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Stakeholders have baulked at the “drastic” new terms for the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme.
Unless the government reconsiders these rules, they cautioned that Malaysia may lose out to neighbouring nations in attracting foreign retirees.
The groups also said it was "unethical" to impose these terms on existing MM2H holders, many of whom have built their lives in Malaysia.
Under the new MM2H eligibility terms, the minimum monthly income was raised 400 percent from RM10,000 to RM40,000.
The minimum fixed deposit was also raised from RM150,000 to RM1 million.
Previously at RM350,000, the minimum liquidity requirement is now RM1.5 million.
These are some of the new terms that will come into effect in October 2021 for both new applicants and existing MM2H visa holders.
The latter has one year to come into compliance.
‘Shocking, drastic, unreasonable’
In a joint statement today, the MM2H Consultants Association (MM2HCA) and Industries Unite - a coalition made up of mainly business guilds - objected to most of the new terms.
“Industries Unite and MM2HCA analysed the new terms and found the measures announced by the government recently were shocking, drastic and unacceptable,” they said.
For one, they opined that the “drastic increment” of the monthly income requirement to RM40,000 was “unacceptable”.
This was far higher than the average pension in Japan (RM5,788 a month) and the UK (RM4,492 a month).
“Our neighbouring countries offer a similar programme with much lower income requirements.
“The Thai Retirement Visa for retirees only requires a monthly income or pension of at least THB 65,000 (RM8,262),” they noted.
The two groups also disagreed with the minimum liquidity requirement (RM1.5 million), fixed deposit requirement (RM1 million) and the requirement for an extra RM50,000 in fixed deposits for each dependent.
“Honestly, a rich (and) investment-savvy applicant would not have this sum in liquid assets. Instead, their funds would have been well invested in high yielding products,” they said.
They further disagreed with the government’s move to impose “ridiculous” processing fees - RM5,000 per applicant and RM2,500 per dependent. This was previously free.
Yearly visa fees, meanwhile, have been raised from RM90 to RM500.
Under the new terms, the duration of an MM2H visa was slashed from 10 years to five years.
“This was a unique feature of the MM2H programme (and) it should be maintained at 10 years. It loses its advantage if it is only five years and foreigners have other choices,” they cautioned.
The two groups were also opposed to the rule that visa holders must remain in Malaysia for at least 90 cumulative days per year.
They contended that this requirement should be cut down to 14 cumulative days per year.
No confidence in programme