Many glad to have an option

Many glad to have an option

SINGAPORE - Sixty-five was the hottest number among some heartlanders on Friday, a day after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's May Day Rally speech.

This columnist was walking the ground to check out the sentiment after Mr Lee announced that Singaporeans who want to work beyond the age of 65 will eventually be able to do so under the law.

The official retirement age here is 62, although bosses must offer healthy workers who have performed satisfactorily re-employment from ages 62 to 65, or give them a one-off payment.

But negotiations among the unions, employers and the Government to further raise the ceiling will take time, Mr Lee said.

So I was actually taken by surprise by the grumbles I encountered at the Haig Road Cooked Food Centre on Friday.

Seated around a table are Mr Edwin Tong and four colleagues.

Mr Tong, a 50-year-old sales executive, grumbles: "Work even after I am 65? Crazy lah, this means I might end up working until I die."

The most animated in the group of five, he admits that he has grown "sick and tired" of trying to meet his sales quota each month.

Mr Tong declines to give more details about his job, but reveals that he "also cannot afford not to work".

"I have to support my wife, three children - all still in school - and my parents."

As it is, he says, he cannot even set aside any savings from his monthly $5,000 take-home pay.

But when I gently point out that the announcement only means that he will be able to work beyond a certain age, if he wants to, Mr Tong realises that he may have confused re-employment age with retirement age.

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