MM2H: The final nail in the coffin?
Earlier this week, the Malaysian government announced that the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program would be reactivated after being suspended for more than a year.
The reactivation has come however with a slew of new requirements for new applicants. The key points are listed below:
Offshore income of at least RM40,000 a month (Previously set at RM10,000)
Liquid asset declaration of at least RM1.5 million (Previously set at RM350,000 and RM500,000 respectively)
Upon approval, deposit RM1 million into a Fixed savings account (Previously RM150,000 for applicants aged 50 years old and above, and RM300,000 for those below 50 years of age)
5 year renewable visa (Previously applicants were awarded with a 10 year renewable visa)
Unfortunately it looks as though after months of so-called study, that the government as somehow ended up making the MM2H program even less competitive. “Their plan will backfire stupendously”, says the Managing Director of Movetomalaysia.co.uk. “They believe that with these high requirements they can entice the cream of the crop of foreign expats but they seem to not realize that with that amount of money, there are plenty other better options for foreigners to choose from.”
Let’s not kid ourselves. Malaysia is nowhere close to the likes of other premium retirement destinations. At best, it has always been a second-class option, a tropical destination that is value for money. With the introduction of the new requirements, nearly all South East Asian destinations are much more of a bargain. If someone earns RM40,000 a month why would they consider Malaysia? There are many other more developed countries that offer a better lifestyle and would welcome you with open arms.
The MM2H Consultants Association (MM2HCA) president Anthony Liew also issued a statement claiming that the new requirements are too high and the association is pushing the government for better terms. And as another expat visa website rightly pointed out, the new MM2H program requirements will disqualify nearly all applicants and existing visa holders.
Unfortunately the news of potentially more stringent requirements will not help the already tarnished reputation of the program. Last year the Malaysian government’s refusal to allow MM2H holders back into the country when international borders were suddenly closed received much backlash from locals and foreigners alike. A MM2H holder who did not want to be named had this to say. “The MM2H visa is akin to someone holding a residence pass. It was shocking that we were not allowed back to our home in Kuala Lumpur. Instead we were advised to return to the UK. We had already packed up and left the UK years ago for Malaysia. Why would we return to the UK and await the end of the pandemic? Malaysia has been our home for years.”
What is even more dismaying is a quick poll by our company on current MM2H holders has revealed that almost 90% of those surveyed will be leaving Malaysia if these new rules are imposed. “We simply will not be able to meet the new requirements upon renewal”, said an American expat that did not want to be named. “We will sell our home here and move to another country. Maybe Costa Rica?”
Disappointing as all this news is, expats should not rule out Malaysia just yet. Over the past weeks speculation has been rife that the weak government of the day helmed by Mahiaddin Yassin will collapse very soon. It remains to be seen if the program will once again be put on hold and reevaluated further by the next government.
If a new government takes over, or if the program is given further evaluation by the present government, the long-term stability of the program will be key to its success. A long-term residency program must provide assurances to applicants that they will not be thrown out on the whims and fancies of the sitting government. Program requirements also should not change especially for those already on the program based on previously agreed requirements.
We at Myfirst MM2H hope another proper evaluation of the program is taken in order to ensure the program is competitive and able to attract expats to Malaysia.