Too much time lost in putting MM2H back on right track

PETALING JAYA: Act fast, or it will be a struggle to reboot the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, which is coming dangerously close to flatlining.

“I hope a decision will be made soon on the review of the MM2H programme. We have to act fast so that we don’t lose out to Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia, which are aggressively promoting their own programmes,” said Malaysia My Second Home Consultants Association (MM2HCA) president Anthony Liew.

The MM2H programme, he added, could help in revitalising the nation’s economy.

Liew said the programme had previously generated about RM40bil in spin-off revenue through the sale of homes, cars and other goods.

“At the moment, the approval rate for the MM2H programme is about 10% compared to approvals in 2017 and 2018,” he said.

On April 18, the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry issued a statement saying the government would review the MM2H’s requirements to make it more flexible.

This follows a decision that Tourism Malaysia would promote and provide recommendations for applications via a filtering process through a MM2H one-stop centre, rather than by the Home Ministry.

The MM2H programme was put on hold in 2018, but revived in October 2021 with stricter conditions.

Prior to this, some 34,347 foreigners were granted 10-year social visit passes, which was renewable upon fulfilling certain conditions. Since the change in requirements, only 267 new applications were received between September 2021 and June 2022, with 1,461 holders pulling out.Meanwhile, Liew said the government’s decision to review MM2H was only agreed upon in principle.

“Nothing has been finalised and it is still in the planning stage based on a mutual agreement that Tourism Malaysia would set up a one-stop centre for the programme.It still hasn’t gone to the Cabinet and this will likely be done in June or later,” he said.

Applicants under the MM2H programme have to show a minimum offshore income of RM40,000, compared to RM10,000 previously. Also increased was the proof of liquid assets between RM350,000 and RM500,000, to RM1.5mil.

Applicants also have to spend 90 days in the country, unlike previously, where there was no such condition.

Patrick Ho, an MM2H consultant, said that applications for the programme had decreased drastically.

“We used to process about 10 applications a month under the previous MM2H criteria. But now we have only processed five applications in the last 18 months since the programme was revived,” he said.

Ho added that there was a likelihood many existing MM2H participants would be leaving the country if there were delays in reviewing the programme.

“We have handled up to 50 termination applications when borders reopened. Some decided to leave due to financial constraints, while there were those who left due to the flipflop in our policies,” he said.

Malaysian Institute of Estate Agents’ (MIEA) chief executive officer K. Soma Sundram said stakeholders should be called in to give their input.

“The changes to the MM2H were disruptive because it was done overnight without time for stakeholders to make adjustments,” he said, adding that previous attempts by MIEA to reach out to the government were ignored.

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