19 August 2007

Retirees: A sheer waste of valuable human capital


THE suggestion by K.T. of Mentakab to give retirees tax exemptions ("Give them exemption from taxes" — NST, Aug 13), and your report "More than a third of retirees need to work again," (NST, Aug 9) reflect the sorry state our retirees are in.

Unlike countries such as Australia and others in Europe, where workers retire at 60 and above, Malaysian employees, save for politicians, lecturers and bankers, retire at the still zestful age of 55 or 56.

This has resulted in many able-bodied and healthy Malaysians being thrown into a life of idling and doing practically nothing useful but watching television, reading papers, tending to their grandchildren or gardens or just whiling away time among themselves.

Those who retire with a pension are not too badly off as they can at least take care of their own needs. But those retirees without pensions suffer badly.

Without much funds at their disposal and bored with no purposeful activity, many of these retirees quickly succumb to illness. Some become very sensitive and burdensome to their family and society.
It is really a shame because many of these retirees are willing to contribute more to society, given the chance.

Our prime minister and other leaders have often emphasised the need to improve human capital, the most valuable asset in our effort to achieve Vision 2020.

This asset is already available at our disposal. All that is needed is to utilise the retirees. The retirees certainly have the benefit of experience, knowledge and, more importantly, ample time and the sincerity and willingness to contribute to society.

1 comment:

wickedwarhol said...

When should people be made to retire? 55? 58? 65? Should there be a compulsory age limit?
Many old people work well into their 70s and 80s, running families, countries or corporations. Other people, however, despite being fit and highly talented, are forced to retire in their or even earlier because of company or national regulations. So, should people be allowed to continue working for as long as they want or whether they should be encouraged to retire at a particular stage?
There are several arguments for allowing older people to continue working as long as they are able. First of all, older employees have an immense amount of knowledge and experience which can be lost to a business or organization if they are made to retire. A second point is that older employees are often extremely loyal employees and are more willing to implement company policies than younger less committed staff. However, a more important point is regarding the attitudes in society to old people. To force someone to resign or retire at 55 or 58 indicates that the society does not value the input of these people and that effectively their useful life is over.
Allowing older people to work indefinitely however is not always a good policy. Age alone is no guarantee of ability. Many younger employees have more experience or skills than older staff, which may have been stuck in one area or unit for most of their working lives. Having compulsory retirement allows new ideas in an organization. In addition, without age limits, however arbitrary, many people would continue to work purely because they did not have any other plans or roles. A third point of view is that older people should be rewarded by society for their life’s labor by being given generous pensions and the freedom to enjoy their leisure.
With many young people unemployed or frustrated in low-level positions, there are often calls to compulsorily retire older workers. However, this can affect the older individual’s freedom - and right - to work and can deprive society of valuable experience and insights. I feel that giving workers more flexibility and choice over their retirement age will benefit society and the individual.