National Day Rally 2015: Re-employment age to be raised from 65 to 67 by 2017, says PM Lee

SINGAPORE - The re-employment age will be raised from 65 to 67, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in the National Day Rally on Sunday.

The change will be made by 2017, after the coming general election, he said.

"Many people in their 60s want to work longer. They say, 'If I sit at home and do nothing, I will go ga-ga'," he said.

Mr Lee added that unions and workers were happy when the re-employment age was raised to 65 in 2012, and employers have accepted it and are starting to benefit from it.

People have told him that they want to keep working as long as they are healthy, he said.

"I reply 'Yes, I agree fully. We need to do this, but at the right time'. We must give our companies time to adjust, to work out practical arrangements, so that re-employed workers can be productive and not a burden on their companies," he said.

Mr Lee made the announcement as a "sneak peek" into a new action plan by the Ministerial Committee on Ageing led by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong. The plan will hopefully "make Singapore a model for successful ageing", he said. Details will be announced soon.

Currently, firms are required by the Retirement and Re-employment Act to offer re-employment to eligible workers when they turn 62, up to the age of 65.

Those workers should be medically fit to continue working and should have been assessed by their employer to have at least a satisfactory work performance.

The Government first set the goal of raising the re-employment age to 67 in 1993.

In his speech, Mr Lee emphasised that the elderly will always have a place in Singapore. "We honour them because they brought us up, and brought Singapore here, and they will always have something to contribute to Singapore."

The Pioneer Generation (PG) Package was created to express gratitude to these seniors, he said.

PG Ambassadors also visited other elderly Singaporeans in their homes, and these visits led to some heart-warming stories that were collected in a book launched last month.

He cited the example of how two neighbours - Mr Mutu Sammy, 69, and Mr Ching Chong Kwi, 81, - were neighbours and close friends for 10 years.

Mr Mutu lost a leg in a traffic accident long ago. Mr Ching helps look after his plants, changes light bulbs for him and drives him to medical checkups.

"Mr Ching speaks Mandarin, Mr Mutu English, but they talk to each other in Malay," said Mr Lee. "This is the true kampong spirit."

Both men, he added, told the PG Ambassadors that they were very happy with the Pioneer Generation Package and card.

Mr Mutu gets $100 each month from the Pioneer Generation disability assistance scheme, and when he visits the specialist outpatient clinic, he pays only $12, noted Mr Lee.

"We are grateful to our Pioneers. At this SG50 NDR, we should thank them again, so thank you, Pioneers."


This article was first published on August 23, 2015.
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