Big changes, some additions, or not much difference? Nothing is confirmed yet, but a clearer picture is beginning to take shape.
Our recent efforts to determine when the revised MM2H programme would be announced received a non-committal reply from the Ministry.
However, there has been some progress. The Minister of Tourism, Nancy Shukri, announced that the outside consultants, who have been reviewing the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, presented their findings to her. Their suggested revisions comprised a comprehensive proposal covering marketing, new procedures, and guidelines, as well as suggesting two new programmes: a Retirement Programme and Residence By Investment.
While it was a positive sign to know that the consultants have finally submitted their proposal, it did not answer the most pressing question, which is when can we expect the revised programme to be launched. The most likely reason for this is that the Minister does not know the answer. A government source advised us that Parliament needs to sign off on it, but they are not currently meeting and do not plan to have another session until after the current State of Emergency ends on August 1st.
The programme was suspended nine months ago – in July last year – which has resulted in Malaysia inexplicably turning its back on large amounts of foreign investment during a time of genuine economic need, as MM2H visa holders who relocate here collectively contribute billions of ringgit to the economy.
Not surprisingly, many people asked why it was decided to suspend the programme in the first place. The last review of the programme in 2010, which we participated in, was carried out without shutting it down.
Over the last few months, various pleas to reopen the MM2H programme have fallen on deaf ears. Moreover, there were still pending applications when it closed down in July which were returned unprocessed, and it is unclear whether they will be accepted for resubmission in the future.
The mention of a new “retirement programme” suggests that Malaysia may create a separate product specifically for retirees. The fact that applicants as young as over 21 could apply for the old programme argued against it being focused on retirees, and its name has led some people to regard it as a scheme targeting those looking for a second home for holidays, not for a primary residence.
In fact, many different categories of people applied. There were applicants from unstable countries who wanted a place where they could run if they felt forced to leave their current residence, there were others who only came here to educate their children, and yet others who worked outside Malaysia and wanted to make this country their base. Some applicants wanted to make a living here by starting a business which is only permitted under certain conditions. Of course, there were also those who chose Malaysia as a place to retire, setting up a life here to not only spend their golden years, but their money, too.
As for the Minister’s reference about ‘Residence By Investment,’ it will be interesting to see what that looks like, as it is possible to obtain Permanent Residency right now by making a US$2 million deposit in a Malaysian bank, if you can find a local sponsor.
There was no indication if the criteria to qualify would become harder that those in the old programme. There had been talk of raising the qualifying financial criteria, which we think would only deter suitable candidates from applying. Other countries’ retirement programmes mostly have lower income and fixed deposit requirements.
In our view, the priority should be to get the new programme launched as soon as possible so all the negative publicity can be put in the past and focus can resume on promoting Malaysia and the programme not questioning why the government could allow so much damage to a successful programme.
Currently, we have negative comments coming from resident visa holders who were, or still are, locked out of the country, from applicants who qualified for the visa but were rejected, from new applicants who cannot understand why it has been shut down for so long, and of course agents who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the decision to stop accepting new applications.
We hope to hear details of the new programme soon, and certainly would be happy to see the MM2H programme restarted.
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