The government’s decision to temporarily freeze the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme until end-2020 for review and improvement has left MM2H consultants worried of its effect on the economy and the country’s image overseas.
One consultant described the move as a “disaster”, saying it will leave a lot of casualties, reported Free Malaysia Today (FMT).
“It will have a ripple effect on other industries, which will be especially bad because Malaysia is trying to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement control order,” he told FMT.
“I hope the government will change its mind.”
Established in 2002 under the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry, the programme allows foreigners to stay in Malaysia for 10 years.
Successful applicants to the programme, which stood at nearly 39,000, brought in RM40.6 billion throughout MM2H’s 18 years, most of which came from property acquisitions as well as compulsory fixed deposits in local banks.
Participants to the programme spent around RM4.4 billion in 2018 and RM4.9 billion in 2017 on property, vehicles, immigration fees and rent. Other sectors they have contributed to include education, medicine, hospitality, travel, entertainment, retail and restaurant.
Another consultant said the move will put to waste the time he spent in promoting the country to prospective participants of the MM2H programme.
He revealed that he travelled to Hong Kong nearly every weekend last year to promote the programme as well as Malaysian schools, hospitals and properties.
“This news is too sudden. We’ve been working many years to promote Malaysia very hard, and now all this progress has been cut just like that,” he said.
“How many billions will Malaysia lose? Foreigners will have a bad image of us. How are we going to answer our customers?”
He noted that neighbouring countries such as Thailand also offer similar programmes, and their “aggressive” promotional campaigns could drive potential MM2H participants away from the country.
In concurring, another consultant said the temporary freeze will not only lead to a lack of confidence in the programme but also create a bad image of the country, said the FMT report.
This comes as the MM2H consultants are not merely receiving and submitting documents, they also serve as promoters of Malaysia.
“We’ve introduced the participants to international schools for their children, to properties and to the lifestyle here,” said the consultant.
“We were so confident that Malaysia would welcome them.”