With the retirement age for civil servants at 60, Malaysia is now on par with other countries in Asean. However, the retirement limit in the private sector still makes Malaysia the only Asean country where people retire below 60.
ONE has to admit that most people in their 50s today don't look like those of the same age from before.
Not only do they look younger but they also generally appear healthier, more energetic and are as driven as people 15 to 20 years younger. This is due to the biological or body age, which improves as the standard of living increases and medical care improves, in line with the country's development.
It is, therefore, a waste to let these valuable, experienced and productive members of the workforce go when they reach the age of 55.
Economic development that brings about improved living conditions, better quality healthcare and greater health awareness will result in higher life expectancy.
When the country achieved its independence, the average life expectancy was 55 years. This has since improved to 73 years for men and 76 years for women.
This is one of the reasons the government proposed a higher retirement age for the private sector. For the civil servants, the retirement age has been increased from 55 to 56 in 2005; to 58 in 2008; and will be increased further to 60.
A longer life means you have to do more to support yourself financially. Given the collapse of extended families and couples opting to marry or have kids later, this means that when many Malaysians reach 55, they would still have college- or school-going kids who are dependent on them.
Unlike civil servants, employees in the private sector are not on a pension scheme that guarantees monthly pension until they pass away. Then, their spouses will continue to receive the pensions.
For the government, the extension of the retirement age in the private sector would mean bigger tax revenue as about half a million people will be retained in the workforce for five years. Coupled with smaller welfare expenditure as fewer older people are living below the poverty line, the monies can be spent to improve further the rakyat's well-being.
A technical committee that includes the Malaysian Employers Federation and Malaysian Trades Union Congress is currently fine-tuning the Private Sector Retirement Age Bill, which contains proposal to raise the retirement age of private sector employees from 55 to 60, with an option of a four-year extension.
Some employees aged over 50, who believe they have "foolproof" retirement plans, may not be that happy with the proposed extension of retirement age.
Others, who are relying on their Employees' Provident Fund savings for about 20 years of their retirement life, could be disappointed upon discovery that their savings could not be stretched that long, given the inflation factor and unforeseen maladies.
The young and ambitious, meanwhile, should not feel that a higher retirement age will slow down their career advancement.
If salaried jobs don't promise satisfaction, the young could venture into business. Opportunities and assistance for young entrepreneurs are aplenty in Malaysia.
Extending the retirement age may be an issue for organisations with poor performers and low-achievers. However, with the right approach, motivation and opportunity, employers would be able to turn them into a productive workforce. When everything else fails, employers can exercise the employment law, especially on those with disciplinary issues.
With the retirement age for civil servants at 60, Malaysia is now on par with other countries in Asean.
However, the retirement limit in the private sector still makes Malaysia the only Asean country where people retire below 60.