In a heartfelt Facebook post, Mr Jeffery Khoo, a member and candidate of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) in the West Coast GRC during the 2020 General Election, shared a poignant encounter he had with a 73-year-old private hire driver on Saturday (24 Jun).
On that afternoon, as Mr Khoo commuted to town for a meeting, he was picked up by the elderly driver.
Initially, the driver mentioned that he had taken up the job recently due to “boredom at home.”
However, as their conversation unfolded, it became evident that there was more to his decision than mere boredom.
Having worked as a construction worker in the past, the elderly driver revealed that he had ventured into private hire driving to supplement his finances.
Despite receiving $200 monthly from each of his three adult children, with his wife also receiving the same amount, he felt the need to accumulate additional savings for the future, especially considering the challenges that come with aging and potential immobility.
He added that even his 70-year-old wife continues to work at a fast food outlet.
Moved by their exceptional efforts in raising their three children, Mr Khoo expressed his admiration and acknowledged the blessing of receiving financial support from their children, recognizing that not every child demonstrates such strong filial piety towards their parents.
The driver earning additional income to alleviate his children’s burden
Furthermore, the elderly driver shared the struggles faced by his children in their own lives, as they strive to make a living.
“In an effort to alleviate their burden, he has taken it upon himself to earn additional income while he is still able. Undoubtedly, he is a selfless father who loves his family.”
Nevertheless, amidst his selflessness, the driver couldn’t help but express a sense of envy towards his peers from other countries in the same age group.
Unlike them, he longed for the opportunity to retire completely and be free from work obligations.
Mr. Khoo praised this gentleman’s life story as truly inspiring.
“Through sheer physical labor, he and his wife successfully raised and financially supported three children through their tertiary education.”
“Clearly, he has also imparted upon them the right set of values, ” Mr Khoo added.
Looking to the future, Mr. Khoo expressed a strong hope that Singapore will be able to provide its elderly citizens with the means to retire comfortably, unburdened by financial worries.
Netizens highlight the plight of elderly Singaporeans and call for improved retirement support
Mr Khoo’s Facebook post sparked a flurry of comments from netizens, echoing the sentiments of the elderly driver’s struggles and shedding light on the challenging reality faced by many elderly Singaporeans who are unable to retire and continue to toil, either to avoid burdening their children or simply to make ends meet.
One netizen pointed out that it is disheartening to hear such sad stories of the elderly in Singapore, considering the country’s status as a wealthy nation with a substantial national reserve, second only to Norway.
“In Norway, yes, they have to pay higher personal income taxes but when they reach 60, they can retire comfortably with no worries for housing, daily expenditure or medical care for the state will take care of such expenses through tax revenue supplemented by returns from investing their reserves.”
Lack of retirement support
A comment stated that the problem lies not in working during senior years to relieve oneself of boredom, but rather working out of necessity.
He emphasized that the issue arises when individuals are compelled to continue working due to financial constraints or lack of retirement support.
Another netizen raised the point that while the elderly driver is fortunate to receive financial support from his children, the reality is that the cost of living has become increasingly high, making it challenging to sustain a decent standard of living with just $600 a month.
Mr. Khoo acknowledged this comment and expressed his agreement, highlighting the unfortunate reality that some children neglect their parents’ financial needs. He also acknowledged that many children themselves also facing financial burdens.
Elderly Singaporeans forced to work for survival
More than 20 years have passed since 1999 and many elderly Singaporeans continue to struggle everyday working to survive.
According to a Reuters’ report in 2019, many elderly Singaporeans look for jobs after retirement because the 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.