The rejection of 90% of Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MM2H) applications has caused a loss of RM776 million for the country, the programme’s agents said today.
Malaysia My Second Home Consultants Association (MM2HCA) president Lim Kok Sai said more than 1,000 applications submitted between September to November last year were rejected without reason.
“The more than 1,000 rejected applications means an estimated loss of RM776 million in business,” he said at a press conference today.
Lim also said the rejection rate used to be 10% and were due to the applicants’ financial status and security clearance issues.
He said agents under MM2HCA are in a limbo as they have to return fees to applicants following the rejection.
“We will try to appeal first, and we will also try to resubmit the application. Worse comes to worst, we have to return the money.
“But it is hard as the agents have already spent some of the money, especially during the movement-control order (MCO). They have salaries to pay.”
The agency is also trying to meet with government officials to discuss the problem.
“We are not blaming anybody, we just want to find a solution. We are in a difficult position, we do not want to retrench people. It’s difficult to find jobs now,” Lim said, adding that agencies had to cut corners.
Meanwhile, Putrajaya’s freezing of all applications for MM2H, is leaving agents and applicants in a bind.
This was revealed in a letter dated June 29 by the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) about the closure of the MM2H centre based at its ministry and its move to the Immigration Department in Putrajaya.
Lim said that agents are in the dark over the reason for the move and confused over the sudden decision to stop new applications.
The suspension on new applications follows the rejection of 90% of applications submitted last year, for September, October and November, without any reason.
The rejection rate is the highest ever for MM2H visa applicants in the last 14 years. The programme allows foreign retirees to own homes and live in Malaysia and had earned RM40 billion since its inception in 2002.
Since the start of the MCO in mid-March, Putrajaya has closed all its borders to foreign travel except for limited categories.
MM2H visa holders were denied entry into Malaysia, causing some 200 visa holders to be stranded abroad.
Lim said he had heard of several cases but most of them have been resolved, especially with the guidelines the government has introduced.
“Now I think it should not be a problem because they have been given clear guidelines. Once given approval, they must do a swab test within 14 days and then proceed to buy tickets to return here,” he said.
The majority of MM2H applicants are Chinese, followed by Japan, Bangladesh, the United Kingdom and South Korea.
Meanwhile, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Nancy Shukri said today that the MM2H programme has been suspended to review its application process.
The review is being done by the ministry and the Immigration Department and is to be completed by December.
She said the ministry “discovered that there is a lot to do to improve the MM2H programme”.
“It’s not a permanent (freeze) as some people think. It is not meant to be (permanent).
“The Immigration Department is re-looking their process and at the same time, Motac is involved in a study on improvements to the processes,” she told reporters this afternoon.
Nancy said the freeze would not be long due to the MM2H programme’s importance to the economy.
The freeze, however, does not apply to Sarawak.
Though Sarawak tailored its MM2H programme to mirror the national programme, the state’s autonomy over immigration and a different set of land laws means it can decide its own policies.
State Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Abdul Karim Hamzah said the National Land Code does not apply in the state and on the foreign retirees when they buy properties.
Karim said at the last state cabinet meeting, the state government had approved 224 applications.