Sunday, March 04, 2007

Work for the Elderly, Pay Hikes for Ministers!!

It has been a wonderful year for Singapore with the GDP growth hitting 7.7% and corporate profits at a record level relative to the GDP. Many people wonder how Singapore can get here from 10 years ago and the secret is importing thousands of foreigners into the island. Wong Kan Seng said this is the key to our future economic growth. Although its a no brainer that importing another 2.5M will result in economic growth, PAP is the only govt bold enough to do it and to promise its people that they will get to top 1st world status if they allow this to happen. With such a grand plan in the works and last year's marvelous 7.7% growth, it is time to increase ministers' pay.....

To me, PAP's greatest achievement is their ability to motivate Singaporeans to work harder with each passing year. They are perpetually worried that Singaporeans might lose the work ethics and that they will be retire early and waste away their time. To ensure that they continue working the cost of living + GST is pushed up every year, to soak up any excess funds they might have so that Singaporeans remain motivated to work harder. Take workfare as an example. In the past, anyone in Singapore holding a full time job will be able to raise a family and retire when the time comes. The cost of living is now so high, there are 490,000 people who will qualify for workfare, because the wages they earn on their full time jobs is not sufficient to cover the expenses - they either chalk up arreasrs with HDB, SingPower, borrow from loansharks, or hope they strike it rich in Toto. These people will NEVER have enough to retire, they make enough just to get by. 40 years of PAP and one of the great achievement is the sight 80 year old cleaners at the hawker centers. I have a friend from Australia so amazed by this he said he was 'stunned', I told him it is little wonder Singapore will surpass Australia soon as a top 1st world nation with our extraordinary work ethics.

I'm particularly impressed with the Workfare implemention in Singapore this year. You see our economy doesn't create enough jobs that pay sufficient wages for people to live on anymore so Workfare was created so that they are motivated to take up menial jobs that they wouldn't take up before because wages are not sufficient to cover expenses. Now the govt is relieved of the burden of creating higher quality better paying jobs (the type that pay enough) and these people give up hope of ever getting one. Now they get to work harder and longer thanks to Workfare.

Singaporeans are so lucky to have a govt who cares so much about their work ethics. Other govt would undermined their citizens work ethics with subsidized healthcare, welfare etc if ever there is so much prosperity in the society. The PAP ensures that with rising prosperity the work ethics is strengthened by making sure that cost of living and the income gap rises even faster to motivate ordinary Singaporeans. The harder you work, the more economic progress we have in Singapore, the harder you have to work to sustain it. Very soon we will reach top 1st world status, when we get there, I'll be close to 65 years old. I've been practicing cleaning tables to prepare for the day we get there.....I'm sure when the population swells to 6.5M there will be plenty of tables to clean.


Pushing a cleaner's brush instead of a grandchild's pram
Seah Chiang Nee

DESPITE economic prosperity, more and more elderly Singaporeans past retirement age are working as cleaners or toilet attendants, instead of playing with grandchildren.
That they are opting to work past 62 years of age is not surprising and, in fact, could be a plus point. After all, Singapore's life expectancy is 81.7 years, the world's third highest, even ahead of Japan (81.25 years).

But what is not savvy about it is they are doing the sort of menial work once done by unskilled foreigners workers. Some 35.7 per cent are cleaners or doing related work, where incomes are low.

It's not that the elderly don't want to retire, many simply cannot afford to, said Rick Lim in a letter.

He was responding to a government backbencher who had asked why the senior citizens could not just retire early and enjoy life, and he wondered if their expectations of life were too high.
Lim wrote: Are the senior citizens working as cleaners because they are saving to purchase a condominium or a luxury car, or is it because they need to feed themselves and their families?
This is the other face of prospering Singapore, which has one of the world's fastest ageing populations.

Recently, a student from China who was interviewed said that he found it strange to see so many cleaners were elderly, compared to poorer China where they would be enjoying their retirement.

Blame it on globalisation, insufficient safety net or poor education when they were young (probably all together) but it has made old age synonymous, rightly or wrongly, with poverty and hardship.

This is why some Singaporeans who are 45 or older are not looking forward to the prospect of living in one of the world's richest nations in 20 years' time.
The reason? By then they will be joining the unappealing ranks of the city's greying population (aged 65 or more) even as the city moves upwards.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew painted the exciting scenario recently of a fast-developing Singapore moving into the upper half of the First World. We can do this in the next 10-20 years.
Even today growing old is not a good thing. Many employers consider 45-year-olds as over the hill, preferring to replace them with younger, cheaper workers.
(Making things worse is the large influx of foreign workers who are ready to accept lower salaries.)

The majority of aged workers are lowly skilled and make up the bulk of Singapore's struggling class. In recent years, their income has either stagnated or declined, while the rich got richer.
This affects their ability to save for retirement, despite their mandatory Central Provident Funds.

Only 27 per cent of Singaporeans between 25 and 75 said that they have sufficient funds to retire, compared with 61 per cent of Thais and 47 per cent of Malaysians, according to an insurance company survey.

Today one in 12 Singaporeans are 65 or older; by 2030, this will become one in five.
Like elsewhere, this age group has more than a higher rate of homeless and poor, the depressed, and the desperately sick.

Many are becoming victims of cheating or crime. Suicide rates are high.
In a post-mortem of the 2006 election, leaders of the ruling Peoples Action Party attributed its large nine per cent drop in popularity to older votes.

If it is true, it doesn't augur well for its future because this base of senior citizens is growing very quickly.The decision to increase its five per cent Goods and Services tax (GST) to seven per cent will be an added blow to Singaporeans, especially the elderly low-income or retirees group.
To mitigate the impact, the government is offering GST credits of up to S$1,000 to all over 21 years old, that will be apportioned according to income and home value.

In addition, the 2007 Budget also gave Singaporeans a bonus of up to S$1,000 to all Singaporeans who make S$100,000 or less, with those over 55 getting the lion's share.
Two-thirds will be in cash and the rest in Medisave for healthcare.
But it is jobs that remain the bugbear for the seniors because many employers are reluctant to employ or keep people over 50.

Lee Seck Kay says that government efforts to keep elderly people gainfully employed are failing, citing a friend who was retrenched from a foreign oil company.
These Singaporeans have spent a lifetime working hard to build Singapore up, whether as coolies or managers, and should be looked after during their sunset years, many believe.
A retiree suggested the government dip into its reserves to pay each Singaporean over 65 a monthly S$200-S$300 for the rest of his life so that he can enjoy his sunset years. The Star


Anonymous said...

Insightful post, Mr Tan. I fear for Singapore and the MPs we have. Out of the 80+ PAP MPs, there is this sense of group think. Not a single soul is telling the cabinet that their basic premise of making the 80 year old work till 90, and contribute to medisave / special account is drastically unsound.

Anonymous said...

The problems are adequately established however, the solution is not quite yet. Those within the prestigious club are too well fed to let go and those who sit by the fense waiting, want a taste of the club's beef. Whereas the uninterested are basically mocking what they perceive as a bunch of idiots intoxicated with aspartame. Where has it gone wrong, wondered some. Perhaps there must be a reprioritizing of the order? Or should we take a closer examination at the Heart of the issue instead?

In any case, it will be a tough ascend for the aging(impossibly so for many) when we keep peaking and attribute unecessary weight and strength to a selected few.

It is the law of scarcity verses the law of the harvest?

I am not sure....

Anonymous said...

ahhh, well written indeed. now, if only our dear ministers can articulate and reason out their impending salary hike like u did, lucky tan, then i wouldnt have any problems accepting it.

i'm currently 26 but i'm also looking forward to the day where i'll clean tables at the ripe ol' age of 80.

this just shows to prove our dear ministers have all the solutions to all problems.

Anonymous said...

We are all slaves of Singapore Inc a company run by the PAP who act like the owners and set their own pay.

Our slavery used to expire at age 60. Now it is slavery forever.

When you lose political freedom, you will eventually lose your economic well being as it will soon be taken from you.

Anonymous said...

Our former worker representative suggested that we should work until 70 years old. This is pure wisdom and foresight. That is why he can earn million $ salary and at the same time, understand common workers' plight

The Human Battery said...

Simply put, the govt has reneged on its end of the bargain in our social contract.

Anonymous said...

well, the way i see it, there are so many fallacies in the way they (pappies) think, it's not funny. and everyone wants to sing the same song, the same tune. unfortunately, i don't think the same music can take us (singaporeans) to the future.

Anonymous said...

pardon me,did someone just set up age committee or slave committee?

slave said...

mr tan this is e 1st time i come into your blog. may i give my thumb up and utmost respect for your far-reaching insights.

with my bow,
junior slave

Anonymous said...

Hey Lucky
di you read the article in the straits jacket this morning with the speech of the dear leader?
I almost spilled my coffee all over the table.
I think senility is taking its toll
So let me get this straight.
Elections in singapore are free.
You singaporean are stupid.
If you do not vote for him and his party there will be no jobs in singapore, you will be out of work and wont be able to pay for your HDB flat and very important you wont get an upgrade.
Yeah right.
Is this guy on crack or what?

Anonymous said...

MM Lee has been exemplary. Even at an elderly age of 80+, he is still working for the good of Singapore.

I guess the rest of the S'poreans have to follow his example and postpone one's retirement age.

Mr Tan, I support your view that ministers like MM Lee do deserve a pay rise, just for effort alone, despite his ageing faculties.

Anonymous said...

I would like to give Mr Khaw credit. I think the $500 mil set aside for Silver Medifund is a step in the right direction. Just make sure it does not become too difficult to get this medifund, such that only $1mil is disbursed at the end of 2008! I find it quite telling that such good news are submerged within the depths of the home page of ST - which again says alot of our reluctance to publicise such good social policies of the government!

Hades said...

Brilliant satire sir! I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry when I read your post.

Anonymous said...

Interesting tales from USA .

Sounds scary.

Anonymous said...

change is the only constant, so say some elites. but nothing increases the change in ones pockets than calculated changes isn't it? so values also change. strategic changes come about as one third of youths embrace the forbidden changes. here lies the hiddem gem of hypocricy in sacrificial changes in that it betrays one's integrity, honor and true values. no wonder the veteran recently commented that no one gravitates towards remoteness because they liked solitarity. and the veteran is right to accept that his imposition of a twisted fate allows him that great wealth and following isn't it?

oh how low can the pathetics descend?
oh, the shameless justification of a truly inhuman life defined perhaps?

puertas metalicas said...

I suppose one and all should browse on it.

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