IN 2015, my wife and I began to consider our retirement plans. We knew that we wanted to move to South-East Asia as we wanted to take advantage of our age and travel throughout this part of the world while our health still permitted.
While researching online, my wife discovered the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme. After spending a holiday here in 2016, we were convinced Malaysia would become our new home!
We initially chose Malaysia because of its high use of English, central location for easy travel throughout Asia and the promise of a renewable 10-year MM2H visa.
After retiring and moving to Penang in 2018, we quickly came to love so many things about living in this country. Friendly smiles from almost everyone we encounter or a stranger’s willingness to go out of their way to help a lost and bumbling orang asing convinced us that Malaysians are truly warm and friendly people.
We love it when a local proudly recommends their favourite food such as Penang laksa or ikan bakar, and have come to embrace the food culture here. We have marked our calendars with all of the holidays celebrated here and have realised that not only is Malaysia a multi-ethnic and multicultural society but, more importantly, it also allows each group to maintain their own separate and unique cultural identities (unlike our country, which forces immigrants to assimilate and conform).
We have done our best to fit in. We now have an adik lelaki and adik perempuan, and we love spending time at their house in Kota Kuala Mudah. We have joined our new friends to honour their relatives at wakes and funerals on the island and in Seberang Perai. I continue to study Bahasa and do my best to learn Hokkien (just knowing lu ho bo and ho chiak goes a long way on the island).
However, beginning Oct 1, the rules of the MM2H programme (and the lives of all MM2H visa holders) will change. While the original rules required applicants to have a minimum of RM10,000 per month in offshore income, we will now be required to have RM40,000. Whereas the original rules required us to deposit RM150,000 in a fixed deposit in Malaysia, we will now be required to place RM1mil.
As financially blessed as my wife and I are, we (along with 90%-95% of all visa holders) will no longer qualify for the programme and will have to leave Malaysia when our visas expire.
We are privileged to live here and know that the government has the right to change the rules under which we live. We also acknowledge that we are not entitled to any special treatment. More importantly, the Malaysian government is currently focused on leading our country out of the most challenging situation since World War 2, not on trying to appease a small number of orang kaya asing.
However, the promise of the MM2H programme has always been that any new, stricter requirements would NOT be applied to existing visa holders. We hope and pray that Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin will reconsider the recently announced requirements as they apply to the current visa holders. We sincerely want to remain in Malaysia and enjoy the wonderfully diverse and hospitable culture here.
WILLIAM (BJ) HUFFMAN