“Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!”
The pandemic has led to a crisis in both the economy as well as public health of the country with the two factors often requiring a delicate balance.
Although minimal in quantity, expats and foreign investors play a significant role in keeping our economy afloat as well as help maintain positive international relations.
In order to secure this group, Malaysia had offered residency via the programme, Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) which was temporarily suspended in 2020 for over a year now.
The visa initiative was introduced in 2002 to promote the country as a desirable place of residence for foreign citizens by granting them a renewable multiple-entry visa.
However, it previously came with a set of requirements, namely: a minimum monthly income for an applicant was RM10,000, the minimum fixed deposit was RM150,000, and the minimum liquidity requirement was RM350,000 with a yearly visa fee of RM90 and a duration of 10 years.
Despite the requirements, the expat community in the country thrived which is exemplified by the 48,471 MM2H visa holders, including dependents between 2002 and 2019 and an approximate RM40.6 billion which entered our nation between the program introduction in 2002 until 2018.
Revisions to set of requirements
The scheme is finally reopening and accepting new applicants starting from October 2021 however, some of its conditions have been revised drastically resulting in an uproar from the expat community in Malaysia and foreign investors.
The drastic changes include increases in:
- required minimum monthly income to RM40,000 (300% increase),
- required minimum fixed deposit to RM1 million (600% increase),
- required minimum liquidity requirement to RM1.5 million (400% increase),
- yearly visa fee to RM500 (600% increase),
Additionally, the duration of MM2H visa which was previously 10 years, has been reduced to five.
To make matters worse, the new ruling will also apply to existing participants whose passes have ended or will end and not just new applicants.
The need for the change
The revisions were announced by Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz on 11 August, who said that it was to mitigate local “concerns” on foreign citizens and to stimulate the economy.
“The government understands the rakyat’s concerns and worries about foreign citizens entering the country through the MM2H programme, which is feared to increase the flood of foreigners in Malaysia.”
He pointed out that therefore, the government has agreed to set a ceiling number for MM2H applicants and dependents at no more than one per cent of the total number of Malaysian citizens at one time.
The uproar from expatriates and Malaysians
The new requirements announced by the Government on the MM2H programme has been met with a ton of criticism with many people calling it “unfair” and “discriminatory.” It is also reported that this has led to potential expats and even those currently under the programme to look towards other countries to call home.
It has even lead to an emergence of a petition titled ‘Objection to New Policies of Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) Programme’. The online petition currently sits on over 5,000 signatures.
The description of the petition calls for existing MM2H holders to be exempted from the newly announced policy and that a mandatory obligation to fulfil the new policy must not be implemented for current MM2H holders.
Whilst it is important to attract participants of real quality and value to retire in Malaysia, drastic changes will only drive people away. If we are indeed serious about wanting to promote Malaysia as an excellent destination for foreigners to come to reside and invest in, drastic and sudden changes to policies will get us nowhere.
What do you think of this? Let us know in the comments!
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