Chief Editor Jan Yong weighs in on the MM2H debacle in an Opinion piece.
The new criteria imposed for Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme, effective since October 2021, has drawn a massive backlash from the industry and foreigners due to its significantly more onerous requirements. In particular, opponents have cited the increased financial threshold which they believe would deter many would-be applicants – an offshore income of RM40,000 per month compared to the current RM10,000; and a Fixed Deposit of RM1 mil instead of the current RM150,000 for over 50’s and RM300,000 for under 50’s.
Furthermore, applicants must show proof that they have liquid assets of RM1.5 mil, compared with RM350K for over 50’s and RM500K for under 50’s previously.
The new criteria however are only applicable to new applicants who have yet to be approved. Existing MM2H participants are exempted from all except two of the requirements i.e. a 90-day per year requirement to stay in the country; and an increase in annual fee to RM500, from RM90 previously.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) has cited national security as the main reason for the change and mentioned further that the country needs “genuine, high quality foreigners who ca n contribute positively to the country’s economic growth” instead of those who come here “for undesirable activities”.
It would help if the government can give an idea of the percentage of participants who have been found guilty of criminal activities. And whether these convicted felons’ passes have been revoked.
The Auditor-General’s Report 2019 Series 2, which was tabled at the Dewan Rakyat on Sept 28, has also cited the absence of a letter of good conduct (LOGC) verifying that the applicant’s dependants are free from criminal misconduct.
This document, variously known as Police Clearance Certificate or Certificate of Good Character, is a common requirement for immigration visas in many other jurisdictions. It can be easily obtained either from the applicant’s home country’s police authorities or their Home Ministry. This will ensure the long stay pass holders and their dependants have sufficient clearance in terms of their character i.e. no criminal record.
Technically, the MM2H programme is not an immigration visa but a long-stay pass. But it is similar in many respects to an immigration visa. Hence, to get the Immigration Department to process the application instead of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC) is the right move.
The former would be the best people to weed out undesirable applicants as they already have the expertise to do so. For example, if there is reason to suspect that the Police Clearance Certificate is forged or is illegally obtained, the Immigration Department will be able to verify its authenticity through its usual channels.
And if any ‘criminals’ were to slip past the new vigorous checks, then it is a risk that’s similar to the risk that any country takes when admitting foreign travellers.