I WOULD like to express my concerns regarding the plan to impose new rules for the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme on existing visa holders (“Conditional MM2H returns”, The Star, Aug 12; online at bit.ly/star_ 2ndhome).
My companies have been actively promoting the MM2H programme in Malaysia for many years. We love living in Malaysia and have enjoyed encouraging people to visit, invest and retire here. However, we were all very saddened to read about the new MM2H programme, which our research shows will, unfortunately, have very few applicants.
We are especially concerned about the plan to require existing MM2Hers to meet the new criteria. We have received dozens of messages from distressed visa holders.
We estimate that more than 90% of the current visa holders do not meet the new criteria so most will be forced to leave Malaysia and, of course, take their money with them. Since the programme started nearly 20 years ago, only around 40,000 applications have been approved and many of them never moved to Malaysia, while others have moved elsewhere and, of course, some have died. This means the number of MM2H visa holders currently living here is negligible compared with the general population. They are almost certainly less than 0.1% of the population, far removed from the planned ceiling of 1%.
However, the small group who did relocate here have contributed billions of ringgit to the Malaysian economy. Just as they were advised they would never receive permanent residency or citizenship, they were also assured any changes to the rules would not apply to them. As a result, our last survey revealed that 72% planned to spend the rest of their lives here.
They are absolutely no threat to the local population, just a few thousand new residents, while the population of Malaysia has increased by nine million since the programme was launched. They have to pay for everything they enjoy in Malaysia with the money they bring into the country so they should be welcomed with open arms They are great ambassadors for the country and their presence undoubtedly has helped the country secure foreign direct investment.
I am concerned that if they are forced to leave, not only will the country lose billions of ringgit but it will also severely tarnish the image of the programme itself. That would be very sad as it was widely regarded as one of the world’s best retirement programmes.
Other countries now recognise the value of these types of visas and have either launched their own versions or are in the process of doing so. They will be happy to accept this group – but why does Malaysia want them to leave?
J. ANDREW DAVISON