Senior lawyer and former Malaysian Bar president Dr Cyrus Das has called for urgent employees pension fund and post-retirement plan reforms as society's aged population increases.
Das said in 2005, Malaysians aged 60 years and above comprised 6.7 percent of the population.
He added by 2030, they would be 15.5 per cent of the population and by 2050, they would account for 25.7 percent of Malaysia's population.
“Malaysia is heading towards an aged nation by 2030. The troubling aspect of this development is that 67 percent or 4.46 million active Employees Provident Fund (EPF) contributors, have not achieved the basic savings requirement.
“It is believed that an EPF member needs to have at least a minimum saving of RM820 per month for 20 years which would come up to RM196,800 for his or her old age,” he said.
Das said it was highly unlikely that this target was achievable given the high cost of living and indirect taxes the population were subjected too.
“It is believed that half of all ex-EPF members exhaust their EPF savings in five years after retirement creating the spectacle of old age penury.
“As American playwright Tennessee Williams wrote 'You can be young without money but you cannot be old without money'.
“The need for pension fund reforms and the social welfare of employees post- retirement calls for an urgent and serious reappraisal,” said Das further.
Das said this in his keynote address at the Malaysian Society for Labour and Social Security Law (MSLSSL) regional conference on Employment Law in Kuching, Sarawak today.
Sarawak to have an edge
Das also opined that graduates who hail from Sarawak would do well following Chief Minister Adenan Satem's move to declare English as one of the state's official languages.
“According to the Malaysian Employers Federation, there are currently about 200,000 unemployed graduates in the country. One of the main reasons for their unemployment is their lack of English proficiency. Most of them are aged between 20 and 28.
“I take this opportunity to congratulate Adenan for his farsightedness in declaring English as one of the official languages of the state. I have no doubt that this move will, within the decade, see young Sarawakian graduates having an edge over their fellow Malaysians in the Malaysian job market,” he noted.
The senior lawyer also expressed concern over worker rights namely the need for affected workers to be able to file their complaint with the labour department for the matter to be adjudicated in the Industrial Court.
“The question is whether this intermediate step of reference is legally necessary. Apart from delay, it provides a fertile ground for legal challenge on the minister on whether he had acted rightly or wrongly in either making the reference or failing to make the reference.
“This legal challenge, of course, causes further delay,” he said, adding that Malaysia should follow the examples of the UK, Australia and India who provided direct access to labour tribunals.