A retired air force helicopter pilot was recently reported as living on a pension that places him in the bottom 40% of households.
That ought to prick our conscience about how our nation takes care of its pensioners.
Having served the nation courageously, in the defence of our country, only to be paid a pittance in pension – that is a gross injustice!
That may well be the predicament that a vast majority of pensioners face: low pensions that entrap them in the poorest 40% of society.
Obviously, the government needs to address this situation.
We believe the government ought to:
- Implement a living wage for civil servants so that there will be a corresponding enhancement in their pensions. In fact, Cuepacs, the apex trade union organisation representing civil servants, has been demanding a comprehensive revision of salaries and related terms of service. But, except for piecemeal handouts, the government seems to have neglected its responsibility over such an important issue
- Pay pensions based on the civil servants’ last-drawn salary instead of calculating pensions at a reduced percentage of salaries. Pensioners, too face the same cost of living factors as serving civil servants and the rest of the population. As such, it would only be fair that they are paid equitable pensions. After having served the government for 30 years, a retiring civil servant would, we understand, be paid 60% of their last- drawn basic pay. With such a drastic reduction in their incomes, pensioners would be financially handicapped to mitigate against the constant increases in the cost of living. Having regard to equity and good conscience, retiring civil servants ought to be paid a pension based on their last-drawn gross salary and not on a reduced formula based on their basic salary
- Enhance the current annual pension adjustments of 2% for two reasons. Firstly, it has remained stagnant for too long. More importantly, current inflationary trends have outpaced the 2% annual pension adjustments, thus requiring an upward revision of the rate. In 2021 inflation reportedly was at 2.5%. And as of August 2022, it was recorded at 4.7%. Therefore, the government is under a moral obligation to revise the annual pension adjustments to ensure that our pensioners are provided with an upward revision of their pensions to mitigate against the rising cost of living
We urge the government to disclose the number of pensioners who are classified in the bottom 40% category so that the people can appreciate the depth of the problem.
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K Veeriah is secretary of the Penang division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress