Why Malaysians rejected proposed EPF withdrawal age

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak made an announcement that had many Malaysians let out a sigh of relief. The hotly debated Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) proposal of raising the full withdrawal age from 55 to 60, had many Malaysians worried.

Some are for the new proposal, as they may plan to continue working after 55 and don’t mind having their EPF savings compounded further at a guaranteed return. However, most are dead set against the proposal.

The iMoney editorial team spoke to many our readers, friends and even family, and here are the top 5 reasons why most Malaysians want it to stay 55!

1. “I already have a plans for the money”

If you are nearing 55, you might already have plans on what to do with your EPF savings – be it travel the world, pay off your mortgage or even to put it in other investment product. Hence, there is a resounding ‘NO’ when the proposal was first announced.

“Next year I will be 55 already, so I just hope nothing will change until I get back my retirement fund,” said Josephine Chong, 54.

It doesn’t seem fair to them who are already anticipating their money in the next few years to be forced to wait for another five years.

2. “I could die at 55!”

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. There is no guarantees in life, why not enjoy what you have. Though the hashtag “YOLO” is a millennial thing but the concept is not foreign, even to the baby boomers.

According to Sue Chuah, 33, life is full of uncertainties and she is not sure if she can live up to 60 years old.  With the EPF withdrawal age of 55, the chances of her still being healthy is higher and she could enjoy the money more.

Though leaving the money in EPF for a few more years can generate more return, but this group of EPF contributors are willing to cut their losses and enjoy their hard-earned money while they still can.

3. “I’m mature enough to handle my retirement fund”

Options and choices are important for Malaysians. They feel that they have the right to decide what to do with their savings, and should not have to beg for their money.

“(We) don’t need the babysitting. They should just keep to the status quo – withdraw if you want, and if you don’t then reap the benefits of high dividend pay-outs each year. I think 50 and 55 is good, it’s the average retirement age I guess. And if I don’t have kids and want to retire at 50 to laze around, I should have the right to. Why do I have to work another 10 years if I don’t need to?” commented Radiance Leong, 27, on our Facebook post.

Having total control of your money will help you manage your money better, even in other aspects of your finances. If you have been planning your retirement all along, having the options to withdraw either at 55 or 60, would definitely make more sense.

4. “I want to retire early”

Although early retirement seems like a pipe dream for most people, but some are determined to achieve it. They have put together a plan to realise it, and nothing should stop them.

However, the proposal of raising the full EPF withdrawal age, can put their plan to a complete halt.

“I will have enough to retire at 55. I have other sources of retirement savings too, besides EPF. Why should I wait till 60?” said a reader who prefers to remain anonymous.

Not everyone wants to work until they are 60. With some clever planning and discipline, early retirement is not an unachievable dream, and for some their EPF savings may be a big part of that plan. By extending the withdrawal age, it will most definitely throw their retirement plan out the window.

5. “I want to clear my financial commitments”

Most people look forward to retirement as a time that they can truly relax and enjoy life. Working hard for the past 30 years (at least) can be tiring.

The EPF savings can be a great help in helping Malaysians to clean up their finances and settle their commitments so they can enjoy a carefree retirement.

“At the age of 55, we (majority of us) have many commitments, such as helping our kids to pursue further education or help them to cover wedding expenses. It is the time for us to fully settle in our life. We work hard today for a better future, it is our legitimate expectation to use our EPF savings to meet many obligations. Some of us may even withdraw the whole sum to expand our business,” shared a lawyer in his 30’s.

With a big sum of money, we can do all that. If they have a back-up plan for their retirement income, these are all valid reasons to use the EPF savings.

Some retirees may consider starting up a business to get additional retirement income, and businesses need capital.

Whatever the reasons may be, Malaysians are pretty adamant to keep the option of withdrawing their EPF savings at 55 years old. There are pros and cons to both side of the coin, and it must be reiterated that EPF savings alone, cannot provide you the same standard of living as pre-retirement.

It will be prudent to plan your retirement as early as possible to pre-empt any changes or obstacles you may face before retirement. For now, we can all relax as the withdrawal age is maintained at 55.


Iris Lee is editor of iMoney.my, enjoys writing about various topics on personal finance, including property and insurance. She believes that knowledge is the key to making wise financial decisions.


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