The United Nations’ (UN) definition of an elderly person is an individual aged 60 years and over. In countries such as Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea, the retirement age of civil servants is set at 60. But in Malaysia, the retirement age of civil servants is set at 56, thereby making Malaysians retire even before they reach old age.
Given that more countries are becoming developed these days, more countries are able to provide better healthcare and this will result in more people having a longer lifespan. Since Malaysia is more developed now as compared to the past, it Is too early for one to retire at the age of 56.
Furthermore, an early retirement age would be a waste of resources. In 2006, the Malaysian government paid out RM5billion in pensions, while another RM6billion was given to an average of 1000 newly retired civil servants. This is estimated to reach RM30billion by 2020.
Malaysia is a relatively young country, but the number of older persons in Malaysia has doubled in the past two decades to almost 1.4 million. By 2020, this number is expected to grow to more than 3.4 million. According to a UN definition, Malaysia will be an aged society in 2019 when 7% of her total population is 65 years and older.
If nothing was done to raise the retirement age of civil servants, resources may be drained from other sectors that are crucial for Malaysia’s development. Consequently, Malaysia’s economic growth may be hindered.
To prevent this, many governments and NGOs worldwide have been trying to persuade Malaysia to raise the retirement age to 60. For example, the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) have been fighting for an older retirement age for civil servants for more than a decade now, and had submitted a memorandum on the matter to the Government in 1998.