KUCHING: Sarawak has approved a total of 446 applicants for the Sarawak-Malaysia My Second Home (S-MM2H) Programme in the first eight months of this year.
Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said there is a surge in the number of applications as the state has opted to its minimum requirement for applicants to place a fixed deposit of RM150,000 and a monthly income of RM7,000 for individuals as compared to the national MM2H where applicant must have a minimum savings of RM1 million and liquid assets of RM1.5 million.
“The top 10 countries since S-MM2H programme’s implementation in 2007 are United Kingdom (312 applicants), China (277), Taiwan (201), Hong Kong (193), Singapore (168), United States of America (161), South Korea (129), Australia (99), Indonesia (96), and Japan (91),” he said.
To further improve S-MM2H application processes, Abdul Karim said his Ministry had recently developed the Sarawak-Malaysia My Second Home Management and Online Application System (S-MM2H MOAS) with SAINS to facilitate the overall application process covering daily operating functions.
“The online application system took off on June 1 where submission will be processed online by MTCP and the Department of Immigration.
“Since the S-MM2H system went live, the Ministry has received a total 88 online applications as of today.
“We expect that there will be more applications received via online and we will hit our target of 1,000 S-MM2H applicants to be approved by 2023,” he said when officiating at the launch of the S-MM2H MOAS at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) on Tuesday (Aug 29).
He said the system is a tool for MTCP and the Department of Immigration to monitor the status of S-MM2H participants and generate useful statistical data for analysis and research purposes.
“Besides that, it is also used to handle operating functions, including application, submissions and application processing by officers of MTCP and Department of Immigration. For rejected applicants, they can resubmit new applications online,” he said.
He added that the Ministry would still entertain physical or over the counter applications.
“Any who wish to still apply physically, we will still entertain until such time that the system is already perfect, then probably we might just receive applications via online,” he said.
Abdul Karim also hoped that the system would reduce the time taken for approval processes and make the overall processes to become more effective and efficient.
“We are now in the early stages but I believe that once the processes have matured, all relevant parties will be satisfied with the services provided through the system.
“With the increasing popularity of this programme, there is a need to utilise the system to make the process more efficient,” he said.
When asked which countries Sarawak would not accept for the S-MM2H, Abdul Karim said there were only two countries that Malaysia does not have diplomatic relationship with namely, North Korea and Israel.
“Well, that is the government policy until such time when we are able to recognise because as it is now, even Israeli neighbours such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, they are already opening up and maybe one day, we might open up also,” he said.
When asked whether Sarawak plans to increase the minimum requirement for the S-MM2H programme, Abdul Karim responded, “We don’t want to be seen to squeeze you (applicants) out but we want them to appreciate our state and live here while they stay here buying properties here and that will be injecting into the economy.
“However, we do not want trouble makers, those who come in for vices, with money from ill-gotten gains, money laundering, that is a no no,” he said.
Meanwhile, MM2H was introduced in 1987 where the programme aims to have foreigners stay and spend time in Malaysia.
Since adopting the MM2H programme in 2007, Sarawak has approved a total of 2,190 participants to date.