The more stringent Malaysia My Second Home program (MM2H) guidelines certainly look like persecution of innocent Westerners. After injecting nearly 13 billion Ringgit (some US$3 billion) into the local economy since its inception in 2002, the MM2H seems to be a glowing economic success. At first glance, one could conclude the Malaysian government is just being ungrateful and greedy for abruptly revising the program.
However, to put things in perspective, the GDP of Malaysia in 2019 was about 1.5 trillion Ringgit. Therefore, if the MM2H program only brought in 13 billion Ringgit over 18 years, it has not been a significant contributor to the Malaysian economy. As a result, painting it as such is not a wise method of persuasion.
To make their case for easier MM2H terms, expats need to bring additional positive contributions to Malaysia – besides money.
So what positive aspects do these expats bring to the country? The answer is; not many. In fact, what is seen on the ground in Malaysia illuminates what is very often cultural and – on occasion – criminal depravity.
The Clash of Cultural “Values”
To be clear, Malaysia is multicultural with each ethnicity strongly adhering to its cultural roots. The three cultures known as the “cultural triangle” in Malaysia are the native Malay (or Bhumiputra) plus the Chinese and Indians.
Nationwide, the indigenous Malay form the political majority. Therefore, the national religion of Malaysia is Islam and along with Islam comes Islamic values. On the other hand, the Chinese adhere to a mix of Buddhism, Chinese deities, and ancestral veneration, while many Indians stick to their Hindu roots.
This disparate cultural mix is a legacy of British colonialism. In this regard, it is a forced marriage. As a result, Malaysia is no stranger to cultural diversity or the social turmoil that it sometimes brings.
Nonetheless, these disparate cultural groups see eye-to-eye regarding virtues such as family unity and marital fidelity. Additionally, they equally share a disdain for intoxication, homosexuality, fornication, and Western hypocrisy in general.
Unfortunately, Western expats have crossed the line a few times too many. This can be observed publicly, day-to-day in local communities. Additionally, we might add vaccine hoarding by Western countries to the list and it is the widely accepted view here.
More egregious, however, are outright criminal activities that have made front-page news nationwide on multiple occasions. What some miscreants are doing in Malaysia would have been considered outright criminal even in their home countries.
Nude Dancing at the Formula One Races
One of my most poignant memories is an incident from 2016 that occurred at the conclusion of the Formula One races in Sepang, located just outside the national capital Kuala Lumpur, in which nine intoxicated Australians stripped down to their underwear.
50,000 people were in the stands and the drunken Australians were also dancing in front of Malaysian TV cameras, which aired the spectacle nationwide.
Photos and videos of them drinking beer from their shoes proliferated on social media. Seemingly, it could not get any worse. However, their underwear was conspicuously emblazoned with Malaysian national flags!
They were promptly arrested for public indecency and provocation. The Australian embassy, as a consequence, made stringent diplomatic efforts to arrange for special treatment of the transgressors. As the case moved through the court system, images of the Australians would continue to appear in the local newspapers, severely degrading the image of all expats in Malaysia.
In the end, they were given special treatment and escaped the just punishment that would have otherwise been administered.
Naked Dutch Model Found Dead in Kuala Lumpur
In December 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, a naked 18-year-old Dutch model was found dead after falling from a 20th-floor condominium unit and landing on a sixth-floor balcony below.
What caused her to fall off the 20th floor? Evidence indicates she had consumed large quantities of drugs and alcohol and had just finished having group sex with an American-Kazakh couple living on the 20th floor unit.
After initially dismissing foul play, the coroner conceded there was likely a struggle before she fell. Prosecutors eventually appealed to the high court in Malaysia and, which ruled that “persons known or unknown” were involved.
As a result, the case was re-classified as murder and the investigation reopened. The expat couple living in the 20th-floor unit have already fled the country.
British Homicide Committed in Langkawi, Malaysia
Located off the Northwest coastline in Malaysia, Langkawi Island is known as the “Jewel of Kedah”. Kedah State is a privileged location in Malaysia because it is the home state of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is the longest-serving prime minister in Malaysia. Dr Mahathir is also well known internationally as an outspoken critic of colonialism.
Over many years, Langkawi was the pet project of the former prime minister and benefited heavily from special infrastructural development and publicity he directed there. As a result, Langkawi Island became a very popular tourist destination.
On October 17, 2018, after spending the day drinking at Langkawi’s popular Cenang Beach, the heavily inebriated British couple engaged in a heated argument. The end result was the stabbing death of British expat John Jones by his wife Samantha.
This event has also shed an uncomfortable light on the alcohol-saturated and sometimes rudderless lifestyles of the middle-aged expatriates who flock to Malaysia under the MM2H program.
The gruesome murder committed by an MM2H pass-holder would not have gone unnoticed by the former prime minister. It was indeed during his resurgent term as PM in 2019 that the rejection rate for MM2H applications mysteriously increased ninefold and was then suspended for the second time eight months later.
In Britain, a daily visit to the pub is the national pastime and also considered your patriotic duty according to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Not so in Malaysia, and for good reason.
Trouble in Paradise
The British Colonial Legacy in Malaysia has had a bitter aftereffect on Malaysian politics. Moreover, the criminal behavior of the expats outlined above has brought the national spotlight onto all Western expats residing in the country. As a result, seemingly innocuous expat habits such as walking around without a mask or letting your kids skateboard through a crowded market can quickly add up.
The plain fact of the matter is that Malaysians – and especially the indigenous Malay majority – do not take kindly to foreigners telling them who is or is not a resident of Malaysia. Therefore, if you leave the country during a global pandemic, you shouldn’t be surprised when they close the border behind you. If you got locked out, you only have yourself to blame.
To clarify, the MM2H provides a social visit pass and “it can be revoked at any time, for any reason”. This is distinct from Malaysian residency and it is made abundantly clear during the MM2H application procedures.
However, MM2H pass-holders have some notable privileges. This includes the right to live in Malaysia continuously during the term of the visa (recently shortened to five years from the previous ten). MM2H grants special privileges such as acquiring a Malaysian driver’s license, access to local banking, investment accounts, real estate ownership, and income tax exemptions, to mention some.
On the other hand, becoming a legal resident of Malaysia is a very stringent process requiring a minimum of 10 years living in the country, fluency in Bahasa Malaysia, investment, and more. Plus, as a resident in Malaysia, you pay income tax here.
As for citizenship? You can only obtain citizenship by birth. Foreigners have no chance of obtaining Malaysian citizenship.
Moral Advantages of Living in Malaysia
Moral relativity has become well entrenched in Western countries such as the United States. “Rich” people, furthermore, are widely considered immoral only because they have money. At the same time, abortion, sodomy, profligacy, neocolonialism, social unrest, and drug legalization are considered the new “morality”.
Even with more sensible liberal initiatives such as fighting climate change, the responsibility is solely on the immoral rich to pay for it. The rich must also fund social programs, middle-class bailouts, and federally subsidized healthcare ad infinitum. In the US, this includes subsidizing abortion and transgender “reassignment”.
There is no escape but to escape. If you want to control where your tax dollars are spent, you only have one option – leave.
Malaysia remains the destination of choice for morally conscious high net worth individuals. Malaysia also offers fair and equitable visa-free access for the Caribbean CIP countries. Also of note is that no Caribbean countries are on Malaysia’s banned entry list.
Of no less significance is that citizens of the five Caribbean CIP countries can live in Malaysia under the MM2H program and be free from all global income tax obligations.
Additionally, Malaysia is a socially conservative country where you can easily become disconnected from undesirable activities. As a result, you can live a morally conscious lifestyle without being ostracized and persecuted.
In Conclusion, Lets Hope for the Best
For many years the MM2H program offered the best residency program in the world. Unfortunately, the qualification requirements were perhaps too accommodative. Nonetheless, the more stringent MM2H qualifications could bring a welcome change for new and existing MM2H pass holders.
Sharply increasing the income and net worth requirements would certainly be effective in increasing applicant quality. Additionally, more stringent due diligence may be warranted.
Perhaps a halfway point between the old program and the new guidelines would suffice? This would move the income requirement more in line with the actual cost of living in Malaysia. At the same time, it will sharply increase the applicant quality.
Over time, I am confident the Malaysian government will reach a fair compromise for all stakeholders. This will provide Malaysia with economic benefits and also socially acceptable new members of the local community.
We are hopeful for more favorable terms that can improve the program for everyone involved. Either way, I am sincerely grateful for the opportunities that the MM2H has offered over the years. Thank you, Malaysia, for your kind consideration.
I am a CBI specialist working with the Caribbean countries, plus Vanuatu. Additionally, I hold Dominica citizenship through the CBI program and I am a real-life Global Citizen. My interests include international investment, philanthropy, and global travel.