Member of the People’s Action Party (PAP) Chan Chun Sing said that allowing Muslims to withdraw funds from their CPF account to perform Hajj is a “reasonable request” but it cannot be done in such a way.
This is because this would mean that the Government has to then allow other citizens to draw out money from their CPF account for their pilgrimage journey to countries like Tibet, Japan and Jerusalem.
“When you look at it in isolation, it looks [like a] reasonable request right? But we cannot run on that basis because everything could be to be considered,” he said.
He added that Muslims make such a request to him when he goes and talk to them, adding that it’s an “emotional issue” and would be “heartless” to say no to them.
Mr Chan pointed out that it’s “not easy to answer” to them and it’s very “vexing”.
“But if you say can (go for) Hajj, then can go (to) Tibet or not… can go Japan or not? No to disrespect anybody right, then can go to Jerusalem or not?” asked the PAP candidate for Tanjong Pagar GRC.
Mr Chan, formerly the Minister of Trade and Industry, said this while speaking at a PAP’s closed-door meeting to 60 attendees in the northwest division in Bukit Panjang on 9 January 2019.
Early last year, a reader, Mr Zol, revealed to TOC that he was taken aback by the prospect of receiving his monthly CPF payout of only S$482 starting in June 2019 “under the CPF Retirement Sum Scheme, and this payout would last about 28 years”.
By then, he wrote, “I would be 93 years old”.
Mr Zol elaborated: “I then wrote in and requested for a 20-year payout so as to increase my monthly payout, the reason being Singapore’s life expectancy was 85.4 years (based on statistics reported in the media.) The CPF simply rejected it and cited “current policies” as the reason.
CPF members earn up to 3.5% per annum on the Ordinary Account and up to 5% per annum on the Special, MediSave and Retirement Accounts.
Additionally, CPF members aged 55 and above will earn a supplementary 1% extra interest on the first $30,000 of their combined balances.
Mr Zol, however, stressed that “the 4% interest may not even cover inflation in Singapore and the progressive increase in GST for now is 7% to 9%.
“If using present value to evaluate the 2 options (ie. start the plan at 65 or 70 years old), the best decision is to withdraw all my CPF money now” at 65, he suggested.
Statistics from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s Registry of Births and Deaths appear to support Mr Zol’s theory.
In the Registry’s 2017 Report on Registration of Births and Deaths, it was stated that while the average age at death seems to exceed the age of eligibility for automatic CPF monthly payouts of 70 years old across all ethnic groups at 76.6, it can be observed that the average age at death for Malays barely scrapes the 70 years old threshold at 70.6.
The average age for Indians and other ethnic groups fall below the 70 year old threshold at 69.5 and 65.9 respectively.
Only the average age of Chinese appears to be markedly above the 70 year old threshold at 78.0.
This would mean that many ethnic minority Singaporeans might not get to use their CPF monies during their lifetime.