The decision of Perikatan Nasional leaders to demand for targeted EPF withdrawal for those financially impacted is a short term bandaid at best, and morally unconscionable at worst. PN leaders for months have proposed in Parliament, written statements and worst of all, emboldened supporters to unknowingly sabotage their own futures and rally for EPF withdrawals despite a large majority of EPF members not having enough savings to begin with.
Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim recently stated that 81% EPF members cannot live above poverty level upon retirement. He went on to say that as of December last year, only 19% EPF contributors have reached the basic savings level based on their age to enable them to have RM240,000 in savings by 55 years old. Furthermore, 56% of those who will be able to withdraw their EPF savings fully within a year, which means those who are currently 54 years old, have RM50,000 or less in their retirement fund.
While PN leaders continue to perform theatrics on the issue such as walkouts in Parliament and partnering with a man who supposedly walked for days in protest of the issue, we wonder if they will also be held accountable when their supporters realise they do not have enough savings for retirement? Will PN then be answerable to the rakyat whose EPF savings have been depleted because certain irresponsible leaders thought it would be a good way to score political points and antagonise the sitting government?
Theoretically if the government allows for a withdrawal, targeted or not, we are facing a global push of a later retirement age. France, for example, is under revolt with multiple strikes en masse across the country because President Emmanuel Macron has made moves to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. The French’s dissatisfaction with the high cost of living and labour conditions are issues not foreign to us as the threat of having to work longer in one person’s lifespan becomes a real threat.
A person’s EPF account is to be protected by all means. It was built so that ordinary folks have a safety net once they retire, not wanting to burden their children or those around them for financial support. It also offers peace of mind for workers to know that a portion of their income every month goes to their old age, eliminating the risk that they will dip into it for immediate fulfilment. The problem is PN leaders realise this yet they do not mind continuing on this harmful crusade. We must rise above this and have the foresight to remain cognizant of the future, and the changing landscape of the global economy.