For more and more people, retirement is anathema. Just ask Malaysia’s new PM
eave aside his recorded antisemitism, his homophobia, some hundred billion of missing ringgit on his watch and a habit of imprisoning political opponents, and there appears to be much to celebrate in the election of Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister of Malaysia. Principally, in some quarters, that Mr Mahathir, who just became the oldest leader in the world, will turn, in July, 93 years young.
Even accepting the slightly different demands on Mr Mahathir, as he sets about crushing a former protege and liberating an ex-enemy whom he had imprisoned for sodomy, this important demonstration that 93 is the new 73 is likely to be welcomed (as it was, as an inspiration, on the BBC’s Today programme) by the increasing numbers of older British workers who intend never to give up their jobs – and not necessarily for financial reasons.
While the abolition of the mandatory retirement age in 2011 was good news for poorer pensioners and for victims of pervasive workplace ageism, its abolition has also enabled more privileged employees to mimic the sort of high status aversion to retirement expressed by didactic magnates such as Warren Buffett or Richard Branson. From, for instance, the latter, writing in his blog: “I’ve never thought [of] work as work and play as play; to me, it’s all living and learning.”