Keeping expats happy in Malaysia

Easing the existing 'Malaysia My Second Home' conditions is the right move as the current stringent requirements have led the country to lose out on half of its potential customer base, say agents of the programme.


File photo of Kuala Lumpur. PHOTO: THE STAR

October 23, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR – Easing the existing Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) conditions is the right move as the current stringent requirements have led the country to lose out on half of its potential customer base, say agents of the programme.

MM2H Consultants Association president Anthony Liew said the requirements imposed since 2021 such as having an offshore income of at least RM40,000 a month and the increase in minimum age for the principal applicant from 21 to 35 should be removed.

“These requirements have pushed away half of our potential clients,” he said when contacted yesterday.

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Liew said Malaysia has lost out on the retiree market as these people, who, despite having the means and assets, can’t qualify for the MM2H programme because they do not have an active income.

“They might invest in the share market and get their profits but not a monthly income so they can’t apply for it. 

“Other professionals with high income such as consultants, who may make RM25,000 a month, are also out of the equation,” he said.

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Liew hopes that the new MM2H conditions, set to be announced by the government, could be adjusted to include different categories of monthly income, including for retirees.

He also hopes to see a change in the age limitation.

“There are many youngsters who are financially capable but because the age requirement is 35 and above, they are not eligible,” he added.

Another condition that Liew wants to see changed is the rule for participants to spend at least 90 days a year in Malaysia.

“Hopefully, it can be adjusted or allowed to be combined with the number of days their dependants spend in the country.

“Even if the minimum is brought down to 30 or 40 days, I believe they will still spend money here,” he said.

Liew said the requirement for applicants to have a minimum RM1mil in a Malaysian fixed deposit (FD) account should also be changed.

“Most wealthy people have the money but they use it to invest in many other places. We hope this rule can be relaxed,” he said.

Since its inception in 2002, the MM2H programme has been well received but applications plunged after the conditions were tightened two years ago.

Liew, quoting Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, who said a total of 1,905 of the 2,164, or 88%, applications for MM2H were approved between November 2021 and last month, noted that it was unclear whether the figure was for principal applicants only or included their dependants as well.

“If the 1,905 figure includes all the family members, that means the number of applications is very low,” Liew said.

In August 2021, the government announced 10 new conditions for those interested in the MM2H programme, including having RM1.5mil worth of liquid assets, RM40,000 monthly offshore income – up from RM10,000 previously – RM1mil in a Malaysian FD account, and an additional RM50,000 per dependant.

Previously, they only needed to have savings of between RM300,000 and RM500,000.

They must also spend 90 days in Malaysia while the minimum age was raised from 21 to 35.

The Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia welcomed the move to ease existing conditions of MM2H applications, as set out under Budget 2024 presented on Oct 13.

Its president Datuk NK Tong said the association hopes to be included in the discussions pertaining to MM2H.

He, however, said the plan to introduce a 4% flat rate for the stamp duty on the memorandum of transfer on purchases by foreign individuals and companies could have a negative impact on MM2H.

“Although foreign ownership in Malaysia is negligible, this may discourage home ownership and MM2H for those looking into migrating to Malaysia in the future,” he said.

MIDF Research, in its report on Oct 16, said the property sector is expected to benefit from the MM2H move.

It said the 4% flat rate stamp duty by non-citizens and foreign-owned companies may be offset by the positives of the easing of rules and new infrastructure projects such as the light rail transit line three (LRT 3) and Penang LRT, which will support demand for properties in the Klang Valley and Penang.

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