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ssoomro Aug 21st 2020 5:59 am

Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
As we know, MM2H program in Peninsular Malaysia is on hiatus, pending review, rework etc.. I thought we pitch in and make some suggestions towards improvements... who knows .. someone from related Ministry may be eavesdropping..and can convey it to the 'review committee"..I am totally ok if he/she takes credit for it :) .. please pitch in with you ideas (remember there has to be something in it for BOTH parties (Malaysia and the potential candidate) ... here it goes:

Applicant Qualifications:

1: Increase FD requirements to MYR 500k and minimum monthly income to MYR 12K
2: No criminal record
3: Increase in application fee for principal and dependents
4: Normalize minimum housing investment to MYR 1M, across the country
5: Fix number of MM2H visas allowed per year, focus on quality candidates

Proposed Benefits:
1: MyCAD ID card and associated benefits
2: Pathway to PR/Citizenship, after first 10 yrs..after demonstrating language/civic proficiency etc
3: Bring back tax free car and import of personal belongings
4: Automatic Drivers License conversion
5: Allow access/participation in Public Health System at a higher cost than citizens

Ok .. so this is an opening salvo.. please suggest qualifications/amendments you like to see in the list. reiterate, the idea is to make MM2H an attractive and best in class program for both the host country and the potential candidates :)

RedApe Aug 21st 2020 10:07 pm

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
Those are hardly improvements. The assumption you make is that a wealthy applicant really cares about being in some sort of elite circle. That may apply to certain types of tourism where being alone on your own private beach with no caterwauling kids are in the next chalet over...but generally for a retirement program you want a bargain with benefits. I seriously doubt any multimillionaire decides not to come to Malaysia because there are too many expats on MM2H.

An increase in the FD would simply drive a wealthy person away....they can invest that $125,000 in much better yielding, fungible assets. Wealthy people tend to be wealthy because they make wise financial choices. Generally Malaysia has insisted you demonstrate liquid assets....and yet they make you put into a locked account 2.5% interest bearing account for a decade money you can only touch with their permission.

And that money really doesn't do much good for the economy as it just sits. It's better if it was spent...which means more allowable withdrawals. Now if ANY product or service acquired in or produced in Malaysia was eligible for compensation for withdrawal then its helping the local economy. Right now all the FD assists is Malaysias Foreign Currency Reserves. And it's temporary. For every person that lives the program you must replace that person to maintain the balance in the reserves.

That goes to #3 in your benefits. If a person is allowed to import a tax-free car they have purchased it abroad. So one of the withdrawals is out the window. One can still import household belongings tax free.

2) No criminal record. Presumably this is already in place. They require a Letter of Good behavior from the police in whatever locality the applicant is coming from. Of course, those local police may consider those people as suspected of trying to leave the country (especially id citizenship is offered abroad) and give them issues with getting the document.

3) More costs for principal/dependents...this will lure people away from the Malaysia My Investment Visa Program. How will this make the program more competitive?

4) Standardizing Housing Investment. Sarawak and Sabah (as most other states) will strongly oppose this. For those purchasing property it would essentially eliminate any advantage to being on the MM2H program vs. just being an expat...or foreign investment buyer. Also are you saying that there would be a requirement to make a property purchase?

5) Limiting number of Visas. This seems to me to open up the system to some degree of corruption. Whatever the criteria would be for determining quality would be subjective. Would it be educational level? Liquid assets? Awards earned in their field of specialization? Letters of recommendation from famous supporters? People (or agents) might embellish their applications or drop some "coffee money" to get moved to the top of the pile. And let's say they determine they'll give out 1200 visa a year. Would they do that all at once comparing them that all that years applicants get ranked? That mens those who apply in January might have to wait a year to get notice of approval. Those applying in December may only have to wit a month. Or you could spread them out to 100/month. But that might mean someone who ranked #120 and not make the cut in March might be better qualified than #80 in April.

And remember. If you deny (or drive away) 3000 applicants that would be submitting (today) FDs at RM300,000 (MYR 900,000,000) you must at least balance that amount with your elite group. If Only 1200 applicants are allowed the Minimum FD to balance that is RM750,000. At MYR 500K you'd lose RM300,000,000. I'm sure there is price sensitivity involved here.

Benefits: 1) MyKAD...yeah, a nice thing. Entry to Museums and Parks at Malaysian prices is a nice perk. Doesn't cost much and should have been instituted even under MM2H. It used to exist. Disappeared, though repeatedly there were statements that it would return.
2) Pathway to PR/Citizenship. This means that the person could work...Full Time. Run a business. Malaysian Malays are very xenophobic about this...and have never really encouraged naturalization. The few that do become citizens (or renew their citizenship) are required to fully renunciate their other citizenship. Many Malays still considering Chinese, Indians and Eurasians that have lineages that extend back 10 generations as "pendating" (foreigners), and feel they were only compelled to accept those groups as citizens as part of the deal to quick and peaceful Independence. This would be strongly resented by the bumiputra. And wealthy people don't really want to go through the hassle of learning Bahasa to become a citizen and give up any other citizenship. Maybe someone who is in exile?
3) Discussed above.
4) Auto DL Conversion.Not sure this is worth all the money you have to put in the FD.
5) Wealthy people would still go to Private Hospitals. This is a low- or middle-income applicants benefit. Ditto the ability to send your children to a public school.

My Suggesting is that this could be all incorporated into an Experimental High Investor Visa program that has nothing to do with MM2H. But keep MM2H. See if they get "elite applicants". If they get enough to equal the amount of money they are making from MM2H they can begin to phase the latter out.

Here are my suggestions for a better program which is almost the opposite of yours.
1) Maintain current requirements, especially the two tier system (over and under-50). Perhaps reduce the cost to single applicants (RM7500/month; FD RM100,000).
2) Establish a broader range of withdrawals for the FD...including rent, housekeepers, nannies, domestic tourism, club memberships, language lessons, taxi/Grab, meals, arts, locally made clothing, etc. Any service offered by or item produced within Malaysia. This encourages not only the Foreign Currency exchange...but also pumps RM into the local economy. Lower the floor on the FD necessary for renewal to RM20,000 (enough for repatriation).
3) No floor on property purchase. MM2H really doesn't compete with Malaysian having a higher floor you just stimulate the high end market which can bear having empty units if one person per floor purchases.
4) Require REAL Health Check for communicable diseases and illegal drugs as well as Covid test and vaccination (when developed) for Covid-19. Health check indicating a non-contagious and treatable condition should not be disqualifying provided the applicant can demonstrate they will be using treatment center or Health Tourism provider.
5) Criminal background check.
6) Allow P-T work (10 hours/week or total of 520 hrs/year) in select fields (education, speciality courses, training, lectures). MM2H originally offered this...even 20 hrs/week then that benefit disappeared.
7) Encourage local insurers to craft expat health care plans that really fit the needs of MM2H holders.
8) Automatic DL Conversion...also once existed. Last year it became complicated.

ssoomro Aug 22nd 2020 7:30 am

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
Hi RedApe...
Thank you for your detailed response.. I am rather surprised at such a little response to this thread, This was meant to germinate discussion around qualifications and the time when MM2H program is being reviewed .. .. kindda what will work and whats your wish list.. my suggestions were simply there to 'seed' the discussion.

When updating the list of 'Requirements', i had a eye on addressing the ongoing (call it xenophobic, or misguided nationalistic) concern around value of "MM2H to Malaysia", Govt can justify MM2H to public based on "higher value it brings to the country' and by weeding out "undesirables at the lower end of the scale" it will be (IMHO) more salable to Malay population in general. I totally agree with rich ppl not wanting to lock up their money in FD, but frankly MYR 500k is NOT a lot of money, and if allowed to draw on it as generously as you mentioned (really like the idea of allowing FD withdrawal for local products and services), putting up MYR500k upfront is a moot point (for the rich).

Once again as I mentioned, i like to make is desirable to BOTH parties .. most of your (excellent) suggestions are focused on the benefits side, what do you think can be done on the requirements side to improve the program' reputation in the eyes of the locals etc.

the idea of MyCAD/access to local healthcare system is based on my notion of fairness.. if after jumping through hoops and qualifying for 10 yrs residence in the country , MM2Hers are still subject to double pricing and treatment no better than a tourist, it does not make one feel at home (the word HOME is included in the MM2H :wink_smile:) ..... I do however NOT agree to no floor for property purchase (once again i am trying to balance between what will be favored by locals and what will be good for expats) .. frankly (at least at the time when i applied for it) IMHO, MM2H is a better retirement deal compared to anything else in SEA.. one cannot make plans around a 1 year renewal visa .. that most of the countries around are offering .. coupled with better social conditions, infrastructure etc (again compared to most of SEA (except Singapore) ..) Malaysia is a much better place to live ..

Similarly the idea of pathway to PR/Citizenship is intended to give ppl some level of equity.. if after 10 yrs .. you wish to apply for PR, you current system, you have no equity .. that does not mean MY is on the hook to grant you PR .. it simply means you meet a general qualification for it etc..

once again thanks a bundle for your comments.. hope other old timers here will be interested in commenting and making their ideas known.

ssoomro Aug 22nd 2020 8:09 am

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
a couple more comments,

The idea of limiting the number of MM2H issued per user is another way to reduce the concern (however unfounded) that country is going to be overrun by foreigners. Again the increase in fees/FD suggestions were in the same vain. the guiding principle being make MM2H accpetable/attractive to both Malaysian public and foreigners alike.

Thanks again for very good commentary.

RedApe Aug 22nd 2020 1:03 pm

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
One problem that I've seen with MM2H is the use of the program as a political whipping boy despite the fact that there being virtually no evidence that people on MM2H at prone to establishing criminal enterprises, or taking housing or jobs away from average Malaysians, or trying to become citizens. Part of that was perhaps fulminated by corrupt agents telling Chinese applicants that the program was a pathway to Citizenship (it wasn't) and using the program to promote a large semi-autonomous ethnically separatist housing program in Johor (Forest City).

I think there is just as much risk, if not more, for some criminal kingpin using the program if you make the price higher. They can get the necessary criminal backgrounds cleared, obtain approvals, etc. more easily than some mensch. The number of people on MM2H is minimal compared to foreigners arriving on other visas...especially tourist visas, and doing visa runs. But suggesting you are fixing a non-existent issue it only perpetrates and substantiates the myth. The general view of Malays us that "We would jump at the opportunity to live in Europe, America, or Australia...why would you want to move HERE? You must be on the lam from the police or up to no good (crook or CIA agent)."

As I pointed out...if you put a cap on applicants, or introduce higher fees and FD, or a "better applicant" system to make it "elite" then you have to increase the amount of money well beyond the RM500K you suggest. It'd be RM750K to break even if you select only the Top 25% of the current number of recipients. You might even lose more than that...even some folks that might have the money but don't want to pull money from their investments making 5-7% interest to get enough to put it into a FD at 2.5%. If you reduce the recipient numbers by 80% then you may have increase the FD to RM1 million. Now with the expanded withdrawals that might make it worthwhile it they can use all the withdrawal to purchase property. That sounds almost like the old "Buy a Million Ringgit House" get a Visa Program that they used to have. But how many people applied for that? I think vastly fewer than MM2H.

Also at some point Malaysia might start denying renewals of all that "dead wood" (i.e. folks like me) so as to open up more space for the wealthy elites.

You are correct, the 10 year visa gives more confidence and is less of a hassle (for everyone) than the 1 year renewable programs that surrounding countries have. I think the only folks that don't like it is immigration/security because they like to review what a foreigner But if they pick up on the opportunity that is offered (e.g Sri Lanka is certainly considering the value of targeted long-term "tourism" in the Coronavirus crisis) then Peninsular Malaysia will have priced itself out. That might be great for Sarawak, Sabah, or Indonesia, Taiwan or Thailand.

Personally I don't feel its my responsibility to make suggestions that play into Malaysians incorrect views about the current MM2H program.

meched55 Aug 22nd 2020 2:28 pm

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
Good read so far I'd like to make some comments, but those have already been voiced by RA.

OriginalSunshine Aug 23rd 2020 6:54 am

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
What would make the program worthwhile would be a lifetime visa (subject to usual don’t be an arse criteria). What’s the point in buying somewhere to live for less than 10 years? Plus if it’s a home, let the homeowner live there. Too many folks deciding not to pursue after being locked out from their home, pets, schooling for kids etc.

meched55 Aug 23rd 2020 12:50 pm

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
Now that’s a reL
good idea life time
visa or change it from 10 to 20 years at least.
then I wouldn’t mind buying a house there.

no locking out mm2h people for pandemics or other foreseen wars or such.

ssoomro Aug 24th 2020 6:26 am

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
RA.. your comment "problem that I've seen with MM2H is the use of the program as a political whipping boy" ...IS the reason to upgrade the requirements side of the equation. To take away the objections from the Malays point of view against the program.. there is (naturally) a lot more emphasis here (from an applicant/participant POV) on the benefits side of the equation .. but if the program has to survive/thrive .. we need to make sure something is done to reduce the real/perceived objections from the locals side .. to assure them of 'greater value to the MY" ... some ppl will never be satisfied short of scrapping the program.. but other can be reasoned with .. with some concessions

In response to "Lifetime Visa", unfortunately, it will NOT help with the Malay argument about MM2H as a vehicle for foreigners to sneak into MY (while NOT paying taxes .. etc etc ) .. IMHO, the idea of a pathway to PR...etc seems like better middle ground .. I dont think it should be automatic PR .. but allowed to apply for it (and if you have shown commitment, bought a house/learned language/done some volunteer work /got local endorsements etc) .. you can get it .. it is ALWAYS SUBJECTIVE is MM2H, even if you qualify .. there is NO GUARENTEE they will approve your application for MM2H (capitalization for emphasis only) ..or make is a objective + subjective (say a point system.. you get PR if you get more than 70 Point .. 30 points for buying a house ..20 points for maintaining insurance ...etc etc .. with a 20-30 points subjective allowance) .. just thinking out loud ..

I also think (in the interest of most of us here) ,,,the new requirements should not be imposed on past members .. they should be renewed based on the criterion set at the time of their application approval.. unless they volunteer .. say to get access to better benefits

finally, totally agree that its NOT our responsibility to placate Malay public opinion regarding the program.. (although it is in some ways .. how we behave when we live there etc etc) .. this discussion is simply mean to solicit ideas .. and better understand what MMHers think about the future direction of the program.. who knows .. someone from the agent/govt side may read the topic and help us get the idea back to ppl who matter (wishful thinking :) )

StillSearching Aug 24th 2020 11:00 am

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits

Originally Posted by ssoomro (Post 12900379)
The idea of limiting the number of MM2H issued per user is another way to reduce the concern (however unfounded) that country is going to be overrun by foreigners.

It is a very nationalistic idea to keep foreigners out as much as possible. What benefit does it bring to a country?
Paying higher fees for living here? It is Malaysia. I think the current price is just right. If it was higher, I would consider other options.

StillSearching Aug 24th 2020 11:14 am

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits

Originally Posted by OriginalSunshine (Post 12900801)
What would make the program worthwhile would be a lifetime visa (subject to usual don’t be an arse criteria). What’s the point in buying somewhere to live for less than 10 years? Plus if it’s a home, let the homeowner live there. Too many folks deciding not to pursue after being locked out from their home, pets, schooling for kids etc.

All true.
Regarding buying a home here-
rental cost is very low here compare to property prices. Just don't buy. Move from one newly build to the next one you like. Why tie your money up in something which is so uncertain. Selling a property here takes long time.

RedApe Aug 24th 2020 2:25 pm

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
"your comment "problem that I've seen with MM2H is the use of the program as a political whipping boy" ...IS the reason to upgrade the requirements side of the equation. To take away the objections from the Malays point of view against the program..."

Okay...if you wanted to remove the objections to the program by Malays (not all...but the ones that use it to misinform people) here's what you would want to do...
1) One year visa - this eliminates any argument they have that people are planning to stay long term in know colonise it.
2) No citizenship or, no. no. no. no Even if they are clever enough to learn Malay and th operations of the government. That makes them even MORE dangerous.
3) Limited number of renewals...maybe 4 maximum...after all it is a "Second Home" Program...not Malaysia "Your only home" program. That also will mean that people who apply will likely be wealthy enough to maintain a home in their native country as well as in Malaysia. Elites, not rabble.
4) Increase the FD to $1 million, minimum income to MYR 20,000/month. Famous movie stars (Jackie Chan, Steven Seagal, Gina Lollobrigida) and celebrities are okay...great for photo ops with politicians showing how tolerant they are...but not common workers. Oh and as long as the celebs don't get involved in animal rights, environmental, human rights issues. Also those in quiet exile with lots of cash (Kim Jong-nam, certain Saudi princes). No sexy young musical stars that perform in various states of décolletage or midriff exposure...that's an offense to culture.
5) Allow 75% of the FD to be put into real estate purchase built or being sold by bumiputra contractors and real estate companies....but don't mention that the house will depreciate and will be unavailable to live in after 4 years. Home will go into a special "fire-sale" fund if abandoned and unoccupied after 2 years. First notified of the restricted public offering are government officials.
5) Allow investment but only if the have a member of UMNO or PAS as the principal partner with 51% voting power with little or no actual investment. It's amazing how fast objections disappear with a little greasing of the wheels.

Now THATS a program that the Malay politicians would likely be clamoring for.

It would, on the surface appear to provide direct benefit for Malaysians in the ruling party, not all this talk of indirect benefits to the Malaysian populace and small scale business community. Who knows where that sort of benefit gets paid to...maybe even some voters that support the opposition.

Or an about educating the pols that there concerns are actually illusory (generally) and that the idea that you get a morally superior applicant by focusing on the wealthy is simply ridiculous. People in high positions are also prone to embezzlement, bribes, making bribes, running high end on-line gambling and bitcoin mining operations (one was just busted in Sarawak that were running 40 computers and several severs using hijacked electrical power).

ssoomro Aug 25th 2020 4:32 am

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
Well RA.. you have a career as Political Satirist waiting for you :thumb:.

All good point and generally all of us with some experience in MY agree. But most of us .. with some mileage in the so called "developing" world learn to accept the ground realities and adapt a 'pragmatic' approach as the old saying in my mother tongue goes.. "you want to be able to kill the snake without breaking the stick" .... also called. "the art of stealing the eggs from under the hen, without her objecting to it" .. :p

I am in COMPLETE agreement that MM2H is maligned by opportunistic pols and their pals to score cheap points with bumiputra.. kicking the disenfranchised has been modus operandi of the spineless pols ... all over the world.. so why take that away from our Malay friends :hysterical:

@StillSearching... before I applied for my MM2H, i did quite a bit of research ..and came to conclusion that Malaysia and MM2H has substantial advantage over the programs being offered in the region (some of the central/latin american countries offer much better overall retirement plans ..such as Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica etc) .. Malaysia pros generally outweigh most of its cons .. here are some .. (of course from own subjective POV):
- Climate and natural disasters .. Tropical climate and general lack of natural disaster proneness was a big draw.. most of us from frozen climes prefer to live out the retirement years somewhere warm and sunny most of the year (so places like Taiwan/korea/Japan etc were not an option for me)
- Natural beauty and accessibility -- Malaysia is a beautiful country with tons of geographical diversity and easy to access outdoor explore and indulge in .. fairly safely
- Cost of living -- Overall the cost of living is very reasonable, if seen in exchange of quality ... in terms of safety/infrastructure/food/housing etc etc.. even a modest western pension/savings can afford you a decent quality of life .. without sacrificing the exotic
- Social aspects... I find Malay to be friendly ..albeit a bit distant .. English is spoken almost universally, even Bahasa Malayu can qualify as one of the easiest language to learn .. lifestyle crime is not rampant in your face .. I dont generally feel unease and sense of danger as you do in places in Indonesia/Philippines or even Thailand ..and there is almost NO language barrier as in most of the other ASEAN countries ..
- lack of restrictions -- except for the FD, there didnt seem to be much of a demand from me, no requirement for spend time here, 10 yrs is soooo generous comparatively, if i am retiring, i dont really care to work or indulge in local politics .. have a lot of other plans ahead of those.. MM2H dont seem to impose too many demands of you. Although Covid-19 did expose the lack of stake of MM2H holders.. not being able to return to their homes etc.. but overall the program is more on the generous side
Convenience - MY is smack in the middle of ASEAN region .. allowing me to explore south asia within one hr or less flight in most cases .. and at really low cost ..

so yes.. IMHO on the balance .. i believe MM2H is a great deal ..comparatively ...and subjectively :thumbup:

WiredTight Aug 25th 2020 12:05 pm

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
I'm a bit late on the this... but here's my take:
The government's "to make it better for everyone" is a bit thin. Especially with all the lost funding that this pandemic is causing...They should come out and just say it...This is about money/taxes with a small dose of "Malays for Malaysia" (Dr M's fumble or miss-quote on the JB Forest City/China City definitely show's where the Malays politicians stand on MM2H). MM2H already has the best Retiree VISA in this part of the world, not much incentive to make it BETTER for foreigners. The middle class Asians, including the next wave for South Asians (India) means a steady supply of new applicants.
I think the first item on the agenda, is the closing of the loop hole between Peninsula Malaysia and Sarawak. Too much Peninsula Tax money being lost. Close the Sarawak program but keep the 5 year option and move it into a new program.
So here my thought... A two tier program. A 5 year VISA and a 10 year VISA.
5 year: Basically a Thailand setup. Smaller FD and income requirement, and no other perks. Yearly renewal tax.
10 year: 20% increase in FD and income requirements, more options for FD withdrawls, no tourist/hotel tax, etc.... After 5 - 10 years of physically being in Malaysia (some type of immigration counter) you are then offered a semi-PR visa option if you've been good.
The two tier option is a long shot. Most likely the New program will double one time application fee's, Remove the Tax-free FD perk, and some type of once a year Health / Security checkup requirement (Tax). This is all about $$$$.
Most importantly, the Malaysian government will wait until Thailand and other countries in the area announce their changes, and then "one up them" to lure away investment/tax.
Anyway...that's my 2 cents/sens/centavos/baht. Have a great day.

ssoomro Aug 26th 2020 3:42 am

Re: Improving MM2H...New Qualifications and Benefits
Hi WiredTight.. No you are not late (We havent passed our recommendations to Malay govt yet ....kidding :rofl:)

Interesting idea about a 2 (Two) Tiered Visa system.. something to chew on ..

Surge in Indian applicants will not sit well with Malays either .. similar to Chinese applicants.. i think (sorry for race undertones) .. MM2H was targeted at "wealthier European/Americans" .. Indians surge will cause fear of ethnic imbalance ..again

Finally the statement about MM2H being the "best retirement visa in the world" is debatable ... There are some amazing incentives offered by places like Ecuador (like subsidized health care, even discounted transport (train/planes etc) ) and long term visa + equity .. (getting PR/dual citizenship if desired) .

I do agree.. MM2H is hands down the best offer regionally. and considering MY offers a pretty good place to live .. definitely desirable.

Your point about MY will wait to see how the other regional participant revise their offerings in the wake of Covid and come up with something slightly better...makes good sense :)

Thanks again for your contribution..

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