Opposition leader and lawyer Lim Tean responded with a vehement no to former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Calvin Cheng’s assertion that the retirement age in Singapore be extended to between 70 and 75.
The gist of Mr Tean’s argument: Fix the flawed CPF system, and “STOP making Singaporeans work longer!”
Mr Cheng’s reason for the extension was to ensure that the Central Provident Fund (CPF), the national savings plan, is sufficient.
On Friday, February 22, Mr Cheng had wrote a Facebook post that began with this statement: “The CPF problem cannot be solved merely by pushing back drawdown dates, or stretching it out.”
Mr Cheng’s argument is that people’s lives have gotten longer, and therefore it’s “impossible” for the retirement age to remain the same as it was in years past.
The former MP said that welfare states in Europe have the same problem, and in fact, he says it is even “worse” there. He claims that since people were promised they can retire in their 60s, the state ends up having to support them for a full third of their life spans.
Mr Cheng then gets to his main point, asserting that before the problem gets worse, “Our leaders must have the courage to tell Singaporeans that retiring at 62 and then drawing down CPF at 65 will get harder and harder since people will live longer.”
His main point: “People must be encouraged to work longer, since we are also healthier as we age.
If people are to live till 90, retirement should not be till at least 70, or even 75 for CPF savings to last.
Most people cannot expect to retire at 62 and then spend their next 30 years living off their savings.”
Some netizens disagreed with Mr Cheng. Clarence Leo pointed out that people are sometimes retired from work whether they like it or not. “I am afraid it is not as simple as that. A lot of people are compulsorily retired. It is not only the mindset of people that need to change, the employers also need to change. In fact, I feel that the govt should set up a special committee to come up with new work for the aged to be able to continue to work, and if necessary budget in for assisting companies to start off.”
Another netizen named Vic Ho wrote, “Let’s be realistic. How many decent jobs are there for people older than 65?”
To which Mr Cheng replied, “Vic Ho have to take what you can. You can’t be unemployed for 30 years.”
But the commenters on Mr Cheng’s page were fairly mild, compared to Lim Tean’s response.
First of all, he called the CPF “A Failed System Which Requires Complete Overhaul!”
Mr Lim said that the CPF has made life hard for elderly Singaporeans because of the “absurdly Low returns of 2.5% which CPF has been paying for the last 18 years, an artificial rate which is the lowest in the world and does not even keep pace with real inflation.”
He added to this that “the ridiculously priced HDB “assets” they “own” which have severely depleted their CPF accounts,” plus mandatory health shields and rising health care fees have also taken their toll.
According to Mr Lim, the entire CPF system requires a complete overhaul.
“STOP making Singaporeans work longer! It is not the solution when you have a fundamentally flawed system that is in place which enriches the Government and impoverishes Singaporeans.
What needs to be done is to tear down the current CPF system and replace it with a fairer system which ensures true retirement adequacy for all Singaporeans!”
This is not the first time Mr Lim has said this. Around Chinese New Year, he wrote, “We have a broken CPF System which must be completely overhauled in order to give dignity to our old and elderly.
Ask yourself this question on this the first day of the Lunar New Year. Is this the society and the home we desire for ourselves and our children, or can we do much better ? Singapore deserves Better.”
On February 22, he said that his party would return the CPF to age 55, writing in another Facebook post, “I keep reiterating that our CPF is a failed and broken system which needs a complete overhaul. And that is why Peoples Voice, the Party I lead, will return CPF at 55. We are the only Party to make this commitment to Singaporeans. Enough of all the shenanigans.”
The day before that, on February 21, he posted, “It is very sad to learn that the elderly only get an average payout of $355 per month from CPF. That is why so many of our elderly are destitute. It is not a state Singaporeans will like to find themselves in when they grow old. Our CPF System is completely broken which is why it needs a total overhaul. We cannot pretend that it is working well and that Singaporeans can rely on it in old age.
I have been speaking out against our flawed CPF System since I entered politics in 2015, and my Party will continue to speak out against it until there are fundamental reforms carried out.”