TL;DR – We chatted with 85yo technician who has never taken a day’s MC in his 15 years with Novotel Clarke Quay.
Meet an unconventional elderly man who continues to work past the official retirement age.
Mr Goh Jeow Hong, known to his colleagues as Uncle Goh, is a whopping 85-years-old this year! He was awarded Best Employee of the Year 2015 by the hotel he works for, and more recently, Uncle Goh was also honoured as an Inspirational Worker by the Labour Movement at the May Day Partnership Awards.
Here’s our conversation with the spunky elderly.
Uncle Goh, why don’t you tell us more about yourself?
I am Goh Jeow Hong. I’m 85 years old and I am a technician with Novotel Clarke Quay for the past 15 years.
Why do you want to continue working at your age?
I like working. I started working at the age of 13 as a mechanic and I haven’t stopped working. And I don’t like to waste my time being at home, so since I am mobile, I might as well work.
How many children do you have?
I live with my wife in Kallang and my four children live on their own with their families.
Since I am working and still receive a salary, I don’t depend on them for support, and this gives them the ability to support their own families better.
What is a normal working day like for you?
I wake up at 5am and get to the hotel by 7am for my 9am shift. I come in early so that I can see where I can help.
I go around the hotel doing maintenance work in the guest rooms and other areas where maintenance work is needed.
I knock off at 6pm every day and head home for dinner.
We hear you have never taken a single MC in the past 15 years, how do you do that?
I don’t like seeing the doctor. When I’m unwell, I just rub a bit of medicated oil and continue doing my work. Even when I’m having a fever.
I’m also blessed to not have any problems with my health. It could be because of my active lifestyle when I was young.
I even received an award for not taking an MC before at work.
What do you feel about people who complain that they don’t want to work till the official retirement age?
For me, if I can continue to work, why not? It’s better than staying home every day and wasting time. After all, it’s good for the brain if you keep yourself active every day. I tell the company that I will continue to work till I am unable to work.
It’s dependent on the individual, some are not working for the money, but want to pass time. So having the opportunity and ability to work is good for elderly folks like me.
We heard you did a short presentation about yourself in English when you received an award for Best Employee of the year 2015. Tell us about that!
I don’t speak English, but over the many years of working here, I picked up simple phrases like, “Good morning, Sir!”, “How are you?”, “Can I help you?”
So at our annual awards ceremony last year, I did a short introduction of myself in English when I received an award on stage.
Uncle Goh, do you still remember what you said during that time? Can you please repeat your little speech for us?
Because we are Singapore, which place in Singapore is closest to your heart?
Kallang. I bought my first HDB flat there and have been living there ever since.
I sold my first flat and downsized to another one which is also in Kallang because I am so used to the area.