According to the latest labour statistics from the Ministry of Manpower, the number of Singaporeans, aged 60 and above, being forced out of retirement to work has more than doubled from 5.5% in 2006 to 13% in 2016.
The “achievement” is a result of the lack of CPF retirement fund due to increasing cost of living and low interest rates provided by the state government. The CPF pays only 2.5% on the Ordinary Account and the full retirement sum is set at S$161,000. Basic retirement sum payouts for meeting S$161,000 starts from S$660 a week, but a vast majority of Singaporean elderly retirees are unable to meet the Retirement Sum due to unaffordable public housing.
The Manpower Ministry’s statistic also highlighted that the median age of residents in the labour force increased from 40 to 43 this year from a decade ago. Due to the ageing population, the number of unemployed elderly retiree aged 60 and above now make up 44% of the 1.06 million unemployed – a major jump from 37% when the survey was conducted in 2011.
Poverty in Singapore has always been an embarrassing subject for the ruling party government which happens to be the most well-paid in the world. Last month at the APEC meeting in Peru, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told foreign media reporters that Singapore does not have a poverty problem and that the poor are not “badly off”. Last in July 2015, former Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin commented that elderly poor who collect cardboards are just doing so for exercise. Minister Tan Chuan Jin has since been relieved of his Manpower ministry profile and is now heading the Ministry of Social and Family Affairs (MSF), in a tacit move by the Prime Minister to let the newbie minister learn some empathy for the poor following the fiasco over his callous comment.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unofficially inherited his premiership from his father, Lee Kuan Yew in 2004. Poverty and income inequality has since shot up ever since the mathematician graduate embark on a relentless pursuit of GDP. PM Lee Hsien Loong is now in his 4th term but isn’t likely to relinquish his power even though he is looking to pass the premiership. PM Lee will likely give himself the “Emeritus Minister” or “Mentor Minister” title upon his retirement to reign control over the next Singapore Prime Minister.