Man at His Best

Old Folk Overload

Malaysia set to become aged country by 2030. Cue depopulation.

BY Jason S Ganesan | Aug 11, 2016 | Culture

Public Domain Pictures

If you’re bearing a grudge against Baby Boomers leaving you a Randian nightmare world with no jobs, no housing, broken politics and a dying environment, suck it up because they aren’t going anywhere.

At the International Social Security Conference 2016, The Employees Provident Fund or EPF reiterated a UN projection that states Malaysia is set to become an aged country by 2030, with 14 percent of the population aged over 60; and if the projection proves true, a super-aged country with 21 percent over 60.

At which point depopulation might start to occur. Like in Japan, where Nagoro exists.

But of course our Asian values dictate that we care for our elders, which is why we’ve fought for a robust social protection mechanism that will protect them in their golden years.

Well, it turns out we don’t really have one.

EPF has of late been trying to engage different stakeholders to create social protection legislation and policies—such as a minimum retirement age, minimum wage and re-employment—after announcing last year that most workers in Malaysia who are a year away from retirement do not have enough money in their EPF accounts.

Specifically, 80 percent of contributors to EPF do not have enough to live on RM 800 a month for 20 years after retirement (about RM 192,000), which is still lower than the already artificially low poverty line income of RM 830 per month (which is per household, not per capita).

EPF chairperson Samsudin Osman said that while it was all well and good that the average lifespan for a Malaysian has increased to 75 from 50 in the '50s, the real issue was the quality of life, not the length of it.

Samsudin added that there are models of social protection for the elderly that we can emulate, such as those implemented in the EU, Australia and even Singapore—where the sight of a septuagenarian sweeping the floor of a Starbucks is simultaneously empowering or soul-crushing, depending on how you look at it.

Re-employment and a higher retirement age might be great when there are plenty of jobs and fair wages to go around, but bringing it all back home, Bank Negara assistant governor Jessica Chew Cheng Lian said at the same conference that 92 percent of currently employed Malaysians are concerned that they won’t have enough savings after retirement.