Speaking in Parliament yesterday (26 Feb), Nominated Member of Parliament Arasu Duraisamy said that many elderly Singaporean workers had told him that they are not ready to retire.
Mr Arasu, who is also a member of the NTUC central committee, said, “Many of the older workers have told us they are not ready to retire for good.”
Some of them, he added, need to support their families, others hope to build up funds for healthcare or retirement, and many say they are still healthy, physically able and want to be gainfully employed.
In other words, many of the older Singaporeans want to continue to work out of necessity. They need money to eat and to see doctors.
Hence, Mr Arasu proposed that the government should raise both the retirement age and re-employment age to help older workers stay employed, so as to keep earning money.
He said, “The extension of the retirement age and re-employment age provides certainty to workers who want to continue working, and allows a longer runway for employers to plan for training and upskilling, as well as adapt to digital transformation holistically.”
He proposed that the retirement age to go up from 62 to 65, and the re-employment age from 67 to 70.
He told Parliament that the best support an elderly worker can get is “ensuring they have a good job”.
“I urge the civil service and other government-linked companies to quickly take the lead,” he added.
He also spoke about the importance of training and educating the older workers.
Elderly work till death
Indeed, many of the elderly in their 60s and even 70s have to continue to work, despite their old age and sufferings from age-related ailment. Many simply do not have enough money to retire decently in their sunset years, unlike the elderly in other first world countries.
Some work as cleaners in hawker centres while others work as security guards. Still, some work at Changi airport as cleaners or trolley collectors surprising many tourists who are visiting Singapore.
Not surprising, there have been reports of Singapore elderly working till they literally dropped dead in their workplace.
For example sometime ago, there was a media report about a dishwasher, Mdm Ho, who died while working at ABC hawker centre in Bukit Merah. She died inside a toilet, still sitting on the toilet bowl.
According to the report, Mdm Ho worked daily from morning till night, 7 days a week. She had to wash some 200 dishes a day. She only had 2 days off a month.
“When I saw her yesterday, she was walking unsteadily and appeared pale. I heard she has been having diarrhea for the past few days,” her supervisor then said.
It’s not known if Mdm Ho had ever spoken to Mr Arasu, telling him at the time that she was not ready to retire before she finally succumbed to death.