By June Ramli
SYDNEY: This is gonna be a controversial statement but here goes – let people in precarious situations access their EPF (Employees Provident Funds) accounts without any caps.
I say this because, in the last few days, Twitter has been rife with the number of #benderaputih or #whiteflag campaign which aims to help those in dire need immediately without wait times.
Looking at this latest development from afar is super worrying, not to mention the number of suicide cases that have sky-rocketed in the last few months.
All this info has been blowing up on Twitter, and in my opinion, is one of the most trusted sources when it comes to all things news. People always report the truth on that platform.
So, what I am suggesting is perhaps to let those who have savings in EPF to access them completely with no caps during these trying times.
The government is so concerned that these individuals won’t have any savings when they reach their twilight years but I don’t think that is the real reason.
In 2003, while still employed with the New Straits Times, I wrote an exclusive news report which stated that the EPF was being channelled to our PTPTN loans due to poor collection rates.
It was big news when I first broke the story.
A few days later, my former colleague from theSun was asked to pose a question on the matter to the then Prime Minister Tun Ahmad Badawi.
He answered the question and said that he was not happy with the matter and soon that story made headlines for days and suddenly the collection for the education loan had improved and it was all thanks to my story.
That article had helped me launch my career as a reporter but most importantly, it gave a lot of people insights as to how our retirement funds are managed.
Having said that, we are now living in unprecedented times and we don’t know what else is gonna take place in the future and so people with EPF savings should be allowed to access their money.
As it is, a lot of people are living under duress these days and when you are stressed you are likely susceptible to all sorts of diseases.
Give those with EPF savings more options to access their money before the preservation age.
I believe once this is allowed only a portion of people would take up the offer as the majority still believed in the product offering and haven’t touched their retirement savings despite recent developments.
Once things go back to normal and people back to full-time jobs, they can start contributing extra towards the EPF and perhaps those administering the funds can start doubling or tripling their dividends.
In Australia, retirement funds are not managed by the government, and the money is invested directly into the sharemarket which produces a higher rate of investment although the amount fluctuates daily.
This is unlike Malaysia, where the government uses the funds to buy shares directly into companies like the UK’s Battersea Power Station and so on. All these investments take time to mature, so dumping the pencarum’s money into the sharemarket is a better bet.
So, yeah, there is lots to think about but ultimately the bottom line is let people access their EPF accounts as and when they deemed fit or at least until dusk settles.
About the Author: June Ramli is the News Editor of this site. This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed here are those of the author.