RM1m condition cools interest in new MM2H programme

Only 2% of foreigners who met the conditions expressed interest since it was reintroduced with the stricter conditions in October

by NUR HANANI AZMAN / graphic by MZUKRI MOHAMAD

MALAYSIA’S stricter conditions for its Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, that includes a deposit of RM1 million, has chilled interest from foreigners who meet the pre-conditions to join.

TEG Media, the authorised agent for the MM2H programme, said only 2% of foreigners who met the conditions expressed interest since it was reintroduced with the stricter conditions in October.

TEG Media CEO Andy Davison told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) that the company canvassed about 500 people for the programme but only 20% met the pre-conditions, and after adjusting for those willing to put up RM1 million in fixed deposit (FD), the number is well down to 2%.

“I have only one client who is willing and able to meet the new terms. The research we recently conducted showed that just over 20% of the people interested in the programme had RM40,000 a month income but nearly all of them were unable or unwilling to pay the RM1 million deposit.

Davison said previously the deposit was RM100,000 but even then, participants said that was too much having to keep the amount in FD when they have bought cars and houses.

“Recently, a person from Hong Kong told me that he had purchased an apartment for RM4.5 million in Penang in 2019 and was planning to apply for the new visa.

“He meets the income requirement but said there is no way he is putting RM1 million on deposit after paying that much especially since interest rates are low and the currency may well depreciate,” he added.

The MM2H was re-launched after being suspended for more than a year, with several changes including the RM1 million condition, as well as being handled by the Immigration Department instead of the Ministry of Tourism previously.

The new conditions have received objections from industry players who say the amount of money needed was illogical amid an economy that was still recovering from Covid-19.

New MM2H applicants must now have a minimum Malaysian FD account of RM1 million compared to RM150,000 or RM300,000 depending on age.

Davison suggested separate visas and requirements cater for those who want to retire in Malaysia, for parents of students and those who want to have a permanent home so they can vacation in Malaysia.

He said each category needs its own rules and criteria for joining.

“For example, they have said they will apply a 90-day rule to the current visa holders of the national programme (although not yet implemented). One of our clients applied for the visa while he is still working and purchased a holiday home here which he is planning to move into once he retires but he cannot currently meet the 90 days rule (obviously since he is working).

“The rule makes sense for retirees who relocate here but certainly not for genuine ‘second home’ purchasers who want to come here for vacations,” he said.

On Oct 5, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said the government has relaxed its rules for existing participants of the MM2H programme — they now have to adhere to only two of 10 new criteria under the revamped programme.

The two new conditions are the increase in the annual fee to RM500, from RM90 previously, and the requirement to stay in the country for a minimum of 90 days each year.

Hamzah gave his assurance to existing MM2H participants that they will not be bound by the other new conditions.

“However, for all new participants, they have to comply with the new requirements of the MM2H programme to ensure that only those who are genuine, of high quality and can provide a positive contribution to the country’s economic growth (are allowed to join the programme),” he said.

According to Davison, the Immigration Department is still not accepting new applications despite announcing the revised programme.

“We have heard unofficially that they will be open for new applications soon — certainly by January but no official confirmation and immigration frontliners told us they have no information,” he said.

Meanwhile, MM2H Consultants Association president Anthony Liew said they still did not receive the new guidelines from the Immigration Department.

As Sarawak is looking into categorising its MM2H programme into several distinct groups such as retirement, education, medical tourism and investment, he opined that other states should consider doing that as well.

“In my opinion, it is good to have a different package, it can suit different needs. Become a more friendly term to attract more foreigners,” he told TMR.