I nearly fell off my chair when I heard LHL acknowledging the contribution of our elderly towards nation-building on his PE by-election rally on 24 Jan 2013.
“老年人，他们建立了今天的新加坡。我们应该对他们致敬，感谢他们。我们知道没有他们，没有今天的新加坡。”（13:21 of the video here）
(Translation: The elderly built Singapore. We should pay tribute to them and be grateful to their contribution. We know that without them, there won’t be Singapore today.)
Too often, the PAP has propagated the myth that Singapore owes its success to none other than PAP’s out-of-the-world leadership. Thanks to the PE by-election pressure, it was really the first time that I have heard LHL crediting anybody else beside PAP for Singapore’s success. Remember his father’s portrayal of Singapore being a barren land in the 1950s before PAP took over? [Link]The entire Singapore was created by PAP and whatever adminstration, legislation or infrastructure that we inherited from the colonial British can be all swept under the carpet.
Words are cheap.
CPF is the most telling of the kind of value and appreciation that PAP holds for our elderly.
In 1988, CPF started differentiating contribution rates among different age groups. Prior to that, there is a uniform set of employer and employee CPF contribution rates for workers of all age groups. From 1988 onwards, employees above 55 years old found themselves being categorized into three groups: above 55 – 60 years old, above 60 – 65 years old and those above 65 years old. These 3 groups of employees will see their employer contribution rate reduced as compared to those below 55 years old. Once you reach 55 years old, you are subject to immediate wage cut as employer contribution rate drops. It drops further as you move further up the age group.
Those above 55 – 60 years old are relatively “more fortunate” than the other two age groups to be able to enjoy certain years where employer contribution rate was restored to the 1988 period of 11% and in the 90s, it even rose above the 11% rate for several years.
The 60 – 65 and those above 65 aren’t that fortunate at all. The employer contribution rate fails to restore to the 1988 figure (9% for 60 - 65; 8% for 65 and above) after two long decades regardless of the performance of our economy. Therefore, this is not a reactionary adjustment to recessions but a policy that underscores an open discrimination of our elderly workers.
Instead of protecting our aged workers, our system forces our elderly workers to make concessions under the pretext of saving their jobs whilst allowing employers to gain by paying less for the same job scope. For the same work that we do, we will receive less pay when we hit 55 years old.
We are looking at a system and a culture that allow selective devaluation and discrimination of elderly which will in turn impact their self-esteems. What is strikingly contradicting is that the work experience of our aged ministers are so highly valued that special positions such as SM, MM or EM were created for them in order to tap on their years of experience. Conversely for our workers, their years of work experience are negligible.
This is the way which PAP demonstrates their genuine appreciation for our elderly. And that is what makes LHL's tribute to our elderly sounds so empty.