Attracting the best to Malaysia
RETIREMENT HAVEN: Malaysia is fast becoming a home-away-from-home for many expatriates seeking a dream place to retire. With its welcoming weather, hospitable people, world-class infrastructure and delectable cuisine, little wonder foreigners are making a beeline to Malaysia.
This is what the Ministry of Tourism and Culture is mulling over in its bid to attract more quality applicants under the programme.
At present, applicants are required to have between RM150,000 and RM300,000 in fixed deposit at any local bank.
It’s minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz says there is a need to change the financial threshold to attract quality applicants.
“Malaysia has so much to offer and its biggest pull factor is its hospitable people. With that in mind, we want only the best to come here and settle down. After all, why shouldn’t we do that when many of our neighbours are asking for more?
“The RM300,000 that is imposed now is too low. What Malaysia needs to do is get the big spenders to buy properties here and spend more. There is nothing wrong in us wanting only the best in terms of tourists and long-term residents.”
Nazri stressed that Malaysia wants long-term residents who will treat the country well and not misbehave.
The MM2H programme, which was launched in 2002, enables foreigners who fulfil a certain criteria to stay in Malaysia for ten years with a multiple entry social visit pass.
The pass is renewable every ten years and applicants are allowed to bring their spouses and unmarried children below the age of 21 as dependants.
Those below 50 years old are required to open a fixed deposit account of at least RM300,000 at any bank in the country.
After one year, the participants can withdraw up to RM150,000 for approved expenses relating to house purchase, education for children in Malaysia and medical purposes.
However, a minimum balance of RM150,000 must be maintained from the second year onwards and throughout their stay in Malaysia under the programme.
Applicants above age 50 can either choose to open a fixed deposit account in Malaysia of RM150,000 or show proof of a monthly offshore pension of at least RM10,000.
To date, some 21,000 foreigners have succeeded in their applications, with some residing here on a permanent basis, while others travel frequently between their homeland and Malaysia.
On claims by some foreigners that Malaysia is not promoting itself in a big way under the MM2H programme, Nazri says he wants the programme to grow by word of mouth instead of through promotional activities.
“Let the foreigners residing here tell their family and friends about Malaysia. Those interested in the programme should visit the country first to experience all it has to offer before making a decision.
“We do not want to ‘over promise’ and under deliver. Since we want the best of the best to call Malaysia their home, it would be good for tourists of quality to see for themselves firsthand on what Malaysia is all about and what it has to offer.”
By having expatriates of standard calling Malaysia their home, Nazri says it will be easier for the authorities to manage the foreigners living here.
“That is why, we are not saying how many foreigners should move here. The more quality expatriates we get, the better it will be for our economy.”
Foreigners are attracted to settle in Malaysia because of its hospitable people, warm weather, the attractiveness of its multi-racial society, political stability and world-class infrastructure, among others.
In 2010, 1,499 foreigners have their applications to stay in Malaysia approved, followed by 2,387 in 2011, and 3,227 last year.
For this year, the ministry has approved 629 applications to date.
Malaysia is currently rated No. 10 in the world for its hospitality.
“I have been to many of the countries which rank higher than Malaysia in the hospitality rating, but they are nowhere near us when it comes to hospitality.
“In my opinion, we should be ranked No.1 because Malaysians are fabulous hosts. Moreover, tourists love to visit and stay here because English is widely spoken,” said Nazri.Author : Shanti Gunaratnam Source : News Straits Time