Retrenched PMET driving for a living says he can’t afford to spend his last days in Singapore

Retrenched PMET driving for a living says he can’t afford to spend his last days in Singapore

One might have expect that a former Business Development Director of a semiconductor company, with several years of experience being stationed in China, having little to no problems with finding a job, not to mention having a bright career in Singapore.

However, a Singaporean of such professional background, was unfortunately retrenched over five years ago and despite numerous job applications, has been unable to secure employment.

Currently, the individual works as a private hire driver and expresses concerns about being unable to retire in Singapore due to the rising cost of living.

Jeffrey Khoo, Deputy Organising Secretary of the Progress Singapore Party, recently shared his encounter and conversation with a local driver on his Facebook page.

In his post, Mr Khoo recounted how he took a ride to attend a meeting in town, and during their conversation, he learned that the driver was formerly a seasoned PMET as well.

Difficulty to find job, main reason for rejection was “too old”

Despite actively seeking job opportunities, the driver faced difficulty securing employment due to ageism.

“For the companies that interviewed him, the main reason for rejection was that he was too old.”

Although it is already a common story these days, what caught Jeffrey’s attention was the driver’s deep disappointment in not being able to retire in Singapore due to the high cost of living.

The driver even went into detail about potentially retiring in neighboring countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, or Indonesia, where rental and food are relatively inexpensive, and there are decent medical facilities.

“The plan was to rent out his HDB flat and use the proceeds to fund he and his wife’s overseas living expenses.”

“Not afford to spend his last days in Singapore”

Despite this, the driver lamented not being able to afford to spend his last days in Singapore.

“He sadly described his destiny as “客死他乡” or “to die in a foreign land”. ”

Jeffrey Khoo added that despite the driver’s pessimistic outlook, he reiterated that his heart will always be in his homeland, Singapore, and perhaps his ashes can return home when it’s all over.

“I wonder how many of us will end up like this Singaporean? Hopefully not many.”

Netizen shares her plan to leave, does not intend to keep her HDB

A netizen shared the former director’s sentiment, stating that she had also planned to leave Singapore to retire happily elsewhere.

She wrote that she does not intend to keep her HDB flat as the government could en-bloc it at any time and compensate them below market rate, while the monthly CPF payout of $650 was not enough to cover household expenses.

“I intend to follow my friends turn over our passport / citizenship & move on like our grand parents & start new & happier life elsewhere.”

Other comments highlighted the reality that many Singaporeans are unable to retire, questioning the standard of living that Singapore provides for its citizens during their golden years and expressed concern for those who lack the financial means to retire.

One netizen commenting on the driver’s experience of being unable to secure employment despite having overseas experience, suggested that this is yet another example of how the Singaporean government is insincere when they say they want their citizens to gain overseas experience.

Jeffrey Khoo offered words of encouragement: ‘there is always a way out’

Another comment lamented the harsh reality of “working till death” in Singapore and expressed a feeling of resonance with Jeffrey Khoo’s post.

“This is the present-day Singapore! Working until you’re old and unable to retire! Reading this post, my heart is touched. Life is helpless.”

In response to this comment, Jeffrey Khoo offered words of encouragement, saying, “There is always a way out, never give up hope. 天无绝人之路,” which means that there is always a way out for those who persevere.

Ordinary Singaporeans struggle to make ends meet as cost of living continues to rise

The high cost of living has been a long-standing concern among Singaporeans, particularly with the rising prices of housing.

This issue has also caused frustration among young single Singaporeans who are hardly participate in the HDB housing programme and who are increasingly dissatisfied with the current People’s Action Party (PAP) government.

The recent increase of GST by 1% from 7% to 8% effective January 2023 has further pushed up food prices, as all vendors have reason to raise prices now.

The housing prices have risen significantly in recent years, and the government had to implement several cooling measures in December 2021 and September 2022, to moderate demand in the property market.

In addition, the Singapore government announced an increase in Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates, effective from 27 April, in an effort to prioritize housing for owner-occupation.

More than 20 years have passed since 1999, and many elderly Singaporeans continue to struggle every day working to survive.

According to a Reuters’ report in 2019, many elderly Singaporeans look for jobs after retirement because Singapore’s CPF retirement saving scheme does not provide enough money for them to survive.

“If I don’t work, where will my income come from?” said 71 year-old Mdm Mary Lim, one of many elderly cleaners earning a meager wage clearing up to 400 plates a day at a foodstall in Singapore’s Chinatown.

“If I stop my work, how will I survive?”

The Singapore government announced in the Budget 2023 that it will increase the minimum monthly payout for the Retirement Sum Scheme (RSS) from S$250 to S$350 starting 1 June 2023, as part of the effort to boost retirement adequacy.

However, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP) at National University of Singapore published a survey finding in 2019 that an older Singaporean above 65 years old would need S$1,379 a month to meet his or her basic needs.

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