The experts have confirmed it. Based on a new index put together by Institute of Policy Studies academics Yap Mui Teng and Kang Soon Hock, the older folks in Singapore scored poorly in active ageing: one in five feels that he or she does not have sufficient income for living. Financial security was one of three areas where elderly Singaporeans fell short, the other two being health and community engagement.
Which is strange, considering that when the baby boomers started work, CPF contribution was about 40%. A high savings rate of 40 cents to the dollar should have built up a handsome nest egg for the golden years after a life long chase of the rainbow of dreams. Or Swiss standard of living. Whatever.
Back then, their parents paid something in the region of $13,000 for a 3-room flat. The real deal of a subsidized housing scheme that Lim Kim San was charged to build, with which he succeeded wildly to house some 80% of the public. Somewhere along the line, when Dhanabalan was Minister of National Development, someone got greedy and argued that land allotted for public housing could be sold to the private sector at market prices. And that was the start of the slippery slope, and eventual legacy perpetuated by Mah Bow Tan, that ended up with today's horrific prices. With the same definition of subsidy as used by TT Durai's NKF.
The composition of CPF balances from the official website shows that withdrawals under the Public Housing Scheme (PHS) sucked up as much as $91 billion in 2009. Meaning more members are using more of their CPF savings to service housing loans for their HDB flats, leaving little or nought for health or community participation issues. The CPF document confirms home financing as "likely main cause for the dip in the proportion of OA (Ordinary Account) savings".
Retired military officer James Law, 63, puts it succinctly: "It's hard to age well when you don't have health and money."
Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Boon Heng, put in charge of ageing policies, talks of a $20 million fund to cultivate interest groups (to get elderlies involved in the community). Maybe he wasn't listening when MP for Jalan Besar Lily Neo was questioning Transport Minister Raymond Lim why one in three seniors has to pay more for the new distance-based fares. There's no point in organising activities when the cash strapped has to bleed further for the transportation to get there. Yes, it's that sad.