WP’s Abdul Shariff, who was once a general laborer and dispatcher, says the savings of many older colleagues are ‘insufficient for retirement in a first world of high costs – and still growing’

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On Labor Day, Workers Party Politician Abdul Shariff Aboo Kassim, looked back on his days as a general worker and dispatch rider, but also noted that many of his former colleagues, now older but still working past retirement age, face an uncertain future as their savings might not be enough to see them through.

In a Facebook post on Sunday May 1, Mr Abdul Shariff wrote that he thought of his former colleagues every year on Labor Day and shared some of his own past experiences, including lying on a concrete floor during lunch break, a feeling he describes as “heavenly”.

“It was refreshing and provided indescribable comfort to my tired limbs. The King Koil I sleep on today, with all its advanced features, never gave me this level of comfort. he added.

He also wrote of a meal he often had during those days, “nasi pukul mati (literally translated: whack-till-die rice)”, which he described as “a huge amount of rice with curry, vegetables and a poppadum. It kept our limbs going for the rest of the day. I understand that it is still sold today.

However, he also expressed concerns about older workers, most of whom remained in low-wage jobs, moving from one employer to another.

“It was hard to learn a skill when you’re exhausted at the end of the day from heavy lifting and yelling if you have a mean supervisor. So rest is very much needed and it has prepared you physically and mentally for the next day. Advancement opportunities were therefore rare. My own progress would probably have stalled if I hadn’t been lucky,” Mr. Abdul Shariff explained.

He added that many continue to work despite being well past retirement age, as “they worked during a time when financial and medical support was modest. The savings accumulated over their working lives are insufficient to retire in a first world of high – and ever rising – costs.

The WP politician assumed that the price of nasi pukul mati has probably also grown since his days as a general worker, but added that he hopes “it’s still affordable and hasn’t taken on a different meaning.”

Mr Abdul Shariff, who was on the GRC East Coast WP slate in the 2020 election and is active on the ground there with party comrades including Ms Nicole Seah and Mr Kenneth Foo, said added photos from a WP food distribution exercise held on April 30.


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Earnest L. Veasey