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Connexion: Deploy old folks as change agents

Good news for Perak. Our state has the largest proportion of aging folks (60 years and above). A high 15.3 percent of Perakians deserve gold medallions for their survival ability. Their ancestors as recently as 1,000 years ago could only hit 40 before expiring.

However, there is also bad news. The economy is decidedly unfriendly towards you. The reason that you are retired at age 60 is so that your job goes to a younger chap whose position is then taken by an even younger person. The chain effect gives fresh job seekers a chance to be employed. It’s a Robin Hood scheme: rob the old to pay the young.

Heart-breaking stories are emerging of elderly people unable to pay their bills any more as they have depleted their EPF savings. Sprinkle the pavements with silver coins and aged folks may suddenly appear.

But let’s return to the good news. Do you wear bifocal specs? Benjamin Franklin invented them at age 78. Your brain doesn’t age at 60; it will go on thinking until it enters the 90-120 range. Don’t let youngsters dump you in a retirement corridor to live apart from society. Remain a part of society.

Instead of forcing 60-year-olds into retirement, our Government should have done the smart thing: deploy them into non-executive or executive support roles on half day work at one-third to half pay on performance-based contracts until age 75 or 80. These semi-retirees benefit by maintaining an income and companies benefit by maintaining their experiences.

Aged workers can be powerhouses of change because of their seasoned approach in handling critical issues. The global panic over coronavirus is a model situation for deploying the elderly as change agents. How did coronavirus spread to humans? From the deviant tradition of catching, imprisoning under horrific conditions, selling, and eating wildlife including species that harbour killer viruses.

Related to this commercially exploitative practice is the equally deviant tradition of keeping livestock animals in suffocating quarters that resemble overcrowded jail cells, injecting them with heavy doses of antibiotics when they inevitably fall sick, and fattening them with growth hormones.

Excessive meat eating is a corruption of the Stone Age tradition wherein only selected animals are hunted for the day’s meal or the next day, and care is taken to minimise their sufferings. As senior folks prefer less meaty diets, they can be organised to lobby for wildlife conservation and reduction of livestock consumption. Try them out as pacemakers for a new dietary lifestyle of greens and laboratory (lab) meat.

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Joachim Ng

A veteran interfaith researcher and science enthusiast, Joachim Ng has acquired more than 45 years of research experience in studying the world's scriptures and harmonising them with latest scholarly findings in many disciplines especially science and spirituality. In the 1980s, he penned a weekly interfaith column that won him a Promotion of Unity award from the Malaysian Press Institute. In addition to five earlier books, he has delivered papers at international conferences held in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Assisi near Rome. A Master's degree holder from the University of Hull, UK, he is a former chairman of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship and the recipient of an Ambassador for Peace award conferred by the Universal Peace Foundation.

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