KUALA LUMPUR: The country stands to lose up to RM48bil if the majority of the existing Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) participants were to leave Malaysia as a result of its newly announced stricter requirements, says former Tourism, Arts and Culture minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (pic).
He cited statistics which showed MM2H participants spent an average of RM4bil annually since 2018, adding that Malaysia should be inviting them to contribute to the nation's economy.
"If they aren't happy with the new rules, they will sell their properties, withdraw their deposits and as such, and we could lose up to RM48bil which could flow to other countries," said Nazri (BN-Padang Rengas) during his speech on the 12th Malaysian Plan (12MP) in Parliament on Tuesday (Sept 28).
Nazri also said the government should be concerned over regional tourist destinations such as Thailand and Indonesia, as they are contenders to the MM2H programme.
"I'm asking the Home Ministry to stop perceiving that everyone is taking advantage of the MM2H and they are potentially security threats.
"We should invite them, make things easier for them and allow them to contribute RM4bil to us."
Earlier in his speech, Nazri criticised the government's decision on transferring the MM2H programme from the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry's purview to the Home Ministry.
He said there has been a precedent of visa applications being routinely rejected by the Home Ministry with no excuses given.
"The Home Ministry will look into national safety and security and I understand that applications processed by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry will be handed over to the Immigration Department under the Home Ministry.
"In the end, the Immigration Department would reject the applications with no excuses given," said Nazri, who was a former Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister.
Nazri said there were more than 57,000 MM2H applicants and none of them were suspected or charged with being security threats to the country.
"Maybe, if all of the 57,000 were investigated, I think none of them will be charged by the government as threats to the country," he quipped.
Nazri also said that since the programme commenced in 2002, there have been a total of 57,478 applicants under the MM2H programme, which consists of 28,249 main applicants with 29,229 dependents.
"This is a huge figure and more importantly, they are bringing foreign funds into our country and more than RM4bil was spent in 2018 by them," he added.
MM2H was suspended in August last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was announced recently that the MM2H would be reactivated with nine new conditions, which takes effect on October.
This includes an increase in the minimum monthly income (derived from offshore sources) to RM40,000, a minimum fixed deposit of RM1mil, and a minimum liquidity requirement of RM1.5mil.
There is also a requirement of a minimum 90-day cumulative stay in a year in Malaysia, a yearly visa fee of RM500 and a reduction of the visa duration to five years.