By Li Xueying
DOING away with an official retirement age will not bring about more job opportunities for older workers, said Mr Lim Boon Heng on Monday.
Instead, a 'practical step-by-step' approach through initiatives such as a flexible wage system and re-employment would be more effective in getting companies to offer work to older workers. Ultimately, what is key is to change mindsets to view the prospect of working as long as one can more positively, he said.
The Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, who oversees ageing issues, offered this perspective in Parliament in response to Nominated MP Laurence Wee and MP Ho Geok Choo (West Coast GRC) who wanted to know if the Government intends to abolish the retirement age.
It was introduced in Singapore with the Retirement Age Act in July 1993, and set at 60 then. This was raised to 62 in January 1999. The Act stipulates that employees below the retirement age cannot be dismissed because of their age.
Monday's discussion follows a lively debate sparked off by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew two weeks ago when he opined that he did not think there should be a retirement age. 'You work as long as you can work and you'll be healthier and happier for it,' he said at a dialogue on July 28.
It drew mixed reactions. While some felt the retirement age should stay to signal that older people should get their rest in their twilight years, others called for its abolition to debunk assumptions that older workers are not as productive.
[I think the picture accompanying this report is particularly sad. The old man hunched over with age, cleaning a toilet. Is that the job we are supposed to aspire to or at best hope for in our old age? Is this the practical consideration we should keep in mind?]