KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 ― The government could drive away much needed foreign investment and the expatriate community that has made Malaysia home with its new rules for the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, DAP’s Hannah Yeoh predicted today.
The Segambut MP said the new stringent rules could not be met by the majority of MM2H participants, and could lead to a “mass exodus” which would hurt the local economy across several sectors.
“According to the latest survey published by www.expatgo.com, 79 per cent of existing MM2H participants do not meet the new income requirement.
“Of those who do meet the income requirement, 89 per cent cannot meet the fixed deposit requirement and 90 per cent of participants say their views of Malaysia are now somewhat worse.
“The stringent criteria and unattractive requirements will inevitably lead to a mass exodus of MM2H participants,” she said in a statement.
Yeoh added that the unilateral announcement from the government would significantly hurt the local housing market, private education sector, tourism, and spending patterns in the local communities.
She pointed out that many MM2H participants live in her Segambut parliamentary constituency, which covers neighbourhoods like Mont Kiara and Sri Hartamas and are known to have a high density of expatriate families.
The former deputy women, family and community development minister urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to review the new rules.
She reminded the government that Malaysia is currently competing with other nations in the region to attract foreign investments in a challenging climate, where Malaysia's economy has taken a heavy beating.
“We cannot be sending the wrong message to the rest of the world during this time. These high thresholds must be reversed in the next Cabinet meeting.
“Fixing something that is not broken is sheer folly and Malaysia cannot afford this now,” she added.
Yeoh’s review call follows one issued by Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar of Johor last week.
The Johor Ruler described the new rules as very restrictive. He warned that such conditions would not make Malaysia the preferred destination for high-income foreigners.
The MM2H programme introduced in 2002 offered foreign nationals a 10-year-long visa that was renewable, and was meant to entice high-income visitors to stay in Malaysia for a long term.
Long-term MM2H participants, said to number 57,478 people, are said to have invested nearly RM12 billion in the economy since its inception.
They reportedly spend around RM10,000 a month, with many having purchased high-end properties in Johor.
The programme was suspended in August last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
On August 11, the government announced that it would be restarting MM2H again, beginning October, with changes to nine conditions.
Among them: participants need a fixed deposit of at least RM1 million and liquid assets of RM1.5 million instead of RM300,000-RM500,000 previously; monthly income of at least RM40,000 instead of RM10,000 previously; and stay in Malaysia a minimum of 90 days.