MM2H applicants out of patience after 18 months of delay, agents warn

Khoo Gek San

Interested applicants as well as companies and associations that form the ecosystem of the Malaysia My Second Home programme have been in a limbo with no end in sight since the suspension of the plan in end of 2019. - The Malaysian Insight pic, July 26, 2021.

MANY foreigners who have applied to set up residence in Malaysia are fast losing hope that the government will lift the suspension of the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, agents said.

They said Malaysia stands to lose out as neighbouring countries continued their immigration policies despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

MM2H was launched in 2002 to attract foreign capital, promote tourism, and develop the national economy by encouraging the long-term stay of foreigners in Malaysia with simpler procedures and more advantages such as a visa period of 10 years.

The programme has been suspended since the end of 2019, without any updates from the government, leaving thousands of applicants frustrated.

“Since last year, 2,000 applications have been refused, resulting in a national loss of up to RM1.5 billion. This is an unprecedented phenomenon since the launch of this programme,” said MM2H Agent Association president Anthony Liew.

He told The Malaysian Insight that most of the applicants had lost their patience, indicating that they cancelled their applications as they were unwilling to wait any longer.

According to Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri, the purpose of the suspension is to allow the ministry to make detailed specifications and improvements to various aspects of the programme, which includes safety, property, wellbeing, and its economic impact.

Liew said that the association met with the minister on December 20 last year. Based on the minister’s feedback, he had hoped that the MM2H programme would have restarted in March or April of this year.

Unfortunately, there is still no information to date. Liew said the association also filed a complaint in July 2020.

He urged the government to announce the new specifications of the programme soon to allow consulting firms to continue promoting MM2H and to help the government attract more foreign exchange earnings.

“Applicants can prepare their applications in their own countries beforehand, since that process can take up to two to three months. Then, they can submit their applications in person once Malaysia’s borders reopen. 

“With the government’s vaccination plan going well, restarting MM2H now will prepare Malaysia for the first opportunity to attract foreign investors once the borders open up again. So, why not?” Liew asked.

He also highlighted that Malaysia is the only country to have paused its immigration settlement scheme, as compared to countries in other parts of the world.

Thailand’s running migration plan

Michael Cheam, the managing director of Iconic Living Group, who has been operating the MM2H plan for more than 10 years, said that the company had self-funded to promote the MM2H plan in Europe and other Asian countries.

Cheam said that he kept in touch with consultants overseas and found out that the migration plans of other countries have been proceeding as usual.

“Take Thailand for example. The migration consultants and companies have been doing very well during the pandemic.
“Thailand never had its migration policy interrupted. How can Malaysia compete with other countries?” Cheam said.

Iconic Living Group has been hanging on for 16 months without an income, he said.

“The company will not be able to sustain itself if it continues to pay its employees’ wages under the present circumstances, unless it suspends payment of salaries. 

“I told my employees that they can leave if they find a new job, and that we will be sure to hire them first if the company resumes operations,” Cheam said.

Cheam added that the credibility of the MM2H project has been affected as foreigners’ confidence in Malaysia has greatly diminished.

To restore foreigners’ confidence, Cheam said it is necessary to announce a clear direction without further delay.

Agents suffering too

BOSL Planning (MM2H) Sdn Bhd owner Raja Ummi Hairima said that she used to put in applications for candidates from countries such as Japan, Bangladesh, Syria, and Yemen.

“Their hope is still to wait to apply when the government reopens the MM2H programme.

“Some customers from Japan have expressed interest in applying, they are just waiting for the borders to be opened again,” she said.

Ummi has not had any other source of income except the job of renewing visas, which does not fetch a lot of revenue. 
“I have tried other jobs, but my income cannot cover the expenses. I estimated that I have enough savings for only nine months if the MM2H plan does not restart,” she said.

According to a poll conducted by the MM2H Consultants Association in 2020, among 108 consulting companies, 31.5% of respondents, indicated that they will not be able to last longer than three months if the programme continues to be frozen.

Of those surveyed, 26.9% said they have no cash reserves, while 23.1% are unsure how long existing reserves can last. Only 12% said they can probably survive a further four to six months.

For a programme that has helped bring money into Malaysia since its launch in 2002, 75% of the consulting companies said they have not received any support from the government or from financial institutions, whether in terms of grants, government-backed loans or a moratorium on loan repayments. – July 26, 2021.

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