Country’s economy, image at stake in MM2H freeze, say consultants

The Malaysia My Second Home programme has been put on hold until the end of the year for review and improvement.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) consultants are worried about the effect the temporary freeze on the programme will have on the country’s economy and its image overseas.

Already reeling from the 90% rejection rate for recent applications, MM2H consultants were given another shock last week when the government announced that the programme would be frozen until the end of the year for review and improvement.

Questioning the timing of the freeze, one consultant said the economy was undergoing a “sensitive” period and added that improvements to the programme should not take six months to complete.

“This is a disaster,” he told FMT. “There will be a lot of casualties. It will have a ripple effect on other industries, which will be especially bad because Malaysia is trying to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement control order.

“I hope the government will change its mind.”

Established in 2002, the programme under the tourism, arts and culture ministry allows foreigners to stay in Malaysia for a period of 10 years. Successful applicants, who number nearly 39,000, have brought in RM40.6 billion throughout the programme’s 18 years, most of it from property purchases and compulsory fixed deposits in local banks.

The programme’s participants spent an estimated RM4.9 billion in 2017 and RM4.4 billion in 2018 on property, rent, vehicles and immigration fees. Among the other sectors they have contributed to are medical, education, travel, hospitality, retail, restaurant and entertainment.

Immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud said last week that the department’s headquarters in Putrajaya would handle all MM2H matters. The announcement followed a report in FMT that the MM2H Centre in the tourism ministry had been closed “until further notice”.

Another consultant lamented that the time he had spent promoting Malaysia to prospective MM2H participants might now be wasted.

“Last year I flew to Hong Kong nearly every weekend to promote MM2H and Malaysian properties, schools and hospitals,” he said.

“This news is too sudden. We’ve been working many years to promote Malaysia very hard, and now all this progress has been cut just like that.

“How many billions will Malaysia lose? Foreigners will have a bad image of us. How are we going to answer our customers?”

Noting that neighbouring countries like Thailand have similar programmes, the consultant said he was worried that their “aggressive” promotional campaigns would draw potential MM2H participants away from Malaysia.

Another consultant agreed that the temporary freeze would result in a lack of confidence in the programme and create a bad image of Malaysia.

“We’re not just receiving and submitting documents,” he said. “We’re also promoters for the country.

“We’ve introduced the participants to international schools for their children, to properties and to the lifestyle here.

“We were so confident that Malaysia would welcome them.”

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.