COVID-19 SPECIAL

Retrenched at 62, but he's not ready to retire

Mr Raymond Leong, who was laid off from his job as a senior sales manager at a cruise and events company in February, is now working as a Grab driver as he continues to search for job opportunities. With more than 30 years in the tourism and travel i
Mr Raymond Leong, who was laid off from his job as a senior sales manager at a cruise and events company in February, is now working as a Grab driver as he continues to search for job opportunities. With more than 30 years in the tourism and travel industry, he hopes to use his years of experience to do something more.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

At 62, Mr Raymond Leong is not looking to retire.

This is despite facing an emotional few weeks after he was retrenched in late February.

The former senior sales manager used to work for a cruise and events company. But about 1½ years after he joined the firm, he was told that he would be laid off due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the business.

"By the middle of February, clients started cancelling or postponing events, and activity was more or less dead," said Mr Leong, adding that like many other firms in the tourism industry, the company was hit badly by the pandemic.

Recounting the experience of being laid off, he said: "When they told me, I didn't react. In fact, it was my immediate boss who burst into tears, and my colleagues were in shock."

While he packed up his belongings and was out of the office in 30 minutes because he did not want to cause a scene, he spent the next month crying himself to sleep once the reality of the situation set in.

"I felt I was treated unfairly, and I kept thinking, 'Why me?' It felt personal," said Mr Leong, adding that to his knowledge, he was the only person laid off by the company.

Mr Leong, who lives alone, has spent more than 30 years in the tourism and travel industry.

Now, he hits the road every morning at 6.30am as a Grab driver and usually works a 12-hour shift.

 
 

He can make up to $180 "on a good day", but hopes to still use his years of experience in the travel industry to do something more.

"I have learnt to let it go. But I am still looking for work part-time," said Mr Leong, who has been actively searching for job opportunities.

He even applied to be a temperature taker for an organisation but was rejected because of his age.

"I think that some people just look at the CV, they might say, 'oh he is too old', and they might not give me a chance," said Mr Leong, who works out in the gym almost every day. "It is tough, but I am trying to be positive and open about it."

"You need to come to terms with the reality of retrenchment because Covid-19 has created unprecedented times," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2020, with the headline 'Retrenched at 62, but he's not ready to retire'. Print Edition | Subscribe