KUALA LUMPUR: The Home Ministry has the final say in approving applicants in the "Malaysia My Second Home" (MM2H) initiative, especially those from Hong Kong, says Datuk Isham Ishak.
The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry secretary-general said interested participants are more than welcome, but added that they must be genuine.
"To date, I won't say there is a sudden influx, I haven't seen the records yet but we do welcome new participants from Hong Kong interested to come to Malaysia.
"However, they must not be running away from anything.
"Of course we will do background checks to ensure they are not terrorists taking this opportunity to come to Malaysia for their (own) reasons," he said when asked to comment on news reports that the MM2H programme had drawn 251 applications from Hong Kong residents this year, compared with 193 approved last year.
Hong Kong has been gripped by anti-government protests over a now-suspended extradition bill, causing disruptions including unrest at the airport.
Isham said the ministry was "very confident" with the processing done by the Home Ministry.
"We have the police who will screen the applicants and they have their network as well.
"If there are people who are unruly or unwelcome, and those who shouldn't be participating in this programme (under the Tourism Ministry), I am sure the Home Ministry will have that information," he said when asked if applicants in the MM2H from Hong Kong will be scrutinised more given the unrest there.
Isham said that the ministry is also looking at introducing an automated system to facilitate those applying for the programme.
Did you find this article insightful?