On the 10th & 11th of August, the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and State Street hosted the International Social Security Conference 2016 at Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral to discuss ageing in Malaysia. Revolving around the theme of ‘Active Ageing: Live long and Prosper’, the conference brought together experts from Denmark, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore to share their experiences and ideas on how to successfully engage the senior generation in the economic and social environment.
During the conference Carol Yip, CEO of Aged Care Group, moderated the discussion on ‘The New Definition of Retirement’ with the panel consisting of Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood, Datuk Marina Chin and Dato’ Mahadev Shankar. Carol had also presented on the topic of ‘Social Inclusion for an Ageing Population’ in Malaysia at the event which was attended by fellow thought leaders in the aged care business and key players from various industries.
During the discussion, the panellists deliberated on the definition of retirement and shared their personal experience. Tan Sri Dr Jemilah commented that the question of ‘When is retirement?’ depended on one’s profession and the policies that are set and that society should define for themselves the difference between ‘policy retirement’ and ‘mental retirement’. She had also stated that financial literacy should be injected to young people as fast as possible in order for them have an easier time navigating through the defining process of their retirement.
Sharing her thoughts on the matter, Datuk Marina stated that retirement isn’t about withdrawing from active participation from the work force but about being needed and useful as an individual. A further point of interest that was noted by Dato’ Mahadev was the fact that there is no definition of retirement in Section 2 of the Employees Provident Fund Act nor does the law provide for what retirement actually means apart from the act of ceasing employment itself and the benefits. Hence, he concluded that an individual is free to determine for themselves what retirement means to them.
In her presentation following the discussion of the panellists, Carol Yip stated that the trend of aged living lies not in retirement villages, but in creating age-friendly homes in which people can age in place. However, elderly Malaysians often end up paying at least RM 3000 – RM 4000 a month to stay in nursing homes while receiving sub-standard care by untrained caretakers. She stated, that for social inclusion to occur, the 3 parties – comprising of Non-Governmental Organisations, the public and private sectors – must come together to set up a well-functioning aged care ecosystem.
She also stated that the ecosystem must be able to provide for 2 factors:
- The capability to enable Malaysians to save enough money via innovative products.
- To have enough people to provide care.
Carol concluded her presentation stating that moving forward on the issue of social inclusion and retirement in Malaysia, the term ‘retirement’ and its’ traditional concept should no longer be used to define our lifestyle structure, e.g. the way retirement is marketed to the public, and to transform it into a positive term for life.