By TAY TIAN YAN
Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily
While many give their thumbs-up to the proposed extension of retirement age, a different voice is also heard.
Some businesses are of the opinion that the retirement age should be fixed at 55 lest it would prevent the natural process of corporate metabolism, thus increasing redundant workforce.
To these businesses, aged workers--with receded efficiency and reduced learning capacity yet claiming relatively thick incomes and perks--are a definite liability.
On the other hand, some feel why cap the retirement age at 60 instead of 65 or 70 like in some European countries as well as our neighbour Singapore?
These aged workers feel that they are both experienced and knowledgeable besides their loyalty, and since they are still capable of contributing towards the organisation, they should be allowed to do just that. More importantly, of course, they do not wish to see their bank accounts shrinking by the day after they leave their jobs.
Such conflicting views have been experienced in many Western countries, and sure enough there are ways to resolve the issue.
There is something called as life planning in the West. Many do not want to see their entire lives bound by their jobs, and feel they should have a little luxury of enjoying life after retirement.
Meanwhile, they also seek economic independence, stability. job satisfaction and self fulfilment.
This wasn't so hard in the past, as many companies practised life-long employment, offering lucrative remunerations and perks, such as GM and Philips.
In the meantime, the governments also offered excellent safety net, pensions and healthcare services.
As such, these Western countries were paradise for pensioners, who would bask on the golden beaches along the Mediterranean coast or tee off in Florida's many superb courses.
Unfortunately, good times don't last forever. Under the weight of several recessions at the turn of the century, governments drastically slash their expenses. Large corporations, suffering tremendous losses, stop their generous handouts.
While strengthening their countries' corporate competitiveness, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher's administrations also pulled back housing, healthcare and retirement benefits.
During the 1980s, many middle-aged people in the West were out of job while the old people were left unattended to and uncared for.
Government, NGOs and universities conducted a post-mortem and came up with a solution. Among the significant measures was re-education and re-training to keep aged people abreast of the latest techniques so that they can start their own careers or find suitable new jobs.
The effects are seen, and governments and companies are relieved of their burdens of old people, who are now amalgamated into the social and economic system to become a new force to move the economy.
Benefits handed out to the old people are fewer. In their stead, they have become more independent and self-confident.
While extending the retirement age, perhaps our government should also take cue from the developed countries in the social reconstruction of senior citizens.