Forward    Feedback    


We call on the Government to consider an allocation of at least RM500 million to provide monthly income to Malaysians who do not have an income after retirement. Male and female retirees of 60 and above would have to undergo a means test for eligibility. We shall present this proposal in the budgetary session of Parliament next month.

Speech Presented at the forum on Eradication of Poverty in Old Age Through Social Pension
-organized by National Council of Senior Citizens Organizations Malaysia (NACSCOM)

by Dr Tan Seng Giaw

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): On 15 August, 2005, NACSOM president Mr Lum Kin Tuck rang me, saying that a speaker from the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) had withdrawn from the forum. He thought that after spending many years in Parliament, I should be able to give my view on social pension for senior citizens. I asked him whether he wanted me to cancel my appointment elsewhere and came to this forum instead. He agreed, adding, “I hope you would not fire the Government.”

I have assured him that as political workers we do not simply fire or whack anybody. We point out the mistakes or weaknesses and provide alternatives to solve the problems. I am pleased to be here among people who care for senior citizens. There are 1.8 million of them, increasing to over 3.8 million by 2020.

Malaysia is not a welfare state unlike countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and UK.  U.S.A. has social security. We should learn from these countries. We have to introduce our version of social security, avoiding all the abuses.

Everyone grows old. William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939), one of the greatest English-speaking poet of the twentieth century, writes When You Are Old:

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;


How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face.


And bending downwards beside the glowing bars,

Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead,

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


People who do not receive income after retirement can only hide their faces amid a crowd of stars.

Mr Lum talks about the social pension, proposing RM240 per month for each recipient male or female who is not like to receive an income after retirement. He mentions EPF and Petronas and Malaysia not doing too badly. Our country is the 18th trading nation in the world of over 200 countries. The idea of looking after the welfare of poor senior citizens is good.

Where do we find the money? How much can the Government afford?

EPF has over RM200 billion for investment, growing more than RM10 billion a year. But, EPF with over 10 million members is not a pension scheme. Employers and employees contribute during the latter’s working life. They withdraw a lump sum at 55. An EPF survey noted that 70% of contributors who took out the lump sum at 55 squandered all their savings within three years. The EPF Act does not allow for the above-mentioned social pension. Do these members agree with financing social pension?

In 2004, Government-linked companies (GLCs)including Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Telekom and Petronas registered a surplus of RM18,297 million with revenue outturn of RM162,495 million. They pay taxes.

The 2005 Federal Budget is RM117,445 million with operating expenditure RM89,141 million and development expenditure RM28,304 million. The total revenue is estimated to be RMRM99,030 million. The overall deficit is forecast to be RM17,700 million. For seven years, the deficit decreases.

Over 1 million civil servants including members of parliament get pension, retirement allowance and gratuity. This year the Government pays RM5,100 million for this purpose.. More young people are paying for the pension of senior citizens. Can the Government add RM500 million for social pension?

Besides EPF, we have talked about private pension fund or annuity or even converting part of EPF contributions into annuity managed by a group of insurance companies. But, controversy continues. The Government has formed a committee headed by the Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop to study private pension funds proposed by the Life Insurance Association of Malaysia (LIAM). We hope that the committee presents its report. Meanwhile, we suggest that the Government investigate the number of senior citizens who have no income after their retirement and allocate at least RM500million with means test for their eligibility.

Senior citizens face challenges in the globalized world. It is an uphill task to fight for their welfare.  Here is a poem UP-Hill by Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830 – 1894), an American woman poet :

Does the road wind uphill all the way?

  Yes, to the very end.

Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?

   From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?

   A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin,

May not the darkness hide it from my face?

   You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?

   Those who have gone before.

Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?

   They will not keep you waiting at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?

   Of labour you shall find the sum.

Will there be beds for me and all who seek?

   Yes, beds for all who come.

Yes, bed, food, attitude, culture, sense of values and life-long learning for senior citizens, not just forums, statistics and schemes. It is pleasing to see people over 60 taking up university courses.


*Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong

Your e-mail:

Your name: 

Your friend's e-mail: 

Your friend's name: