Why More Will Look For Second Home Elsewhere
Robert Dillon (not his real name) is a participant of the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme. He is puzzled by the recent changes in the MM2H rules and wonders if the government is aware that many potential applicants will not be taking part in the programme, and current MM2H visa holders will have left or will go soon.
The drastic changes reflect Putrajaya’s desire to attract extremely wealthy foreigners, but why would they come to Malaysia, where religious and racial intolerance is on the rise, large-scale corruption appears to be returning, and convicted corrupt politicians are making a comeback?
A typical comment came from an observer who said: “Many of your neighbouring countries are far more attractive. If I had the money, I would go to the Bahamas, Greece or the south of France.”
Besides attracting wealthy individuals, doesn’t Putrajaya care about the other valuable contributions made, like cultural exchange, or that the expatriate community can share their vast experience in all manner of things and skills when interacting with the local community?
Dillon has lived in Malaysia for 11 years and will leave as soon as circumstances permit. He claims that several countries, such as Turkey, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam and Portugal, offer very good, and better, alternatives to the revised MM2H programme.
He came to Malaysia because his wife is Malaysian and at the time, the nation seemed a good place to retire, feedback was positive, and the British historical link meant that Malaysia was an easy transition. The economy was also growing and the prospects looked good.
In the initial stages, he says, Malaysia was what he and his wife expected. Such was their enthusiasm that they invested in a business in the tourism industry as that was their line of expertise.
After about four years, Dillon and his wife noticed the degradation. He says: “It was more than obvious that expats were considered a source of income and the authorities started to be less friendly and accommodating. The phrase ‘go back to your own country’ appeared more often.”
Under the revised rules, applicants must have a compulsory fixed deposit (FD) of RM1 million in a local bank, an offshore monthly income of RM40,000, at least RM1.5 million in liquid assets, a minimum of 90 days spent in Malaysia and their multiple-entry visa reduced from 10 years to five.
For Dillon, the impact was too great. “The requirement is too high and even if I did qualify, I would not commit to such a level in Malaysia as it does not feel that rules and agreements are going to be respected by the authorities. Things could deteriorate or change quickly. Other countries do not require as much and are less conservative than Malaysia. Therefore, as soon as I can, I would move out of Malaysia.”
Dhillon thinks the departure of expatriates will affect the communities in which they live. “A lot of expatriates contribute their skills to the local community, especially in arts and music. They take part in local charities.
“During the pandemic, expats were some of the first to respond to the call for help to feed local people. They supported local businesses.”
The new requirements will severely impact the nation because MM2H expats contribute to the Malaysian economy in many different ways. Korean and Japanese children study in local international schools. Most MM2H holders have an average expenditure of RM10,000 a month, hold bank accounts and perform international bank transfers. They own credit cards and have deposits in local banks.
All that will decrease by around 80% if the expats leave Malaysia, opines Dillon. Even local contractors and businesses that apply “white man charges” on a regular basis will have to take a cut, he says.
According to him, if the authorities claim that 7,000 to 8,000 MM2H visa holders do not stay in Malaysia, it is ridiculous to change all the rules because of these individuals. In the end, innocent people will also be punished.
Dillon also says most MM2H holders are genuine, but it has been alleged that property buyers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were being enticed with the “additional value of obtaining MM2H status with their property purchase”, and this is probably where the issue started.
He also wonders why the authorities are stressing a need for better security from foreigners flooding into the country. “What do they mean? MM2H has never been a security issue. So, are we bundled in with foreign workers?
“I think this revamp is an attempt to appeal to the voters by showing a strong nationalistic approach, which will come at a severe financial cost.”
Dillon’s message to the government is simple: The authorities should review the programme based on independent research and a realistic financial approach, and not do it for political gain. - FMT
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of MMKtT.
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