Calls grow for Malaysia to rethink plans for foreign retirees

Malaysia flag
Malaysia flag

Malaysia’s opposition has endorsed calls for the government to rethink a looming clampdown on foreigners living in the country under the popular Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) scheme.

Hannah Yeoh, a former deputy minister, said the “stringent” new rules proposed last month would spark an exodus of high-spenders and further damage an economy already hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and government curbs.

Malaysia’s border has been closed since March last year, dealing a huge blow to an economy where tourism most years generates between 5-10 per cent of gross domestic product, which fell by over 5 per cent in 2020.

“We cannot be sending the wrong message to the rest of the world during this time,” Yeoh said.

The proposed minimum monthly income requirement for MM2H is to jump four-fold from 10,000 ringgit (2,410 dollars) and must be supplemented by a 1-million-ringgit local bank deposit and 1.5 million in liquid assets.

Yeoh’s appeal came after a survey published on Thursday suggested 80 per cent of people holding the related 10-year visa or planning to avail of the scheme, which has proven popular among European retirees since its inception almost two decades ago, would be ineligible in October once the changes kick in.

Magazine Expatgo, which carried out the survey, said that the likely exodus would have negative knock-on effects on consumer spending as well as banking and housing markets.

Last week the Malaysian International Chambers of Commerce warned of “a significant outflow of funds” from the country if the government pushes ahead with the new rules.

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