"Never Retire" - MM Lee
Thank you MM Lee. Now we can skip all the useless and worthless talk about pushing the retirement age higher and higher every few years. The term 'retirement age' in Singapore carries very different meaning from other developing countries. In other developed countries, when the govt commits to a retirement age, all govt policies on healthcare, pension and taxation are steered towards making sure workers are taken care of once they reach the retirement age. It is a promise that, however hard your struggle to earn a living is today, you can look forward to retirement at a certain age. Shifting retirement age is a very big issue in other countries and is seen as a solution that is taken at the last resort. In France, people have taken to streets to protest the shifting of retirement to 62. The man who wants to do it Sarkozy says he share the pain of workers and has to convince them that it is only done because it is necessary. Here in Singapore the word retirement has a different meaning and the most important implication of a change of retirement age is when you can withdraw your CPF. There is no govt pension, retirement medical plan or housing to look forward to. You pay for your own retirement. If you don't accumulate enough, you can't retire....simple as that. With the current income gap and rising cost of living, a large segment of the population will never be able to retire regardless of retirement age. Those who struggle the hardest to make a living will also end up working the longest. The govt pushes the CPF withdrawal further and further back to force them to work longer....they have no choice as they depend on their CPF to retire. Those who cannot accumulate enough in their CPF can never retire. The people who can retire earlier are the ones with the highest income and don't depend on the CPF. In many countries, the system attempts to bring about great equality by setting a retirement age and commiting resources to ensure that everyone can retire once they reach that age. This is important because it tells workers that no matter how bad their struggle is when they work for decades at lower paying jobs, they can look forward to a decent retirement. Here we have the biggest income gap in the developed world and a retirement scheme that extends the inequality into retirement with many never able to retire.
MM Lee also spoke about building a separate class of people from the ordinary citizens known as the intellectual class. This class of people will be formed mainly from students imported from India and China. He also said there is insufficient talent among Singaporeans and that the Malaysian talents we imported are "not so bright".
"...they are staying because going back does not give them the opportunities we are offering them here..." - MM Lee
As a strategy, a country should not close it doors to external talent. If you bring in the right people, it can create great opportunities for your own citizens and improve their quality of life. But here, MM Lee is talking about creating a special class of people and giving them special opportunities. I strongly believe that the future of Singapore should depend primarily on developing our own talents and importing foreign talents only if it benefits our ordinary citzens. Once the govt pursue a strategy of importing talent and giving them opportunities, it relegates the development of our own people to a lower priority. Take sports as an example. Why would they bother to scout and develop local talent when they can just hop over to China and bring in talents - it is so much easier and the results more instaneous. To raise the standard of a certain sports requires the (sports) association to popularise it, create clubs in the schools and special programmes for those who are talented. Once you can import talent, you can basically forget about all the hard work of getting locals involved involve in the sport and developing local talent.
Why is MM Lee so obsessed with having an 'intellectual class' anyway? If you have been listening to him closely all these years, you will understand that the PAP believes that it is solely responsible for the success of Singapore. This plays down the contributions of men and women who formed the number 1 workforce in the world for decades - a workforce that never went on strike, accepted less benefits, worked longer hours and took CPF cuts during recessions. This generation of workers are now heading for retirement with little medical benefits and pension because they took low wages to build this country taking us to where we are today. While the PAP govt pays itself the highest salaries in the world, these workers have the least benefits among workers in the developed world. MM Lee talks about expanding the 'intellectual class' by 3 times using foreigners and keeping them by giving them special opportunities. This is what ordinary Singapore get for being obedient citizens - an intellectual class comprising mainly of foreigner sitting on top them and taking away their opportunities to succeed.