Despite the recent protests in Hong Kong, Malaysia has not seen a spike in the number of applications for the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) Programme, said Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry secretary-general Datuk Isham Ishak.
He said to apply for the programme, a person needed to do a lot of planning as there are a number of considerations and processes that must be taken before applying to make Malaysia their second home.
“It is not a spontaneous matter, where you can simply apply for the programme just because you want to run away from your country.
“You need to understand why you choose Malaysia, including the suitability for yourself and add-ons (family members and maid, if any), health condition, cost of living, lifestyle and so on,” he told Bernama.
According to news reports, protests in Hong Kong first started in March this year, triggered by highly controversial legislation to extradite those convicted of crimes to mainland China and Taiwan, but have since expanded to demands for full democracy and police accountability.
In 2019, Isham said the programme had received a total of 3,500 applications from various countries including Hong Kong.
However, he was not able to state how many were from Hong Kong as it is subject to the Home Ministry’s final approval.
“For now, suffice it to say that since 2017, applications from Hong Kong have increased 20 per cent yearly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Isham said from 2002-2018, total approved applications for the programme were 43,943 from 131 countries, out of which 1,087 were from Hong Kong alone, ranking it in the ninth place among the top 10 countries participating in the programme.
China topped the ranking with 13,892 applications, followed by Japan (4,882), Bangladesh (4,187), United Kingdom (2,729) and South Korea (2,568).
In 2018 alone, the MM2H programme received 5,011 applications.
In terms of contribution to the local economy, Isham said from 2007-2018, the programme had generated a total revenue of RM18.345 billion.
“This is a cumulative value derived from various purchases such as properties, fixed deposits, medical, education and other expenditures,” he said.
Individual applications made up 24 per cent while family constituted 76 per cent of the total applications for the programme. Some 51 per cent of the applicants were 50 years old and above while the rest were below 50 years old.
Isham said the programme, introduced in 2002, originated from the ‘Silver Hair Programme’, where it was initially aimed at Japanese and United Kingdom citizens before expanding it to other countries.
Elaborating on the main reason why people are choosing Malaysia as their second home, he said it was because of the country’s good reputation and stability.
These, he said, included family relationships, cheaper cost of living, high quality of life and education, as well as good weather and diversity of people, culture and food.
Isham added the top hotspots for them to reside were Kuala Lumpur, followed by Selangor, Penang, Johor, Langkawi and Melaka.