Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Darf ich wissen, wie alt ist dieser Mann?

This incident happened a few weeks ago when my colleagues and I took a stroll down Chinatown to lunch at Maxwell Market.

As usual the place was packed with lunch crowd and it took us a while before finding ourselves a table with 5 seats. We were eating halfway when a bus full of German tourist alight from a tour bus to get themselves some fruit juice.

An elderly German couple shared the table with us. As they were sipping from the fruit juice to quench their thirst, they were conversing in German.

One of my colleague who used to study German started to talk to them. Wow! I was impressed by my colleague's good command of German :) At the moment, an elderly man came to clear and clean the table.

The elderly couple saw him, turned to my colleague to asked, 'Darf ich wissen, wie alt ist dieser Mann?'

My colleague paused then gave his reply in German too. I was totally lost in the conversation as I could not understand a single bit of the language hahaha! 30 minutes later, we left the food center to head back to office. This was when I started to ask my colleague the content of the conversation.

He took a deep breath and explained that the German couple asked, 'How old was that old man clearing the table?'

Mid 70s was my colleague's reply. Although the German couple did not mention anything but my colleague felt that they must be thinking how come this elderly man is still working at this age???

He went on with his voice slightly raised ..............'What is happening to Singapore? Is this retirement? That German couple just woke me up, I'm ashamed to be a Singaporean! Our elderly folks worked hard during their younger days to grow the economy of the country. When they get old, this is what they get???? My decision to eventually join my family in China was correct!'


Anonymous said...

First of all, there is a stereotype that being a cleaner is something "low". This perception must start to change. Every job is important, even a cleaner's. What employers need to do is to provide our cleaning professionals proper tools and equipment, uniform, and take care of safety & hygiene. Too often, these cleaners are using their bare hands to clear food, and also using dirty tablecloths. Attitudes must change, and the government has a part to play to enforce the rules.

Secondly, a person's retirement plan is, like it or not, personal responsibility. Everyone should plan for their retirement. The problem with Singapore society is that we are so conditioned to rely on the government that we think somehow the government should and can take care of us all the time. Perhaps this is the problem with the CPF. We have been drilled to believe that the CPF is for retirement, when in reality, most of us will not have enough of it to retire. Education also plays a part. I have given my feedback before, that we load our kids with everything in school, except skills in financial planning. Students in secondary school, JC or Poly should be given a 'training' on the fundamentals of financial planning in order to prepare them for the future. Too many of us depend on unscrupulous insurance agents to 'teach' us financial planning, which is always skewed towards their own products.

Lam Chun See said...

Your argument sounds very intellectual. I have a simple question for you Mr Anonymous. Would like your parents or grandparents to work as a cleaner in Spore?

The fact is that in Spore, many old folks have no choice but to take on this unpleasant job. Whether or not it is their own fault is beside the point. For society as a whole, and in particular for the government, they cannot simply furnish fine arguments like yours and then turn the other way.

li_guang said...

once agsin banking on the unhappiness of sporeans, yes we do hv a problem of old sporeans holding low paying menial jobs, as if the govt dunno but whts the opp solution to it they nvr said they only know how to make use of the unhappiness of sporeans to get more votes for themselves without proposong real alternatives. well deep down in their hearst is a easy solution, give them 10k every mth so tht they can lived in comfort, hhahah easy hor but forget to ask $$$ comes from where.

Anonymous said...

Just because of an old man working as a cleaner in the market, you are ashamed on your own country. I think you should go overseas and look at the beggars over there. I think Singapore is ashamed to have a citizen like you too.

Philip said...

Mr Anonymous, all I read from your post is just one bunch of "cheap talk" written in correct but meaningless English. Bear in mind anyone anywhere has the right to feel how and what they want to feel about life in Singapore. What are you proposing to solve issues of daily lives faced by our elderly?? Financial Planning training by AnonymousYou??!!

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