KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme garnered almost RM1bil in net income in the past year alone despite its tighter conditions, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
He told Dewan Rakyat yesterday that from 2015 to 2019, or prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, there were 3,900 applicants, resulting in an injection of RM958mil of funds into the banking system.
More recently, 375 MM2H programme applications have been approved, while another 800 applicants received pre-approvals after being screened.
“Each of them has to put RM1mil into a fixed deposit account. That is RM800mil in our banking system.
“This one year alone, (overall collections) reached almost RM1bil,” he said, adding that the tightening of conditions was meant to attract “better” applicants.
“There is a drop in the number of applications now, but we tightened the conditions to go for ‘high quality’ (applicants),” he said in reply to a supplementary question from Datuk Seri Hasni Mohammad (BN-Simpang Renggam) .
Hasni had asked if there was a drop in MM2H participants due to a change of government policy that is also contributing to property overhang in states like Johor.
In August 2021, the government announced 10 new conditions for those interested in the MM2H programme, including having RM1.5mil of liquid assets, RM40,000 monthly offshore income, RM1mil in a fixed deposit account, and an additional RM50,000 per dependent.
Existing MM2H pass holders only need to comply with two out of the 10 new conditions: an increase in fees from RM90 to RM500 per year, and the requirement to stay in the country for a minimum of 90 days a year.
Saifuddin Nasution said the reason for the tighter conditions was to improve security lapses under the previous programme.
“All of the applicants must go through the security vetting, because previously, there were some lapses. Some of them were involved in spying activities, so we needed to tighten it,” he added.
At the same time, he said the conditions under the programme remained competitive with other countries.
“This is because our intention is to attract high-quality participants and those with high expertise,” he said.
Despite the changes, Saifuddin Nasution argued that the figures clearly showed that the response had been good for the MM2H programme, due to the recovery phase after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted and the country experiencing greater political stability.
In response, MM2H Consultants Association (MM2HCA) president Anthony Liew said the government should only consider incoming money as “income” when the required deposits from approved cases are in the country.
“There are only 375 cases approved, while 800 are waiting.
“The money must come in first. We should not assume,” he said, adding that there were also approved cases that decided not to take it up in the end.
In Tourism Malaysia’s efforts to promote MM2H, Liew said they have received feedback that the requirements were high compared with other countries.
“For example, in Japan and South Korea, whenever agents finish their presentations, there were fewer than 10 interested parties.
“Those who did all said the requirements were steep.
“This is a big difference from before the pandemic, when Malaysia used to be a top consideration as a retirement destination,” he said.
He went on to say that many Hong Kong residents favoured Thailand for this purpose now.
On the alleged spying, Liew said this could still happen even with tighter conditions.
“Given the vast and complex resources and other means, they will still make it, even if they have to put RM1mil in the country,” he said.
He added that Malaysia must seriously review its requirements so it will not lose out to Thailand, Indonesia, and Cambodia, which are moving aggressively to attract the same clientele.