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Jul 29, 2010

Ageless Retirement

Photo Credit: Don Wong
Source: TODAY, Thursday, July 29, 2010

This is a blog topic which is close to the heart of yours truly at age 62 this year.

Towards the end of this blog after quoting the newspaper report on TODAY, July 29, 2010 and an earlier report from The Straits Times, January 14, 2008, I would like to share my humble and frankly personal experience.

"Live, learn and venture overseas Minister Mentor Lee on not retiring, and how Singaporeans gain new ideas from going abroad". By Esther Ng

SINGAPORE — Fifteen years ago, when he was asked why Singaporeans were reluctant to venture overseas to learn new skills, Mr Lee Kuan Yew said it was because Singapore
was too comfortable.

However, in 15 years or so, the Minister Mentor expects that the Republic will have an intellectual class "maybe three times as big as what we have now". The war for talent is turning on two counts here, it seems.

Speaking at a dialogue on the leadership challenge in productivity and sustainable growth, Mr Lee said firstly Singapore was getting “a lot of talented people” from China, India and Malaysia.

“I’m quite sure that in 15, 20 years, when all these bright kids we've attacted from overseas grow up and mature - educated here and maybe educated also overseas - we’re going to have an intellectual class maybe three times as big as what we have now,” he said. These talents will accelerate Singapore’s development.

But a change is also happening among young Singaporeans, he assessed when asked by consultant Philip Merry the same question he asked Mr Lee 15 years ago.

Young Singaporeans now know the value of overseas experience in moving up the corporate ladder and for learning new ways to do things, said Mr Lee, the special guest at the Singapore National Employers Federation's 30th anniversary CEO and
Employers Summit, which ends today.

“I think the young have taken a different approach. They know it adds to their CV for the next promotion, or in a different company, to have experience abroad,” he said.

Mr Lee himself gained new ideas from spending time in Britain as a young man in his 20s, and later in the United States. For instance, he had noticed in Boston that planes took off and landed over water, and hence created “no footprint of sound of
the aircraft over the city”. So he opted to reclaim land in Changi for a new airport, where planes would take off over water, instead of building a second runway at Paya Lebar.

Mr Lee also compared Singapore to Japan, which he said is ahead in productivity levels due to the latter’s greater employee-company cooperation and bottom-up rise through the ranks.

But the Republic makes up for it "the Singapore way": Being a safe, clean and liveabloe city, well-connected to the rest of the world, with an English-speaking environment, and by embracing foreigners.
The following topic on retirement by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew was shared with insight of working experience for elderly Singaporeans publicly as follows:
'Retirement means death'
Source: The Straits Times, January 14, 2008

A PURPOSE IN LIFE

'With nothing to do, no purpose in life, you'll just degrade, go to seed. The human being needs a challenge.'
- MINISTER MENTOR LEE KUAN YEW

THE three words 'retirement means death' reverberated around the Suntec Convention Centre theatre yesterday as Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew addressed the problem of an ageing society at a dialogue.

'We've got to educate those about to retire: Don't retire, work. Retirement means death,' said MM Lee with a laugh.

And he meant every word of what he said to participants at the Silver Industry Conference and Exhibition (Sicex).

'I would not be able to speak to you in this way if I had not led a very active life, connected with many people throughout the world and tried to interpret it to make sense for Singapore,' said the elder statesman, who turns 85 this year.

Like many developed and fast developing countries around the world, Singapore has an ageing population due to longer lifespans and declining birth rates.

'Maybe if we had not started family planning, it would not have been so bad. But then we would not have (economic) growth,' quipped Mr Lee to much laughter from conference participants.

Earlier in the 70-minute dialogue, which revealed a light-hearted and more personal side of the MM, he said that Singaporeans who believed they could stop work at 55 to drink wine and play golf were 'done for'.

'If the mindset is that 'I'll reach retirement age at 62, I'm old, I can't work anymore, now is the time I enjoy life,' I think you're making the biggest mistake of your life.'

Research has shown that those who retire and lead sedentary lives 'die off very quickly', said the man who started jogging regularly in his 50s and now also keeps fit by swimming and cycling.

'With nothing to do, no purpose in life, you'll just degrade, go to seed. The human being needs a challenge.'
How do we define "ageless" or "ageist"?

There is no such thing as an "ageist"...the junior citizen 40 years ago will become a senior citizen 40 years later...just a matter of time!
- Anonymous

Regardless of every people everywhere, nobody can claim how long a person can live for how long for how when.

I beg your pardon to mention "unkindly" that if a person were not to live long enough the mandatory retirement age which varies the labour law from country to country, there would not be any issue for those who die younger before a person reaches retirement age is unpreditable.

I would like to blog to express what I have learnt, not for comparison how a person live, not for judgement on the life standard of the individual at whatever era.

My father passed away at age 60 after he migrated from China to Singapore at the age of 18 years to work as a book-keeper (an expert abacus before the invention of electronic calculator). His employer of the import and export company at Amoy Street did not follow the law at what age to retire. The boss of his former employer was of my father's contemporary.

The traditional company policy is simply, "to work for as long as the employee can work as long can live and as healthy the employee can be useful to the company. No such a thing as retirement". Whatever that is manmade (eg setting retirement at age 62), can be man unmade.

Thus I believe that Minister Mentor has a similar philosophy on retirement, didn't him? However, the boss of a company is different from MM's policy on a national level.

There may a myth most people hold is: "Of course, Minister Mentor is different in the type of job he is capable of performing".

How then the difference of a less educated or non-literate person with hawker assistant, dish-washer, security guard, insurance campaign telemarketing sales, etc.

"Ageism" in the workplace is a serious issue for many elderly. Seniors often face hiring discrimination because employers think that they are not worth training, or not fit to perform a job; when they offer employment based on a fixed age for "retirement".

Related to a classic discrimination experiment of brown versus blue eyes, the "Colour of Harmony (2) " perceived "ageist" attitude should be certain employers in both public and private sectors in Singapore, which hopefully a mindset change of younger human resources of westernised corporates and ask them as Minister Mentor had mentioned: "Before you discuss your future, remember how we got here".

How many the younger employers will consider themselves when they are affected by the "aged retirement". Work is a human dignity to whatever menial workers. Its not for them to tell themselves whatever others decide to continue working whatever he could contribute, earn a living for the compassionate human beings.

The reply to the following comments are added on to the main blog for your convenience:

Thanks to Philip, Chun See and yg for sharing your personal views and inputs.

The personal decision of each elderly individual's circumstances for monetary reasons, to help charity organisations for volunteerism, to contribute community services and to be helpful in any ways to society without the needs as a salaried work.

Philip contributes actively to various organisations which would otherwise be a loss to these benefactors if he is unable to serve the community beyond the official retirement age?

Not by legislation. In fact, that is the reason why an age could be set for retirement. Is the correct age is 55, 65 or until death? For that matter, the age to die is never legislated by anybody in anywhere in the world.

On the contrary, the German nation of Hitler had been subjected for many years to the ‘God-is-dead’ atheism of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900).

Nietzsche believed that Darwinian evolution would eventually produce the Übermensch, ‘a superman whose distance from the ordinary man is greater than the distance between man and ape’.Then a ‘super-race’ of such beings would impose its will on the weak and the worthless.

Obviously, those who prefer to retire which an ex-colleague mentioned: "For so many years to be working for people under the official retirement age, they want to do things for themselves, not for others".

My elderly neighbour who works as a hawker cleaner told me: "I need to earn some pocket money by working no matter how little money she earns as a dignified work ...who else to just as a "paiseh" handout or for begging". Elderly people are encouraged to work with dignity and not to think that a hawker cleaner or even those who collect discarded cardboards or a " karang guni" as a form of recycle business in a legal way.

As Chun See mentioned: "spend time with family and serve in the church and try to do work which I enjoy". The choice is the right of the individual.

Thanks to yg whom I share his sentiments in many ways:

"i will say to each his own. if you are happy working beyond your retirement, carry on. however, there are those who know how to make good use of their retirement. let them be".

The active age is at any age, not to be determined by anyone. My 73 year friend is an active line-dancer and enjoy himself. Should he be stopped to be happy as "retired"?

"Wise Old Owl" unk Dicko said...

Haha...no need to over react over MM's "Retirement means Death" headline-catching news. MM is the Master when he wants to capture an entire audience and I don't mean those inside the hall. He wants to ensure that people everywhere at the least talk,think, debate and discuss about it...just like what James and all of you are doing here (me too).

Obviously, simple retirement does not mean early death...no way! If that is indeed TRUE then the converse must also be TRUE (although left unsaid)...that as long as you work on and on and on...you WILL live to a ripe old age, maybe to the 90's.

No need to do deep research here. We all KNOW that can't be true at all.

So many of my really good friends in different fields of work have DIED while still at work and they were not even 60 yet!!! Not accidents by the way. Mostly poor health generated by TREMENDOUS WORK STRESS that exacerbated their once super-fit physical shape.

On the other hand, I know of so many who have retired in very good health age between 55 to 60 BUT WENT ON THE DECLINE MENTALLY and PHYSICALLY soon after retirement. They developed all sorts of medical problems and some died before their time...2,3 years after retiring.

What's the answer and solution to this? No,not MM"s extreme view.

You have all got it right...Phillip,YG, C See, James.

The answer is you must know yourself first.

What do you want out of life?

Then create a Life Plan to help yourself along. That may include retiring at 55,60, or whatever...and followed by your Chapter on post-retirement Plan. SEE?

In Life we need to have a good BALANCE to achieve the things we want, to ENJOY life to it's fullest. That requires some planning not simply working till we drop dead in the office,shop, street corner...

So MM's 3 word term should be elongated to perhaps "People who retire WITHOUT anything else to do, to occupy themselves...might die prematurely."

Labels:

9 Comments:

Blogger Philip said...

I definitely disagree with MM Lee Kuan Yew that "Retirement means death". He assumed that people after retirement have nothing to do. He is right if you 'chia pah tan si'. I retired about 3 years before my retiring age of 60. I chose to be free from employment and stress. I spent time doing my own works and travelling. I also volunteer my services with 3 organisations. I have retired for 18 years already and is still kicking.

July 29, 2010 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Icemoon said...

Haha, we know why the government comes out with those Singapore memory projects - to make the oldies recall and recall, to prevent Alzheimer.

MM is probably not the best person to lecture us on ageless retirement. I thought he is still drawing a paycheck? A considerable one too, try telling that to the old cleaning lady in the kopitiam who is also working.

July 29, 2010 at 6:45 PM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

I totally agree with Philip. How meaningless to "Live to work, and work to live".

Who knows when our time on this earth is up, and there are many things left undone.

How sad that many people who can afford to retire don't want to, but others who want to (retire) cannot afford to.

For me, I have made a conscious effort to slow down; spend time with family and serve in the church and try to do work which I enjoy.

July 29, 2010 at 10:28 PM  
Blogger yg said...

james, i will say to each his own. if you are happy working beyond your retirement, carry on. however, there are those who know how to make good use of their retirement. let them be.
some people seem to think that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. we are all different. some are 'lost' when they retire but some find retirement a wonderful phase in their life.

July 30, 2010 at 8:51 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks to Philip and Chun See for sharing your personal views and inputs.

The personal decision of each elderly individual's circumstances for monetary reasons, to help charity organisations for volunteerism, to contribute community services and to be helpful in any ways to society without the needs as a salaried work.

Philip contributes actively to various organisations which would otherwise be a loss to these benefactors if he is unable to serve the community beyond the official retirement age?

Not by legislation. In fact, that is the reason why an age could be set for retirement. Is the correct age is 55, 65 or until death? For that matter, the age to die is never legislated by anybody in anywhere in the world.

On the contrary, the German nation of Hitler had been subjected for many years to the ‘God-is-dead’ atheism of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900).

Nietzsche believed that Darwinian evolution would eventually produce the Übermensch, ‘a superman whose distance from the ordinary man is greater than the distance between man and ape’.Then a ‘super-race’ of such beings would impose its will on the weak and the worthless.

Obviously, those who prefer to retire which an ex-colleague mentioned: "For so many years to be working for people under the official retirement age, they want to do things for themselves, not for others".

My elderly neighbour who works as a hawker cleaner told me: "I need to earn some pocket money by working no matter how little money she earns as a dignified work ...who else to just as a "paiseh" handout or for begging". Elderly people are encouraged to work with dignity and not to think that a hawker cleaner or even those who collect discarded cardboards or a " karang guni" as a form of recycle business in a legal way.

As Chun See mentioned: "spend time with family and serve in the church and try to do work which I enjoy". The choice is the right of the individual.

Thanks to yg whom I share his sentiments in many ways: "i will say to each his own. if you are happy working beyond your retirement, carry on. however, there are those who know how to make good use of their retirement. let them be".

The active age is at any age, not to be determined by anyone. My 73 year friend is an active line-dancer and enjoy himself. Should he be stopped to be happy as "retired"?

July 31, 2010 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger unk Dicko said...

Haha...no need to over react over MM's "Retirement means Death" headline-catching news. MM is the Master when he wants to capture an entire audience and I don't mean those inside the hall. He wants to ensure that people everywhere at the least talk,think, debate and discuss about it...just like what James and all of you are doing here (me too).
Obviously, simple retirement does not mean early death...no way! If that is indeed TRUE then the converse must also be TRUE (although left unsaid)...that as long as you work on and on and on...you WILL live to a ripe old age, maybe to the 90,s.
No need to do deep research here. We all KNOW that can't be true at all.
So many of my really good friends in different fields of work have DIED while still at work and they were not even 60 yet!!! Not accidents by the way. Mostly poor health generated by TREMENDOUS WORK STRESS that exacerbated their once super-fit physical shape.
On the other hand, I know of so many who have retired in very good health age between 55 to 60 BUT WENT ON THE DECLINE MENTALLY and PHYSICALLY soon after retirement. They developed all sorts of medical problems and some died before their time...2,3 years after retiring.
What's the answer and solution to this? No,not MM"s extreme view.
You have all got it right...Phillip,YG, C See, James.
The answer is you must know yourself first.
What do you want out of life?
Then create a Life Plan to help yourself along. That may include retiring at 55,60, or whatever...and followed by your Chapter on post-retirement Plan. SEE?
In Life we need to have a good BALANCE to achieve the things we want, to ENJOY life to it's fullest. That requires some planning not simply working till we drop dead in the office,shop, street corner...
So MM's 3 word term should be elongated to perhaps " People who retire WITHOUT anything else to do, to occupy themselves...might die prematurely."

July 31, 2010 at 1:52 PM  
Blogger Andy Young* said...

Not many more years to live. Just enjoy. Travel, eat, read, exercise, meet friends, assist in a charity and spend time with the grandchildren.

"The years go by as quickly as a wink / Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think..."

July 31, 2010 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger PChew said...

Andy, you reminded me of the song
'Enjoy yourself, it's later than you think'.

You work and work for years
You don't know how to laugh
Imagine all the time you have
In your old rocking chair

August 2, 2010 at 7:02 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Hi Andy,

“Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”
- William Shakespeare

Re-adapted:

"Be not afraid of retirement; some are born affordable to retire with a comfortable retirement nest egg, and others keep themselves active to each his own ways, not "chia pah tan si". Enjoy the lucky ones on a enjoyable and deserved retirement..."

Cheers!

August 3, 2010 at 9:39 AM  

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