Asset-rich, cash-poor retirees not at fault

Asset-rich, cash-poor retirees not at fault

I disagree with Professor Benedict Koh, director of the Singapore Management University's Centre for Silver Security, that the asset-rich, cash-poor phenomenon is an outcome of over-investment in property ("Asset-rich, cash-poor retirees speak up"; last Saturday).

It is our economic success in a fast-changing socio-economic landscape, accompanied by hyper-inflation and runaway property prices, that has created this problem.

What can asset-rich, cash-poor retirees do when the environment around them has changed so rapidly over the past few decades that they are unable to adapt?

Singapore has one of the highest home ownership rates in the world. Members of the "pioneer generation" worked very hard in order to buy their homes.

It is not their fault that their Central Provident Fund savings have become insufficient for their retirement because of high inflation and changes in Singapore's tax system, including the introduction of consumption tax and progressive tax. Many now find themselves living in one of Asia's most expensive cities.

A home is not a motel. Should an inclusive society force its elderly retirees to uproot from their homes and downgrade because of changed circumstances?

The Government should be more magnanimous towards these people. It should offer them lower health-care and eldercare costs, as well as other social benefits to lighten their burden in their "winter years".

Paul Chan Poh Hoi


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