Mahathir must not be two centuries behind Bismarck and should direct a completely new study on the issue of raising retirement age to 60, involving the fullest public consultation and debate


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Petaling Jaya,  Tuesday): The decision of the new Cabinet not to approve the CUEPACS proposal to extend the compulsory retirement age of civil servants to beyond 55 years but to allow retention of their services based on performance and need should be reviewed and reconsidered.

This is because the Cabinet decision had been made in a very feudalistic manner without the fullest public consultation and debate in line with the principles of accountability, transparency and good democratic governance.

The retirement age of 55  for civil servants in Malaysia was introduced by the British in the 1950s, but how many Ministers and decision-makers are aware of the following:
 

 
When the British in the colonial times in the 1950s fixed the retirement age of 55  for civil servants in Malaya, it was probably  the typical product of White Manís superiority complex, motivated by two factors, to allow the British civil servants the excuse to return home at 55 while having utter contempt for the locals as having the ability to continue in productive service after this age.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad have  exhorted  Malaysians ad nauseum to liberate themselves from all forms of neo-colonialism, including mental and spiritual - and one of the things Malaysians should free themsleves from is the British colonial decision in the 50s that Malaysians are no more productive after 55,  especially  as  with better health care and medical services, the  average life expectancy of Malaysians is 72 years.

In any event, it is most incongruous for a Cabinet headed by a 74-year-old Prime Minister to reject a proposal that the 55-year retirement age of civil servants be raised to 60 when 111 years ago the German Chancellor, also at the same age of 74 years old,  had set 70 years as the standard retirement age.

Mahathir must not be seen as two centuries behind Bismarck and he should direct a completely new study to be made on this issue, involving the fullest public consultation and debate affecting  not only CUEPACS, but all sectors of Malaysians society.
The most powerful argument for the raising of the retirement age from 55 to 60 is that if judges, ever since independence, are only retired at 65. there is no reason why civil servants cannot function effectively up to the age of 60.

(11/1/2000)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman