By Dr. Abdulaziz
RETIREMENT for a government employee is an inevitable destiny. It is a stage that no one is exempt from except those with “high resolve”, i.e. those who do not retire till death. Every regulation fails to move them, as if they are stuck to their seats. Some of them recline on their chairs the way Prophet Sulaiman leaned on his staff, but the comparison is in a different sense. They are dead but they don’t realize it. They don’t enjoy life the way rest of us because they do not know what bounties they are being deprived of.
Yet, I must admit that all retirees are not the same. There is a category that suffers after retirement. On the one hand, they receive a low pension and on the other hand, they face several challenges in securing their retirement entitlements and pensions.
This is what I was told in an e-mail I received. Mr. Husni Hamid, a retiree, explained his problem and requested that I write about it, considering that I too was one of them. The problem, as I understood, was of late payment of the pensions. Pensions are supposed to be paid on the 15th every month. However, they are paid sometimes on the 25th or even later. Pensioners therefore are seen crowding the banks.
Hamid narrated the story of an old man whose monthly pension is barely SR1,500. He struggles to feed his children when he receives the money late in the month. Moreover, he has the house rent to pay and other expenditure.
He urged me to convey this suffering to the concerned officials and said: “Thanks to Allah. May He help the weak people. If we, with higher pensions, are suffering, then what about others? What is their fault? With your pen and your magnificent style of writing, perhaps you will pen down something that will help alleviate the suffering of these poor and weak people. May Allah help you to spare no effort to do good and help the weak who spent their prime life in service to this country.” I must add that my story of retirement was somewhat different. I seemed to have retired in “installments”. I was working full-time in the Ministry of Information when I was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where work is still going but in a way that can be likened to partial retirement.
I was then honored to be appointed to the Shoura Council. Work in the Shoura can be considered training before full retirement. As for my work in the embassy, then that’s a different story. Due to these reasons, I did not suffer a lot on retirement.
But from what I have heard, the suffering of other retirees is sometimes likened to early death. The Arabic word “mutaqa’id” referring to a retiree is divided into two Arabic words “mut”, “qa’id” meaning “die”, “sitting”. So according to this view, when a person’s connection with his job ends, his connection with life ends.