s no issue. Fact is that most of us don’t earn that kind of salary. As such, your own money in your own CPF account is beyond your reach in that sense. When you reach 55 years, you can’t withdraw your CPF money cuz of the high minimum sum arbitrarily decided by the government.

b) Medisave
This portion of your CPF can never be withdrawn in your lifetime. It is meant for medical expenses in the event you are hospitalized. The money will be transferred to your NOK when you expire. It is now more than $40,000. It is expected to be increased over time also.

c) HDB
We know that HDB prices will also keep increasing. With housing loan stretching up to 25 yrs, by the time you finish paying your housing loan, a big chunk of your CPF is gone. Just to give you an example, my parents bought their 4-room A model in 1994 at only $101,000. Today, a much smaller 4-room flat easily costs you much more than that. The government will tell you about grants and more grants, but how many really benefit? If you are earning a decent salary, you are expected to pay your own flat. Do not expect easy grants since HDB flats are “affordable” to you.

Due to the above 3 factors, a majority of Singaporeans will not be able to get their CPF when they retire at 55 yrs. That is why so many Singaporeans are very concerned about this CPF issue. It affects them directly especially those lower income wage earners.

To arbitrarily impose a minimum sum (currently is $148,000) across the board for all Singaporeans is illogical and unjust. Those earning $1,000 to those earning more than $10,000 also subject to the same minimum sum simply doesn’t make sense at all. It is not justifiable at all given the fact that it is our own money. If it belongs to us, then we should be given an option. But as it is, there is no option at all. The government decides and justifies it without even bothering to seek your consent. Is it your real money? If it is really your money and the money really belongs to you, then you should be able to decide for yourself. Not someone decides for you and still insists that it is your own money. What sort of logic is this?

There is so much frustration and anger when the government keeps increasing the minimum sum beyond the inflation rate until Singaporeans lost faith and trust. How to justify the increase in the minimum sum when it far outstrips inflation rate with stagnant wages due to the influx of cheap foreign labour? We know that our wages are so much lower than 1st world countries due to the influx of cheap foreign labour. I’m not going to expand on this area since I’m now talking about CPF.

Another flaw is that the minimum sum doesn’t take into account healthy and fit seniors working till their 70s. Just look around you and you could see that there are tons of old people cleaning tables, toilets or selling tissue paper. My parents in their 70s are still working. That is a fact. How about those children who could support their aged parents? I’m sure providing 3 meals a day and a roof over their heads should not be a problem. In the event that the children do not want to support their aged parents, there is the Parents Maintenance law to fall back on.

As such, the government’s argument that they should not be supporting unproductive seniors in the event that they do not have monthly payouts does not really hold water here. Most Singaporeans are now wondering why is the government so persistent in holding back our CPF money by drastically increasing our CPF minimum sum year after year? Amongst us, there are many who do not have CPF savings such as self-employed hawkers, taxi drivers, odd job labourers etc. What about them? Will they perish when they grow old?

There is an old blog post written by me about 2 yrs ago relating a true story about my ex-colleague’s inability to use his CPF Special Account to pay off his outstanding housing loan and he’s struggling to live on his meagre income. It is his money and yet he can’t decide to use it to pay off his remaining housing loan. That post went viral recently with more than 5,000 hits in a day when that blogger got sued for defamation. Netizens goggle about CPF and found my old blog post. Link – Click here to read

It is no longer an issue between that blogger and the PM. The case has generated so much intense debate and discussion that even some ministers and MPs are coming out openly in concerted effort to explain their official position. That blogger has inadvertently kicked the hornets’ nest. It is not going to rest but the frustrations and anger will surely escalate. You can shut him down but you can’t shut off those heartlanders still talking in the coffee-shops. As it is, I’m sitting at EM coffee shop writing this blog, I could hear residents discussing about the CPF issue. I’m not going to repeat what they are saying cuz some of those comments are simply unpublishable here.

As far as I’m concerned, I do not care if the government uses my money to invest and make tons of money. After all, the government guarantees me 4% on my special account or 2.5% on my ordinary account. It’s just like borrowing money from the bank to invest. If I make lots of money, do I have to share with the bank? Even though in this case, I got no choice but let the government use my CPF to invest in whatever way they deem fit.

Do not forget that the government has no money by itself. The money comes from those living in the country. If the government is rich, it could do lots of things like investing heavily in infrastructure, defense, better schools and hospitals etc… But pls don’t squander our money on Children’s Games or building luxurious Club exclusively for the maids! Let the government make the money through our combined CPF savings but pls be more transparent and truthful. Return us our CPF when we reach 55 yrs. That’s what our late Dr Toh Chin Chye – ex-DPM said in parliament before. How I wish we got leaders like Dr Toh or Dr Goh in government today. Do not simply keep on increasing the minimum sum to deny us our own life savings. Give us an option whether to withdraw our CPF or leave it there for safekeeping to earn interest. If it is so attractive to keep our CPF with the government, I’m sure many will do it willingly. Denying us to our own life savings in our CPF will definitely ignite the time bomb. That is the crux of the matter.

To be fair to the PM, he has NOT sued many bloggers before. Did he proceed to take full legal action against them? Many a time, the PM stopped short of taking them to court except in this case. Why make that blogger a martyr? There is nothing for him to lose and much more for the PM. At most, the blogger is declared a bankrupt but he has just woken the masses. I believe the PM is in a dilemma. To go all out or to pull back? That’s the question? CPF is one of the pillars of our nation. It is now under attack. How is he going to handle it?

If I were the PM, I would try to open up and be more transparent. Most importantly, give Singaporeans a choice or an option. With that, there will be no more issue. Why go against the flow of the current or against the wind direction? Ours is a democracy where one man one vote will decide the government of the day? This government compared to many other countries in the world has done very well so far albeit imperfect in certain areas, should not let the CPF issue be it’s Waterloo. Remember the CPF issue affects every Singaporean. It is an issue closest to their hearts. It is a time bomb that need to be diffused as quickly as possible. As it is, damage control is in place with so many Ministers and MPs speaking out and making comments but they still fail to address the root cause of the CPF issue.

I’m merely stating my own opinion on the CPF issue. I believe as a true blue Singaporean, I’ve got the right to my own view on this controversial issue where every mother’s son is talking about. Let’s hope that the government will heed the comments, opinions and cries of Singaporeans. It is in their interests to do so.


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean 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 write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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12 Responses to Is CPF really your money?

  1. What say the 60%? says:

    Before GE 2011, the CPF min sum was already quite high, at $123,000. Despite this, 60% still voted for the PAP.
    Now it is $155,000, an increase of 32,000 or an increase of 26% from 2011. Hence so much anger and unhappiness among Sinkies.
    Now the question:
    What adverse impact will this 26% increase of CPF min sum have on the 60% who voted PAP in GE 2011?
    Will there also be a 26% decrease (due to anger and unhappiness) in vote for PAP in GE 2015/2016? Meaning PAP will get only 44% (60% less 26% of 60%) and hence be voted out?
    What do u think? Or rather what do u think PAP will think?


  2. Pingback: Daily SG: 29 May 2014 | The Singapore Daily

  3. patriot says:

    There are over ten questions being asked in this Article.

    Will there be answers or invitation by Ruler(s) to Gintai for National Conversation? Nonetheless and hopefully, the Rulers read this Article and look into the CPF Issue. Almost all working Singaporeans are affected by each and every policy enacted on it.
    At present, few are happy with the Way it is administered.



  4. Wonderman says:

    CPF policy is definitely going against Dr Toh’s definition of CPF. It is already made public that CPF funds can be transferred to the next generation. Like I always told my parent, why put your money in CPF when you can withdraw it now during your life time to go overseas to enjoy while you can walk? Aren’t they sacrifice not long enough to bring us up?

    It is very unfortunate for children that is only able to give few hundreds every month given the high cost vs. low wage model that citizens like me have and are experiencing now.

    What we have now is a CPF policy of locking up my parent generation CPF fund to be transferred to (my) future generation. This fund is going to roll very big after (children) generations and what individual member see is paper statement with small percent of paper return.

    What makes me uncomfortable is the huge losses in GIC as well as Temasek that was make known to us by external news report. With little to no information coupled with the infrastructure and ill-policies issues and high salary paid out to them, please enlighten me on how to trust those so call elite handling our live-hood when there are so many coc* up in the past 10 years?

    Marketing themselves to much dollars yet produce lousy result is giving us a seriously bad deal.


  5. Alan says:

    You have rightly pointed out the fallacy of the CPF Minimum Sum. For argument sake, let’s not even talk about those not meeting the Minimum Sum but focus instead on those who have little or no CPF savings. What exactly has our PAP Govt planned or going to plan for these people ? None right ? Maybe at best to allow them to apply for that paltry PAP Assistance if it is not too much a face losing step. It is not as if they are even going to put some money in their accounts anyway ? Even topping up that PA payment by S$100 already invited a lot of scorn from that infamous Minister, remember. See, it merely exposes their lie right away.

    So is our Govt really worried that the rest of us really don’t have enough retirement funds to begin with ? Or they do have some kind of hidden agenda that we absolutely have no information of ? No wonder Roy has his suspicions. Your guess is as good as mine and they are not doing anybody justice by the way they are doing things in the quiet and changing goalposts from time to time. And the more they want to hide things from us, it looks the more desperate they are out to suppress things.

    To begin with, maybe losing that S$40 billion is the start of all the problems they are hiding from us. I don’t know but do you know either ? How much is 1 billion ? Is it 1,000 million or 1million million ? I am writing my opinion & only asking some questions here, so PM don’t fucking try to sue me for nothing.


  6. cabby66 says:

    The main reason why this “G” refused to let CPF members withdraw their money completely or partially at retirement dates is because some of them might end up as social welfare cases and that would becomes a big financial burden for the “G” having to look after them thereafter. Another reason is this “G” don’t trust her people. They are worried that her people will turn this country into a welfare reliance state with bad work attics.

    You know as well as I do, this “G” is welfare adverse. Everything they do must be sustainable and if possible with profit like an MNC. No free lunch. But isn’t our “G” integral responsibility is to look after her people? No, not this “G”. They only look after the rich because it’s the rich that creates jobs for the poor and the rich pays taxes, the poor don’t!! In short, nothing will change under the present “G”. If you want a better life in Singapore, either change the “G” or at least get the “G” to change!

    If I’m in charge, I’ll tax the rich more to help the truly poor. Will the rich moves elsewhere? No, They invest here not because this place is cheap and corporate tax is low but also because this place is stable, secured and developed with skilled workers. I’ll also “top-up” the CPF retirement fund to meet the minimum sum when a CPF member meets 70% of the minimum sum. Good? Vote for me then, in my next life!


  7. DP says:

    Read the papers, us daft Singaporean are going to get screwed again. Review of the CPF scheme according to the PM means extending the retirement age beyond 65, what the PM did not say is that the withdrawal age would also be adjusted accordingly and will be increased to beyond the present 55. They tried it before and failed because of Dr Toh and so their started all their creative additional accounts and the minimum sum. The end game is to keep the money locked in as long as possible. Soon the 55 year withdrawal will be history and so get ready to bend over Singaporeans,your MPs and CCC will provide the KY so that it’s not too painful


  8. Lau says:

    Actually u should care when the G makes lots of money with ur money. When u walk into the bank and deposit ur money, the bank promised to pay u an interest, end of story. U go in with ur own free will, if the bank close shop & u lose ur money, u kick urself.
    With CPF, the G put a gun at ur head (figuratively of course) and gets ur money. they also promise u an interest. They invest (of course they said u are lending them) and makes lots of money but still give u a low interest. IF they lose the money? NVM they just print more & pay u. Do u think ur money still got value?


  9. Doglover says:

    Fantastic. Making the withdrawal of CPF an option. We are not contesting for any far-fetched or unreasonable requests. We are merely asking for our money to be returned to us, after our ‘fixed-deposit’ has matured. When we withdraw, the govt can always make us sign a form that releases us from being granted any future help from any charities or organisations, should we spend all our retirement funds. To you, gintai, thumbs up. Keep writing. 🙂


  10. EC says:

    Our neighbour Malaysia is able to honor the promise of returning 100% EPF monies to their holders at age 55.

    All returns are transparent and they share the fruits of the returns.

    But can Singapore do that? of course no lar, Malaysia has a young population (half under 25). Singapore has an ageing population, and as Singaporeans, we should share this social cost together.

    If not agreeable, can always opt out citizhenship and come bk as tourist instead, u k take all yr CPF funds out that way…


    • cabby66 says:

      Import young and new citizens, we’ll be young again!


    • Wonderman says:

      Use the policies as a tool to get rid of those elderly and middle age to get more young cheap labours. That’s a good idea EC… U want this to happen to you EC?


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