Work longer and retire at 65? No, thanks

PHOTO: The Star

MOST working people disagree with the suggestion submitted to the Government that the retirement age be extended from 60 to 65.

They said stopping work at the age of 60 would allow them to have some time for themselves.

Some pointed out that the increase in age comes with more health concerns and lower productivity. They are not opposed to such extension being offered as an option for those who are willing to work beyond 60, but think making it mandatory would be counter-productive.

Retired teacher Ng Min Hong, 61, said working until 60 was the limit for her.

"I just retired last year, and I think working for more than 30 years in the education sector is enough.

"I still want to enjoy life before I get too old and frail to do anything.

"Retirement at 60 is the right age for me to enjoy the fruits of my labour," she told MetroPerak.

Earlier this month, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim clarified that the Government was not planning to increase the mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65.

She said extensive research needed to be carried out first because the mandatory retirement age was only increased to 60 in July 2013.

It was also reported that while the Government had received suggestions to raise the retirement age to 65, it had to study the viability of the move.

Ng said if the suggestion was indeed viable, retiring at 65 should only be made optional, not mandatory. Some people may want to carry on working after the age of 60, but not all.

"There are workers out there in their late 50s or early 60s who still need to earn money to support their children.

"Without a steady income, that would be difficult to do. So they should be allowed to continue working if they want," she said.

Form Six senior assistant Abdul Aziz Sulaiman, 49, shares her views. He disagrees with the suggestion to increase the retirement age to 65.

"For me, 60 is already senior enough for a civil servant.

"When you are at that age, you have handled a great deal of stress, and as you get older, you may not perform well enough.

"Usually, by the time Malaysians reach 60, they are already suffering from one or two chronic diseases," he said.

Abdul Aziz said he was already coping with high blood pressure at his age.

"Working in your senior years can be very stressful, especially when you have health complications.

"If you can keep the condition under control, you are lucky, but if you cannot, you will only suffer in the workforce," he said.

Abdul Aziz said he planned to retire at 60 and not earlier because he still had to look after his children.

"My eldest is 15 years old and my youngest is only two. We will have to financially support them for many more years.

"But my wife is seven years younger than I am, so after I retire, my wife will still be earning a steady income," said the father of six.

A retired senior administrator, who wants to be known only as Cheong, 58, said she too disagreed with the suggestion to raise the retirement age.

"After working for so many years, I lost interest in my job before I retired at 56.

"Furthermore, with a slew of health complications bogging me down, working became even more stressful for me because I was not fit.

"I get tired easily, yet I still had to persevere. Every day before my retirement felt almost like surviving a battle," she said.

Cheong, who has two children, said she could retire at 56 because her husband, also a civil servant, wanted to retire at 60.

"Only my youngest daughter still needed financial support as she was a university student at the time.

"I realised that we could still get by with my husband's salary," she said.

Asset management senior manager Azrul Yahaya, 30, said increasing the retirement age would also impact the younger generation, as it would limit career advancement opportunities for younger workers.

"Younger workers have better work productivity, but if the seniors are staying on in the company for a longer time, it does not matter how productive the young workers are.

"At a relatively young age, you would be struggling with tough workload and limited career development, which is why I disagree with the suggestion to increase the retirement age," he said.

Not everyone is against the idea, though. And not necessarily because they love work.

Information supervisor Fatimah Mohd Isa, 45, said it did not matter to her if the mandatory age was 60 or 65, because she would like to work as long as she was able.

"Honestly, I would love to retire as early as possible and spend time going to a surau, praying and studying the Quran. But with financial commitments and children to look after, retiring early is simply not practical at all," she said.

The mother of two children, aged 17 and 21, said she had to look after the younger child as he was still financially-dependent.

"He wants to further his studies at a higher-learning institution.

"It's impossible to get by on my husband's salary alone. We will have no choice but to work as long as it is required of us," she said.