Press statement by MCA Spokesperson Chan Quin Er
*First & foremost an MP, Syed Saddiq must focus on all age groups & not just youths*
MCA takes note of the proposal by MTUC to extend the retirement age from the current 60 to 65 years. It is immature of Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq to reject the proposal, and demand that youths be the first to be given quality employment opportunities whilst ensuring that youths are given promotion. His demand is utmost irresponsible as it suggests pinning blame on potential retirees as hogging onto jobs.
The Muar MP gives a misrepresentation that employees in their late 40s and above have clenched all the high position posts with a lofty salary and perks. But not all are fortunate, and it is age discriminatory to make a sweeping generalisation as there are middle-aged persons or those close to retirement, who toil the long hours but just eke a humble wage of under RM5,000.
He must take cognisance of EPF reports whereby only 22 percent of the 6.7 million EPF active contributors aged 54 years have sufficient savings of RM196,800 or more to sustain themselves during retirement (Bernama, 15 May 2016).
Although Syed Saddiq has cited statistics that the Malaysian youth unemployment rate of 10.7 per cent is incomparable to developed countries such as Japan (3.9 per cent) and Singapore (5.9 per cent), bear in mind that both countries have a much higher retirement age. Japan gradually upped its retirement age to 68 while Singapore is seeking to further increase its retirement age from 63 to 65 years. He must also consider that 85% of Malaysian retirees do not have enough to sustain their lifestyle or keep up with the ever growing cost of living.
This age group facing retirement will potentially vacate about 1.25 million jobs. The Department of Statistics reveal that only 50.6% of persons aged between 55 to 60 years are still in workforce as of Q3, 2017. This figure might seem high, but considering that the youth potential joining the workforce to fill up this meagre void is about 5.1 million, the number of young adults securing a job outflanks retirees by 4 to 1. Extending the retirement age will not pose a threat to youths as the former’s numbers are insignificant.
EPF has also voiced concerns that many subscribers ran out of their EPF savings within three or five years after retiring although the life span for Malaysians had increased to 75 years, and that more worrying are cases where retirees withdrew 70% of their savings and spent the money in less than 30 days (The Star, 28 Dec 2019).
Enforcing the retirement age at 60 will vacate about 1.25 million jobs. Department of Statistics reveal that 50.6% of persons aged between 55 to 60 years are still in workforce as of Q3, 2017. This figure might seem high, but considering that the youth potential joining workforce is about 5.1 million a year, the number of young adults securing a job outflanks retirees by 4 to 1. Extending the retirement age will not pose a threat to youths as their numbers are insignificant.
In recent times too, there are news reports of elderly abandonment in public hospitals. Enabling people in their 60s to be gainfully employed will reduce the financial burden which younger adults feel are levied on them in having to care for their parents, or likewise, the dependency of the elderly unto the Social Welfare Department and the Ministry of Health.
Syed Saddiq may be the Minister of Youth and Sports, and the youngest elected representative ever appointed to be a Cabinet Minister. Nevertheless, he must be empathetic and put himself in the shoes of senior citizens who earn under RM5,000 a month and have a family to feed.
He must also be informed that for senior citizens who are either unmarried, or who have no children (biological or adopted) or whose offsprings had pre-deceased them, being gainfully employed for a longer period enables them to be financially self-reliant.
If he really wants to solve the youth unemployment issue, maybe he would like to go through the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto again of creating more NEW jobs. Do not neglect one age group for another. After all, we are all Malaysians.
Chan Quin Er