Should the minimum retirement age be raised from 62 to 65?
I don't want to think of retirement now
By Low Ching Ling
July 17, 2007
THREE weeks ago, I told a colleague I wanted to buy my own home because I wanted my own living space.
My colleague, who egged me on, had a different rationale.
She said: 'Buying a home is perhaps the only way you can enjoy your CPF savings before you retire.'
Or worse, before I die.
Our conversation had stemmed from the Government's proposal to raise the CPF minimum sum payout age from 62 to 65.
Now, workers who turn 55 can withdraw a portion of their CPF savings but have to set aside a minimum sum in their CPF account.
They then receive a monthly payout from age 62.
But since people are now living longer and the population is growing older, the Government wants more senior citizens to keep working beyond 62.
Its target? A 65 per cent employment rate for people aged 55 to 64. The rate was 53.7 per cent last year.
And to achieve that, it wants a re-employment law within the next five years.
I have no doubt the Government is serious about raising the minimum-sum withdrawal age.
A CPF (Amendment) Bill is to be tabled at today's Parliament sitting though it's not clear if it has anything to do with the changes mentioned earlier.
Faced with the prospect of having to work longer and wait longer for my CPF payouts (my first will come only in 2043 if the minimum-sum payout age is raised), my colleague's advice appeared to make sense.
To me, 2043 is light years (36 years, to be precise) away.
Call me a doomsayer, but I'm afraid I may die early before I get to enjoy all my CPF savings.
Yes, people may live longer these days, but life remains fragile.
In my job, I see all kinds of tragedies.
In recent months, there have been reports of seemingly-fit young people collapsing and dying, others never waking from their slumber and active people killed in freak accidents.
When Mr Lim Boon Heng, the minister-in-charge of ageing issuesproposed raising the CPF minimum-sum withdrawal age, my first thought was: What if I don't live till 65?
Of course, I could also die before I get to enjoy my home long enough. But I'll take my chances.
That's just me.
I understand the Government cannot make policies based on the assumption that people don't live to a ripe old age.
And looking at the larger picture, it's a good plan for retirement security.
I don't want the Government to be taking care of me in my silver years.
But I'm not sure I want it to take care of my CPF savings for so long either.
Perhaps it has less to do with the Government, more with the people.
Too often, Singaporeans have whined about their problems, almost always insisting the Government bail them out.
So, why should we be trusted to spend our hard-earned CPF savings wisely, right?
But raise the minimum-sum withdrawal age or not, I believe there's one thing all workers making an honest living should never abandon: The idea of retirement.
While I see the point made by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, when he called for a 're-tuning' of mindsets and attitudes towards growing old, his remark that 'we must not think about retiring' did not sit well with me.
Surely, after slogging at their jobs for half their lives, workers deserve to look forward to living their golden years in comfort - whether or not they are faced with an ageing population, longer lifespans and rising medical costs, whether they are poor or rich, young or old.
No worker should ever give up the dream of an idyllic retirement - even if it's before the grand old age of 65.
The question is: How hard are we willing to work for it?
At my age (I will turn 29 in September), it's perhaps premature to think about retirement.
But I do, because no matter how many years of working life I have left, it's a dream I keep working towards.
I hope to retire when I'm in my 50s - with my own home and all.
I consider myself lucky. For now, time is still on my side.
If I don't stretch myself financially and if I plan well, I may be able to afford an early retirement.
And if I continue to work then, it will be only because I want to, not because I have to.
If the law is amended to allow for later retirement, I hope it won't also punish those who choose to retire early.