I read two interesting blog articles by Singaporeans today. Both tackle the subject of retirement but from different ends of the spectrum.
As a person who received their Singaporean Senior MRT card a couple of years ago I have more than a passing interest in the subject, even though I do not qualify as a 'senior citizen' back here in New Zealand.
The first article is by Wing Lee Cheong, a Singaporean who, by his own description, was born in a toilet in Klang, Malaya to a seventeen year old mother out of wedlock. She was an uneducated and naive young girl who immigrated from Guangzhou and raised him in the slums of Chinatown in Singapore.
He had the distinction of being expelled from high school in 1963 due to poor academic performance but made good through diligence, hard work an an element of luck. He has now retired and lives in British Columbia in Canada.
His 'Working my way out of poverty' article I found to be inspiring in its single-mindedness of purpose especially when it came to facing life's hardships and to finding and keeping a job.
For example, lacking a university degree proved to be no impediment to Mr Wing as he was prepared to work for free for three months to demonstrate his worth to a prospective employer.
Within two years of getting this job at American Marine building yachts he rose to become head of department overseeing a workforce of 1,800 workers. Quite an achievement by any standards, but his luck was to change again when he witnessed a union fracas that led to his persecution and eventual migration from Singapore.
The second blog article dealt with the obsolescence of retirement, putting forward the case that compulsory retirement was out-of-step with the realities of the 21st Century. As the writer states "When someone hits the socially-dictated retirement age, they bring with them out of the workforce, years of experience, skill and wisdom.".
I confess that I found it difficult to understand why Singapore persists with a mandatory retirement age when it faces severe skills shortages in some areas? Many of the older Singaporeans I met and worked with were at the top of their game and losing such a talent pool has got to be to the long term detriment of the country.
There is also little incentive to work on after the mandatory age if all you are offered is a proportion of your original salary, unless of course your financial reserves (or lack thereof) makes this a necessary course of action.
The ideal situation is be semi-retired in an environment that is supportive and climatically tolerable,with sufficient security to cover the day-to-day outgoings of life.
It gives one time to reflect that however hard one's own life may or may not have been, there are always others who have had to surmount greater obstacles in their path and have succeeded in doing so.
But let it not be said that all is doom and gloom in the Republic; there are some very talented and fluent writers in the Heartland; take this article on the joys of having a neighbour who texts you at all hours of the day and night - Nincompoop & Unlimited smses.
The SMS fanatic in question is a obviously not a retiree.