KUALA LUMPUR: Foreigners who are already living in the country for a long time under the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme should be subjected to the current conditions, says former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Any changes in conditions for those who are currently living in Malaysia could cause the withdrawal of funds and disruption in the real estate sector, something undesirable during this post-pandemic recovery period, he added.
"However, I agree that the conditions for new applicants of the MM2H programme can be tightened and implemented in stages in line with the conditions found in other countries in the region so that our offer will be more competitive," he said while debating the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) in Parliament on Tuesday (Sept 28).
The latest policy of MM2H that comes with tougher conditions has met with concerns from various parties, including Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.
During an audience granted to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in Johor last Saturday, His Majesty urged the government to expedite its review of the recent conditions of MM2H.
The Home Ministry has said the revised terms are aimed at attracting high-income earners.
Najib also said that in order to rebuild international ties with the world's major economies post-Covid-19, "Malaysia needs to excite the world again".
He said that this can be done by reviving the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, which will connect two major Asean economies.
"Aside from giving a new life to the southern peninsular corridor like Iskandar Malaysia, Batu Pahat, Muar, Melaka and Seremban, it is also expected to generate more than 70,000 direct and indirect job opportunities.
"After the completion of the HSR project, it is projected to generate revenues of US$1.6bil a year, according to a study by the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan, with the condition that it must be connected to Singapore.
"Replacing the HSR between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur with KLIA to Johor Baru will make the project non-viable and ultimately be detrimental to the country when it is forced to pay billions of ringgit worth of subsidies," said Najib.
The Pekan MP also proposed the reintroduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as soon as the country recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic, to reduce the income gap and attract more international investors.
He also suggested that the best way to measure the 12MP achievements is through the key performance index that can be reviewed every six months.
The report, he said, must be tabled to the rakyat as a yearly "report card" for the government.
"We need to see outcomes and achievements. We cannot afford to fail again," said Najib.