100 consultancies risk closure after MM2H suspension

Khoo Gek San

SOME 100 consultancy companies may shut down in a few months following the government’s suspension of the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme.

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry has halted the scheme till year-end, and consultancies have seen little revenue over the last seven months amid the Covid-19 crisis.

MM2H Agents’ Association president Lim Kok Sai told The Malaysian Insight that the group has sent letters to Minister Nancy Shukri four times seeking a meeting, but has not received a reply.

About 3,000 applications processed by the association’s members have been returned.

“We have 250 members, with some 200 of them active. If the Tourism Ministry ignores us again, it is estimated that more than 100 companies will be closed within three months. The next month will be a critical period.

“The documents returned in September last year were also part of the collection of deposits, which were used to process papers and pay employees’ salaries in the various agencies.

“Suddenly, the applications from last year were returned to us. All the effort was wasted. I don’t know how to refund the deposits.”

He expressed hope that the ministry will respond within a month, with a clarification on whether the documents submitted last year can be sent in again.

Lim estimated that 2,000 points of application were returned, with losses amounting to RM1.5 billion.

Many consultancy firms are laying off workers or putting employees on unpaid leave, he said.

“In a company that has two to three employees, they take turns being on unpaid leave. Also, the working days are reduced from five a week to just two.

“We will do everything we can to increase revenue and reduce expenditure, but if there is no new development over the next month, it will be difficult for companies to not let go of employees.”

The government on June 29 announced MM2H’s suspension and said applications from 2019 have been returned. It has yet to provide a clear reason as to why a review is required or say whether previous applicants can resubmit their documents.

An employee waits for customers at a Korean market in Sabah. MM2H’s aim is to encourage foreigners to apply for multiple entry and exit visas, and there are very few who actually live in Malaysia. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, August 4, 2020.

MM2H agent Patrick Ho Shaur Kiat said in the past, almost all applications would be approved due to the government’s screening carried out early into the process.

“We say 90% of applications are approved, as unqualified applicants are screened out in the first phase. But today, we are treated as if we are scammers.

“We can’t answer customers’ questions. There is no answer to when the programme will reopen. There is no reason for applicants’ documents to be returned.

“Ironically, the documents we submitted indicate that the papers and the personal information contained in them are government property and cannot be retrieved. What about returning them to us?

“If the government continues to ignore and evade responsibility, foreigners will regard us as liars and won’t come to Malaysia to invest and do business.”

He said MM2H’s aim is to encourage foreigners to apply for multiple entry and exit visas, and there are very few who actually reside here.

“Before the Covid-19 outbreak, we went to Hong Kong and China to promote the programme, hoping to attract foreigners to invest in Malaysia. Investment can drive local real estate and the economy.

“Why isn’t the government thinking about us? We are attracting foreign investment, but they have cut off the plan and are letting locals lose their jobs and livelihood.”

Association vice-chairman Anthony Liew was a full-time consultant, but has started doing other jobs.

“Some people have made the switch to online businesses. Some who have been in this business for a long time will face difficulty finding other outlets. Some have begun looking for other jobs.

“I am a relatively conservative person. I usually have savings, but I cannot go more than three months with zero income. I have to pay staff salaries and the company rent.

“So far, I’ve not laid off employees. But if this continues, I may consider it.” – August 4, 2020.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.