If there was a justification for more opposition members in parliament to represent the people's interest, Workers' Party's Sylvia Lim provided it yesterday. Highlighting the shortcoming of the new law which escaped the planners, she said that the Government should "at least correspondingly provide for a more seamless transition of employment from 62 to 65."
She had joined in fellow opposition MP Low Thia Khiang's critique that the new law was "half cooked" and will result in Singaporeans "hanging in the air" - without a job at the age of 62, yet unable to tap their CPF savings. The Government had recently announced that the draw down age, when workers are allowed access to their life savings, would be raised to 63 next year, 64 in 2015, and 65 in 2018. The new law requires employers to offer re-employment to workers who turn 62, else to alternately compensate with a one-time "Employment Assistance Payment" to tide him over while job hunting. If the handouts are anything like the pittance from ComCare, the poor sod will probably fill his stomach better with his own savings. Provided the HDB housing loan hasn't bled him dry by then.
Both PAP members Heng and Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong, who insist on deferring drawdown as long as possible, don't seem to get it. When you're broke, you're broke. Who cares about life expectancy of 85, when you don't have food on the table for year 63? They keep harping on working to the grave, without respite to enjoy the fruits of one's labour.
The Retirement and Re-employment Act passed in Parliament is conditional upon the worker's job performance being at least satisfactory and he continues to be medically fit. There's a catch-22 right there. If his health deteriorates, as is expected with the physical ravages of the natural aging process, will his job performance, be it toilet cleaning or mopping floors, satisfy his employers? Not every employer is prepared to keep an octogenarian on the payroll at $3 million per annum, when all he does is regurgitate old war stories.