The new rules for Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme annouced in August 2021 were out of touch with reality. Under the new rules, foreigners must earn an offshore income of RM40,000 every month (US$9,630 / HK$74,865) and place a fixed deposit of one million ringgit with a local bank, although half of the sum can be withdrawn to purchase a local property and pay for education expenses.
Harsh regulations? More to come, mate. For you to enjoy a full or semi retirement in Malaysia, a country famous for its relaxing lifestyle, even if you can afford to meet the much higher financial criteria of MM2H, in future you will need to worry about visa extension every five years. Previously approved for ten years at each renewal, the visa would only approve a five-year stay.
Here comes the problem. Would foreigners only consider Malaysia, if they are so rich? Wouldn’t they think about another country?
But of course, Malaysia actually has its own attractions. For foreigners from English-speaking countries, most Malaysians are able to speak English and the weather is good. Coupled with the rich multicultural environment, foreigners can enjoy good life when they relocate to Malaysia.
For foreigners, the quality of life enjoyed in Malaysia with relatively affordable prices would cost a lot more in advanced economies. For example, car park slots are included if you buy or rent an apartment. Pay the monthly management fee and use the facilities of gym room and swimming pool. Pay 100-plus ringgit and you can rent a parking slot at an office building. These perks are also available in Hong Kong—provided that you pay tens of thousand of HKD every month. And mind you, you might need to walk a long distance before taking your car.
Speaking of cheaper cost but fairly comfortable quality of life, only Thailand comes to mind. Bangkok might not be the no.1 choice, but it is worthwhile to consider Chiangmai.
What troubles English-speaking individuals is that for many years they have been living in Malaysia, the only place where they call home. They have many friends from the local English-speaking communities. But Malaysian government’s unthoughtful new MM2H rules would disrupt their plans. Not all individuals are able to relocate to a new place and have new friends fairly quickly and adapt to new lifestyle in a relaxing manner.
It is impossible to execute stringent rules and still hope for foreign capital and investment to help revive the Malaysian economy. To put it simply, no country / territory in the world is able to achieve prosperity behind closed door.
Individuals who paid attention to these new MM2H rules have warned that new criteria would push away foreigners who have once thought of relocating to Malaysia. In future, we might be driving even more foreigners away, because few would still want to reside in Malaysia even if they are able to meet the criteria.
Such warnings should serve as a reminder for the Malaysian government.