According to an article published by Sin Chew Daily on Tuesday, September 29, the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia, Mr Bai Tian, has urged the Malaysian government to revive the troubled MM2H programme as soon as possible in a bid to lure more foreign investment from China and to boost bilateral trade.
The suspension of the programme and steadfast refusal of the government to treat MM2Hers as legitimate residents, despite being invited to set up their homes in Malaysia upon approval of the visa, has caused significant distress for many people, and inflicted serious damage on the programme and on the broader reputation of Malaysia.
“This is bad news for some 5,000 Chinese nationals who applied for MM2H and have invested in this country,” the article said (in a translation from Chinese). “They will now have to wait for the relaunch of MM2H, which could be next year or even later, and the new criteria may be even stricter in order to qualify.”
The article goes on to lament the effects the suspension and treatment of those already holding the 10-year MM2H visa have had on Chinese citizens, noting that on social media, “we can read that many MM2H applicants [and visa holders] are helpless, especially those who have bought properties in Malaysia and arranged for their children’s education here.”
Further, it says, “Many are now prepared to give up their applications and sell off their properties in Malaysia. This may lead to a ‘herd effect’, with an adverse impact on the country’s property sector.”
A Disturbing Disconnect
The Sin Chew piece notes that it takes a lot of courage and planning to commit to the decision to migrate to another country and set up a home there, a choice that may affect several generations in the family. To those civil servants at Malaysian Immigration who are issuing these decisions, however, “this is just part of their daily 9-to-5 job! For the applicants, it’s like being an ant on a hot plate, while the government officials are just taking their own sweet time. This is causing a lot of disparity between the two parties.”
In a more critical tone, the article says that if the government is serious about rolling out a new version of MM2H, then “it should be more professional in its explanation. This explanation should address the 90% rejection rate of recent applications, said to be because the government’s policies are under review, but not necessarily because the applicants failed to meet the criteria under which their applications were submitted.”
The article goes on to call on the government to launch the new version of MM2H with any new criteria clearly stated in the shortest possible span of time, to properly notify the relevant embassies and consulates, and not reject applications for no valid reason, noting that such authority to reject applications for no stated reason offers a broad opportunity for bribery and corruption. Finally, there is a clear call for the government to treat MM2Hers better – as residents, not as unwanted pests or second-class citizens.
Why are MM2H’s Huge Economic Benefits Being Dismissed?
As many others have pointed out, the Chinese Ambassador and the Sin Chew article note the economic benefits that MM2H brings to Malaysia. Up to 2019, some RM16 billion in revenue has been added to the national coffers by the MM2H programme, along with the ancillary “chain effects” generated by all that revenue.
The article states, “Fixed deposits and property purchases made up RM6 billion each, along with additional education, living, and medical expenses of MM2Hers. How can Malaysia even temporarily freeze the MM2H programme and applications given such lucrative revenue? Can’t the government review the policy while still accepting new applications?”
The decisions made so far in 2020 by authorities regarding the MM2H programme have undoubtedly caused serious damage to the programme and to Malaysia’s international standing. It’s gratifying to see that even important diplomats are chiming in, along with community leaders, media outlets, and business chambers, in urging the Malaysian government to consider the programme’s immense value to the country, along with a negligible impact on its society, and reinstate MM2H quickly, and in so doing, also affirm to treat those visa holders – who they have explicitly invited to establish homes in Malaysia – as valid and valued residents.
Editor’s Note: Some of the quotes attributed to the Sin Chew Daily article, in view of the Chinese-to-English translation, have been lightly edited for greater clarity.
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