Making Malaysia 2nd Home Plan More Attractive
Property Talk: By S.C. CHEAH
The Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme has been in the news again.
This time it was for the wrong reason.
Religious enforcement officers were reported to have raided the apartment of a non-Muslim foreign couple in Langkawi. The horrified couple said they were reconsidering plans to take part in the MM2H.
The authorities must view this incident seriously as we do not want to chase away foreigners who plan to retire in Malaysia.
Recently, the media has been giving some positive coverage on the programme with interviews from satisfied participants.
The programme was also re-launched with new and better incentives (effective from April this year) such as the 10-year social visit pass and multiple-entry visa for successful applicants. After 10 years, it is guaranteed renewable provided the MM2H participants do not violate the laws and rules of this country.
They are also free to stay in Malaysia as often as they like during the 10 years.
They can also import their own car or buy a new one tax-free and they can bring in a maid to Malaysia. Their school-going children will be given student passes to further their studies at international colleges and universities.
Another benefit is that they can obtain up to 80% housing loan as compared with the normal 60% for foreign applicants. There is also no need to obtain Foreign Investment Committee (FIC) approval for purchasing properties in Malaysia.
To qualify for the MM2H programme, successful applicants, single or married, need to open a fixed deposit account of RM300,000 for those aged below 50 years and a fixed deposit of RM150,000 or show proof of monthly off-shore income of RM10,000 for those 50 years and above.
Participants are allowed to withdraw from their fixed deposit account after one year, but withdrawals must be related to house purchase, education for their children in Malaysia and medical purposes. Participants must also maintain a minimum of RM60,000 from the second year onwards and throughout their stay in Malaysia under the programme.
Each participant is allowed to purchase up to two units of residential houses at a minimum price of RM150,000 to RM350,000 and above each, depending on the location of the property (RM350,000 and above each for certain areas in Sarawak; RM250,000 and above each in Penang, Malacca and Johor; and RM150,000 and above in other states).
Some quarters have lauded the Governments pro-active move to attract more such foreign retirees to our shores. However, there are also those who feel that the fixed deposit account should be raised to US$500,000 (RM1.84mil) to ensure that the programme attracts the right target groups.
Those advocating it may do it for their own self-interest, as they may want only the rich foreigners to buy their high-end homes.
Now, allow me to give my observations.
Fact 1: Malaysia with its bountiful natural surroundings (beaches, greenery and tropical rainforest), and plenty of sunshine with no natural calamities is a very attractive place for foreign tourists. It is also an ideal place to spend ones retirement, as the cost of living is comparatively lower than in many countries.
This is not to mention our hospitable nature, good food and modern amenities, and infrastructure. We also have a wide range of good residential properties from condominiums to elegant houses within a gated and guarded community for our foreign guests to buy.
Fact 2: There are many foreigners who are seriously contemplating making Malaysia not just their second home but their permanent home, too. They are keen but unsure whom to approach and what the latest regulations are because rules keep changing.
However, is this the whole and honest picture that we are presenting to foreigners? I looked through one of the MM2H websites and it was mentioned that our crime rate was relatively low.
Fact 3: I do not think our crime rate is low. Cases of snatch thefts, robberies and what have you are becoming very rampant these days. More and more people are living in fear even in their own fortress and such homes have been burgled (as reported in a recent case in Sri Hartamas).
In order to make Malaysia an attractive place to live in, we must tackle the crime issue first. I know of Malaysians who are so fed up with being robbed that they are planning to leave this country.
Fact 4: The terrible haze that envelops us every year for the past 10 years or so is driving Malaysians up the wall. Are foreigners ready for this?
Fact 5: Why the rule on fixed deposit when thousands of illegal foreigners have set up their second homes here for free? It is understood that many of them have stayed in Malaysia for years and a few have waved their MyKad at me and assimilated into the community.
Having said that, I feel the new financial requirement is quite adequate to enable the average foreigner to afford our homes. Perhaps, extra incentives like eventually giving permanent resident status or even citizenship to high net worth individuals who bring in a higher amount under the MM2H programme.
Allow these participants to rent out their properties. After all, their Malaysian property is supposed to be their second home and it may be left vacant when they return to their first home.
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