by Augustine Low
At 42, Jacinda Ardern is stepping down this week as Prime Minister of New Zealand because she “no longer has enough in the tank.”
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who celebrates his 71st birthday next month, apparently has enough in the tank to go on. He had previously expressed his wish several times (since 2017) to step down before his 70th birthday.
What about the rest of us? Do we want to soldier on beyond the age of 70?
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong told us that the majority of Singaporeans “want to work longer” if they stay healthy. He is not the first nor will he be the last politician to tell us that Singaporeans prefer to delay retirement.
The funny thing is, how many of us harbour such an ambition? The government seems to know us better than we know ourselves.
The best time to retire is while we are still healthy. How many aspire to work till they drop, or till their health fails? All the CPF money would be of no use then – a fate that has befallen many.
Of course, it’s a different story altogether if we were to draw million-dollar salaries. That’s fuel for the tank and nourishment for the spirit to keep going no matter what.
Those of us with meagre to modest pay slips have tanks that run low on fuel because decades of work has taken its toll. We have to make do with personal and CPF savings to tide over old age after retirement. Do spare a thought for plentiful folks who cannot call it a day well into their twilight years because they would go without food and utilities. For them, it’s not a question of “want to work” but need to work. They have no choice.
Can the government tell the difference?
They even seem to know our thoughts and motivations.
The one that has become a mantra is that Singaporeans vote for the Opposition while wanting and expecting to have the People’s Action Party (PAP) as the governing party.
PM Lee again echoed this as recently as two months ago, saying: “Unfortunately, we cannot have it both ways. Whether voters give the new Government a strong or weak mandate makes a very big difference.”
Singaporeans are told they cannot have it both ways.
But wait a minute: Aren’t losing PAP candidates in the general election appointed advisers to grassroots organisations – and not winning Opposition candidates who are voted in as Members of Parliament?
Under their system, the winning PAP candidate takes all, and the losing PAP candidate still ends up winning.
Who is having it both ways?