In 1984, Lee Kuan Yew said the practice of American corporations was for the chief executive officer to step down at age 65. He believed it was based on sound medical grounds. Something else also jolted him into reality. This is how he presented it at the National Day Rally speech:
"I do not know how much time the old Guards have. My senior colleagues and I are in our early and late 60s. Last October, three senior ministers were in hospital at the same time, in different parts of the world - one in New York and two in Singapore. Rajaratnam had a heart attack when he was at the UN. Goh Keng Swee was in SGH for treatment. Hon Sui Sen was recovering and was talking to Goh Keng Swee before lunch. After lunch Hon Sui Sen had a massive infarct. He died that same afternoon.
A skilful surgeon in London, through delicate additional plumbing to his heart, has given Rajaratnam a reprieve. Goh Keng Swee has got a remission. But he has given me notice he is not standing for re-election. Rajaratnam too wants to stand down. Goh Keng Swee cannot be moved. I am trying to persuade Rajaratnam to go on for another term at at least half a term."
Looking at the face of Alexander Imich, a retired chemist and parapsychologist, who died in New York City at the age of 111, one wonders when he decided to call it quits (He published a book "Incredible Tales of the Paranormal," when he was 92). Imich attributed his longevity to good genetics, proper nutrition and exercise and the fact that he and his wife did not have children. Factors which some may want to take into consideration, especially those who plan to maximise on the "benefits" of the Medishield Life scheme which provide lifetime coverage.
My aunt, 89, is not one of those. Recently she met up with another relative, 82, and told her she never intended to live so long. One eye has failed, hearing in one ear is gone, and the taste buds are pretty useless. Indeed, many seniors would rather stop labouring at 55, and check out the bucket list of things to do, die happy. Much better than a sickly life of old age. Poor Goh Keng Swee was blind for his last ten years, unable to indulge in his happy pursuits of reading and photography. Immortality is so over rated.