Never too old to impart leadership lessons


Keep on moving: Dispatch rider Mohamed Mubarak Ebunu Masood, 62, sorting out packages for delivery to an office in Petaling Jaya. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Even at 72, Kanaga Raj will not label himself as a “retiree”. Instead, he continues to contribute to the aviation industry 12 years after his retirement.

Lam Ah Chye is even older at 78, but he remains active too, 22 years after retirement. He was offered a role as a trainer for a mentoring programme with the Health Ministry as soon as he retired.

Kanaga started his career as a cabin crew in 1971. When he officially retired, many offered him a job as a trainer for “freshies”.

“I enjoy working. I never put up a barrier and tell myself I’m retired. Instead, I carry on as I always do, and that is to train those wanting to be in the industry.

“Now, I spend about four to five days working and I try to stay fit because we must be physically and mentally active,” he said.

Kanaga said he also needed the income for his family.

“I will continue to work as long as I can contribute to the younger generation and provide an income for my family. We in the private sector do not get pensions,” he said, adding many of his friends are also in the same line of work, training newcomers.

“Once you’ve been in the aviation industry, you can’t run from it!” he said.

Lam was a trainer for a mentoring programme with the Health Ministry.

The programme lasted 10 years. Now, more than two decades after retirement, he is a consultant-mentor in the food industry.

Asked why he was still in the workforce, he said he simply enjoyed working.

“I was naturally drawn into such work after retirement when my previous employer appointed me to lead the Food Mentoring Programme together with the Health Ministry at that time.

“There was never a dull moment as I continued to learn and relearn in the fast-changing environment.

“In fact, I learn more from the mentees than they do from me. My mentees are mostly entrepreneurs who are very agile in their mindsets and business acumen,” he said.

He said many could easily get a job after retirement, as long as they were not too picky and prepared to take a pay cut.

“Attitude is very important. One must be ready to contribute and provide solutions in a new environment,” he said.

He shared that many seniors, through their knowledge, experience, and the network built over the years, may embark on start-ups and businesses, which would make them “seniorpreneurs”.

Malaysian Coalition on Ageing (MCOA) spokesman Cheah Tuck Wing said seniors were not just returning to the workforce to impart knowledge, they were also in need of work due to inflation.

This is especially among the B40 and M40 groups.

“We find an increasing number of abandoned seniors in welfare homes and old folks’ homes.

“The situation is getting worse by the day,” he said.

“We should also remove the mindset that older workers will take away job opportunities from younger workers as the nature of jobs is different,” he added.

Cheah said Malaysia would face manpower issues soon “as it becomes an ageing society”.

“We should not be wasting manpower and provide an opportunity for our seniors to work,” he said.

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