My Second Home programme sees 43,466 applications approved

The approvals comprised of applications received from 131 countries, mainly from Chinese citizens

Pic By BERNAMA

MALAYSIA My Second Home (MM2H), the government’s initiative to attract foreigners to live in the country, has drawn 43,466 applications since its launch in 2002 to November 2018.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi said the approvals comprised of applications received from 131 countries, mainly from Chinese citizens.

Mohamaddin said this in a recent written reply to Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin (Barisan Nasional-Padang Besar) who asked the minister to state the number of applications approved for the MM2H programme and the number of applicants based on their nationalities.

Applicants from China dominated with 13,892 approvals over the period, followed by Japan (4,882), Bangladesh (4,187), the UK (2,729), Korea (2,568), Singapore (1,492), Taiwan (1,428), Iran (1,411), Hong Kong (1,087) and India (1,077), forming the top 10 list.

Reuters had previously reported an increase in interest in the MM2H programme from Hong Kong residents due to ongoing anti-Beijing demonstrations in the region. The report said MM2H had attracted 251 applications from Hong Kong in 2019 against the 193 approved in 2018.

Citing an official from the ministry, it said the programme has received some 3,500 applications in total as at Aug 20 this year, compared to 6,279 last year. However, none of this year’s applications had been approved.

Successful entrants to the MM2H programme are given a social visit pass and a multiple entry 10-year visa which can be renewed.

Concerns of an overflow of foreign ownership on housing in Malaysia were piqued after Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced in the 2020 state budget of plans to lower the price threshold for foreign purchase from RM1 million to RM600,000.

The move, he said, was to reduce supply overhang of condominium and apartments which had amounted to RM8.3 billion in the second quarter of 2019. Analysts have since said the lower threshold might ease the overhang situation, but not resolve it.

On Wednesday, the prime minister’s economic advisor Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid said the government should allow the property market to adjust itself and not dabble the price threshold for foreigners to buy houses.

While he recognised the need to reduce the property overhang, he said the persistent mismatch between supply and demand made the government’s move appear like a bailout for developers.

Muhammed said the government should only intervene in the property market to build more affordable homes for the lower and middle-income groups.

In a written reply in Parliament last week, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said only 15% of the participants in the MM2H programme had purchased properties in the country, where the majority of the buyers are from China.

In another reply, Zuraida said foreign ownership in the Malaysian property market is still under control. She said 398 transactions from foreign buyers were recorded between January and June 2019, which accounted for only 0.4% of total sales. Malaysian buyers still made up the bulk of the transactions at 99.6% or 99,524 buyers.