More applying to make Sarawak their second home post-border closure

Khoo Gek San

Sarawak’s second home scheme is much more attractive to foreign retirees than the MM2H, say agents. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, August 21, 2022.

THE Sarawak My Second Home (S-MM2H) programme, which was launched in 2020, received more than 200 applications in the first three months of the year, agents said.

Because the programme was launched during the Covid-19 pandemic, enquiries were slow to come in. Interest is reported to have peaked now that the borders have reopened.

Aramaz Borneo (MM2H) Sdn Bhd director Teresa Chai said since its launch in September 2020, applications from people of more than 30 nationalities have doubled monthly.

After the borders opened in October last year, applications began to flow in from countries in Asia and Europe, the United States and Canada, she said.

“From July to August, we received 50 applications after we promoted the programme on our website and social media,” Chai told The Malaysian Insight.

“In the first quarter of the year, there were 70 applications while 80 applications came in in the second quarter.”

Due to the demand, applications are taking at least six months to be approved, she said.

Chai said those who applied found Kuching to be appealing because of the environment, culture and climate.

That the state is not prone to natural disasters is another plus for retirees, she said.

Unlike MM2H, the S-MM2H programme only requires applicants to have a fixed deposit amount of RM300,000 for couples and RM150,000 for singles, Choi said.

They are only required to stay 15 days a year in the state for the five-year pass, which is renewable for another five years.

Last August, the government announced new conditions for the MM2H, including the requirement for applicants to have fixed savings of at least RM1 million and liquid assets of at least RM1.5 million.

Chai said some who applied for the MM2H programme have settled in Sarawak.

“At least 30% of my clients chose to stay in Sarawak. Foreigners like the low cost of living in the state,” she said.

Foreigners applying to make Sarawak their second home find the state appealing because of its environment, culture and climate. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, August 21, 2022.

More appealing

MM2H Agents’ Association president Anthony Liew said the Sarawak government’s scheme is much more attractive to retirees than the MM2H.

Applicants need not show proof of income, just proof of bank deposit, he said.

The MM2H programme also requires applicants to have an offshore income of at least RM40,000 a month, up from RM10,000 per month, which is impossible for many retirees, Liew said.

“There were 500 applications for the S-MM2H in the first six months of this year while MM2H has 6,000 applications, an average of 500 a month,” he said.

Liew said while foreigners want to live in Malaysia, they are worried that the government may change the application requirements.

“Our agents will help the clients apply for MM2H, but if they cannot meet the requirements, we will suggest S-MM2H or even the Sabah programme,” he said.

Liew said the government had in July 2020 rejected 6,000 MM2H applications without reason, causing interested applicants to lose confidence in the scheme.

Similar schemes in Thailand and Cambodia are attracting more people as the conditions are more favourable, he said.

“So how can we compete with them?” he asked.

MM2H agent Partick Ho said he had recommended three clients to apply for the S-MM2H, but only one was successful.

Only MM2H agents can facilitate the application, he said.

“My client first visited Kuching and he loved the environment and culture of Sarawak,” he said.

Ho said although the S-MM2H scheme is more friendly and attractive, agents are afraid to promote it for fear the applications will be rejected without reason.

“Malaysia is a great place to live in, but unfortunately, the policies are not friendly,” he said.

The MM2H programme generated RM40.6 billion from 21,841 approved applications from 2002 to 2018.

The new requirements have, however, led to a dip in interest in the programme.

The Immigration Department has received 267 MM2H applications since the programme resumed, Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin said.

He also said 1,461 people had withdrawn from the programme since September 2021 until June this year.

S-MM2H applicants, unless they are aged 50 and above, are required to be in Kuching to start the process of application. – August 21, 2022.

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