‘For some of us, Malaysia is our first home’

GEORGE TOWN: The proposed easing of the conditions for the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme has been welcomed by some expatriates in Penang.

They said it would allow them to continue calling Malaysia their home while the country attracts many new participants who can contribute to the economy, cultural diversity and talent market.

Their comments came following the announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who during the tabling of Budget 2024 on Oct 13, said Putrajaya is looking to ease MM2H conditions to make Malaysia more tourist- and investor-friendly.

Stringent conditions implemented since August 2021 have led to a significant drop in MM2H applications.

While the actual proposed changes have yet to be announced, expatriates like Emi Yamazaki hope it involves a lowering of the monthly income requirement.

“The savings and assets are not the main problem for most foreigners considering living in Malaysia. It’s the monthly income as most retirees’ pensions do not reach RM40,000.

“For the few that do, other options like Australia, America or England would be on the table. Lowering the amount will make a huge difference in attracting people to come and spend here.

“If I had to give an amount, the previous sum of RM10,000 per person or RM20,000 for a couple was reasonable,” said Yamazaki, a Japanese who has lived in Penang for the past 22 years.

Yamazaki said she has contributed significantly to the state’s cultural scene, having been involved with numerous community events that foster closer ties between the peoples of Malaysia and Japan.

“Penang is a wonderful place to live. It’s comfortable, relaxing and reasonably priced. Everybody is friendly and the bucolic atmosphere feels like paradise.”

Neighbouring countries like Thailand and the Philippines have similar programmes for expatriates but with less stringent requirements.

Another expatriate, who moved to Penang five years ago from Thailand, is considering heading back to the country’s northern neighbour after the family’s visa expires next year.

“Unfortunately, I know many friends who are selling their properties and leaving. We might reconsider depending on what rules are being relaxed and when they will take effect,” she said.

She also hopes the government will resolve to maintain any new criteria for the foreseeable future and not flip-flop every time there is a change of heart or administration.

“Or at least, uphold conditions that were originally in place and agreed upon for existing residents when they first applied, and continue them for each renewal until cancellation.

“That’s because many foreigners under the MM2H programme like myself have made Malaysia our first home rather than our second.

“This is our permanent place of residence.

“We all contribute to the Malaysian economy daily and all we’re asking is to have some long-term security rather than being seen as a tourist or six-month holidayer.

“Imagine buying property and then suddenly discovering that you’re no longer eligible to stay here,” she added.

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MM2H , Penang , Expatriates , Budget 2024


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