Why we need to allow EPF withdrawals

Hebahkan !!!

From Roland Teoh

The EPF has come out with a strong statement to defend the discontinuation of further withdrawals of EPF savings, stating that it is committed to helping members rebuild savings and secure a retirement future.

The finance minister holds a similar view. He says that withdrawals cannot continue to be allowed whenever a disaster happens. If that is done, then the aim or retirement savings will never be realised.

Tengku Zafrul Aziz further adds that the government has to be responsible and think long term, taking into consideration the well-being of our grandchildren

The finance minister is completely irresponsible. He has no sense of reality, neither is he being logical.

The problem is that people who have been affected have no money to rebuild their lives today. Their houses and belongings have been destroyed and their cars severely damaged.

It is a question of food and a decent state of living today.

People cannot afford to think about their retirement, about the comfort of savings 10 years into the future.

It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that people can get on with their lives and a minimal state of comfort today. The EPF should not be lecturing about ideal situations.

It is true that the EPF is mandated as a retirement fund to safeguard members’ savings for their future retirement needs and wellbeing.

But that ideal situation does not apply. Who will take care of members’ present well-being? What will you do today if you don’t have a house or if all your belongings have been washed away by the flood? Does the finance minister’s theorising make sense to someone who has been affected badly?

EPF highlights the fact that 54% of Bumiputera members now have less than RM10,000 and 25% have less than RM1,000. This shows the dire situation the Bumiputera members are in.

What is the point of highlighting the ethnic breakdown? It only shows that the government has failed in its responsibility to Malaysians affected by the floods. The government is unconcerned about the plight of affected Malaysians, be they Bumiputera or not. The fact that their savings are so limited shows the pitiable condition these people are in.

By safeguarding EPF’s members’ savings of RM10,000 or less (or maybe just RM1,000) the EPF is not going to guarantee “future retirement needs and wellbeing”. What is the EPF talking about?

The EPF comes out in support of the finance minister who will not allow people to secure some relief in these difficult times.

It is true that Malaysia is just nine years short of becoming an aged nation in 2030. That demands a different set of policies – a different treatment by itself. How will depriving people of some money to rebuild their houses or buy some possessions help mitigate the problems of an ageing society?

The EPF has no solutions to the present critical problem facing those who lost everything in the floods. The best they have is to offer aid through in-kind donations. Is that a solution?

And if not EPF withdrawals, what solutions does the finance minister have? As of now – none.

The once-vaunted Malaysian Institute of Economic Research has come out in support of the finance minister but, like the EPF, is missing the main point. It is clear that the finance minister is using the EPF and MIER as his mouthpieces.

Noted political scientist Ong Kian Ming has also come out in support of the finance minister. His only arguments are based on previous questionable actions committed by former prime minister Najib Razak and the supposition that Najib is not interested in the long-term welfare of EPF’s members.

Instead of suggesting solutions to a critical problem that can work right now, the finance minister, EPF, MIER and Ong of the DAP are using this opportunity to gain mileage.

Is it possible that the finance ministry has no more money in its coffers? Is it possible that EPF cannot honour requests for further withdrawals? Whatever it is, they have no solutions to the problem of homelessness, loss of possession and loss of dignity that many face today.

 

Roland Teoh is an FMT reader.

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