They may share the same surnames and political party affiliation, but each seems to have a different idea about the right age to stop work.
Speaking to reporters in Finland, Minister-in-charge of issues of ageing Lim Boon Heng, 63, is suggesting that the Singapore re-employment period to be extended to age 67. He said: "People are healthier and living longer, so they need more money so as to relieve the burden on their children and the Government." To support his thesis, he quotes Germany is increasing its statutory retirement age from 65 to 67 between 2012 and 2029, and Britain will raise state pension age to 66 in 2024 and eventually to 68 in 2044. However, countries do provide for their senior citizen's needs in the twilight years, such as free healthcare and welfare assistance sufficient for 3 meals in a hawker center, food court or restaurant. Just don't count on it in Singapore. For logistics manager Michael Loh, 59, he feels compelled to keep working "until the official retirement age", whatever that is, and accept whatever scraps offered piecemeal to him. Member of Parliament Charles Chong explains why: "we don't have much choice ... because if people are living longer, they won't have enough savings to last for 15 years if they retire when they are just 62 or 65". Longevity is reserved only for the rich.
Meanwhile in Singapore, Lim Swee Say, 56, is announcing plans to make it compulsory for top union leaders to "step down" at age 62. One of the 12 former union leaders who "gave up their post voluntarily" was general treasurer of Union of Power and Gas Employees Mohammed Salleh Kassim, 63, who had to fall in line, rationalising, "It's not wise to hold on to the post till the last day." Not for him the privilege of working longer even if his health permits. If he needs extra income, he'll just have to collect tin cans and cardboard boxes like the rest of the silver haired generation.
One Lim is born in 1954, and the other in 1947. Is it mere coincidence that both are advocating policy changes that are favorable to his own age grouping?