Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pushing a cleaner's brush instead of a grandchild's pram

April 6th, 2007 Winston Loong provided us an article by Seah Chiang Nee (04-03-07)
Below is an excerpt ...

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. 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 globalization, 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. 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 wither 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. 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.


Focus for the Family said...

hewlee wrote: Not all grandparents would like to be caregivers to their grandchildren for a varity of reasons.

With a positive attitude, a cleaner's (or any suitable) job can contribute to the well being of the retiree.

I once attended a retiree's talk ...The speaker said retired at 62, life expectancy in Singapore is around 80 years, so you still have a better of 18 years to live on ... what are you planning to do? You may be a Manager, Director, etc. of your former Company or Organisation, but now you are nobody. You are just yourself, no secretary, no subordinates to help you to do what you wanted to do.

The well-off group of retirees may know how to change course, pick up a new skill or interest. The less well-off and uneducated group of retirees may have no other option but ot take on any job they are comfortable with.

Focus for the Family said...

Hee Kuan wrote: The measure of the progress made by a team is the relative position of their weaker members. The distance between the top and the bottom must not be too far apart.

Old China was one such society before "revolution" erupted. A robust and prevalent "middle class" has a very great moderating effect.

What's a good value system?
The citizenry should know where they are in the scheme of things? We must respect our elders and don't ask too many questions? We must learn to accept our lot in life? Views and opinions are only in the preserves of the "EDUCATED"?

Focus for the Family said...

Lohman wrote: I doubt we will ever achieve "zero defect" unless the poor and very poor and uneducated, the homeless are given special attention - be it sufficient food, clear of debts arising from gambling - legal and illegal, provided with accommodation and meeting health needs. Of course, there is a heavy welfare cost and burden to the State. Even then there will still be a minority under public assistance scheme who have become comfortable and refused to work although active and able-bodied.

The solution? Philip Yeo had said it recently and I agree with him based on my own experience - develop a good value system and get the citizenry to abide by it.

Despite the efforts put in, I strongly believe the caviar and the plain bubor will continue to prevail in the population for economic reasons and practice of different cultures.

Focus for the Family said...

Hee Kuan wrote: The whole of S'pore is working for the Authorities, CEOs and businesses (million $$$s).

Our children dutifully protect S'pore for them to live safely. The powers that be never fail to tell us, we should be eternally grateful to them for having created the environment so that we can find "work".

We should be thankful this put food on our tables and we should not have too much, as $290 should be enough fro each family in old age.

If you need to work on, then retraining should put you in good stead to be a cleaner, a retriever at the airport, a sweeper at housing estates etc. These old folks do not have the means to amuse themselves, no yacht to go to, no clubs to visit, no fancy restaurants to eat at ...

What a poor prospect for us ordinary S'poreans. Not a happy ending in a society that claims to be prospering? When caviar exist together with plain bubor ... it does not auger well !!!