KUCHING (Sept 4): The Sarawak Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture is introducing new enhancements to the regulations and requirements for the Sarawak-Malaysia My Second Home (S-MM2H) programme, effective Sept 1 this year.
Its Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said his ministry had obtained the approval from the state cabinet on June 18 for the S-MM2H’s newly revised requirements and regulations.
“As we are expecting more foreigners to visit Sarawak and make Sarawak their second home, the number of MM2H applicants are expected to increase dramatically based on the historical trend of S-MM2H statistics,” he said during a press conference held at Baitumakmur Building II, Petra Jaya here today.
Abdu Karim told reporters that there were 1,240 participants in the S-MM2H programme for the past 13 years from 2007 to 2019 – in which 226 successful applicants were reported in 2019, compared to 103 in the previous year.
He said a series of coordination meetings had been conducted between his ministry and government agencies such as the Chief Minister’s Department (State Enforcement and Safety Unit and Administration Unit), State Attorney General’s office, State Immigration Department, Royal Malaysia Police, State Health Department and federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to further refine the approved requirements and regulations of S-MM2H.
“Of course, due to the Movement Control Order and border restrictions, foreigners would not be able to come to Sarawak at the moment, except expatriates who are already in Malaysia at present.”
Abdul Karim said the main enhancements of the programme were to strengthen and safeguard the state’s interests and public security.
“The S-MM2H programme is open to citizens of all countries that have diplomatic relation with Malaysia, except Israel, which is in line with the federal government’s policy on foreign diplomatic relations.”
For the age eligibility for S-MM2H Programme, he said a new category of those aged between 40 and 50-years-old would be eligible to apply with investment in property, specifically for residential purposes with a total amount of at least RM600,000.
Abdul Karim also said new applicants would need to submit a letter of good conduct from relevant government authorities in their home country and the S-MM2H pass can be revoked if participants had any criminal offences.
He said the state was adamant on the strict requirements for those intending to enroll into the programme, since they did not welcome offenders or those involved in activities such as money laundering to come to the state.
“The imposition of security or personal bonds to act as a refundable security deposit in case of any breach or non-compliance to the Immigration Ordinance or Regulations or when unexpected incidents happen to S-MM2H participants and can be used for cost of deportation if necessary,” he said.
The minister added the fixed deposit amount has been increased from RM100,000 to RM150,000 for individuals and from RM150,000 to RM300,000 for couples.
“The minimum amount of the residential house purchase has also been increased from RM350,000 to RM600,000 for Kuching division and from RM300,000 to RM500,000 for other divisions in Sarawak.”
All S-MM2H pass holders need to stay a minimum of 15 days per year in the state to qualify them for a renewal of S-MM2H pass after five years, he added.
Abdul Karim pointed out the parents and children below the age of 21 and not married are allowed to accompany the applicants, while applicants are also required to purchase medical insurance for themselves and dependents.
“(There is also an) establishment of a one-stop panel comprising of multiple government agencies to approve S-MM2H applications. This will ensure that all applications are processed and approved promptly and efficiently.”
Moreover, Abdul Karim informed that agents registered with the state ministry are now allow to submit an application on behalf of applicants, to ease the difficulties faced by applicants in finding a sponsor, while helping tourism agencies in the state to be S-MM2H agents.
“For the agent registration under the federal Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, you may refer to our leaflet and also our website and the federal ministry’s website for further details.”
Abdul Karim said the state will continue to open up the S-MM2H programme to foreigners, despite the temporarily suspension of the MM2H until Dec 31 by the federal government to comprehensively review and reevaluate the federal MM2H programme.
“They are welcome to apply the S-MM2H programme through my ministry abiding to the new enhanced regulations and requirements effective Sept 1. The S-MM2H programme will not be affected by the suspension of the federal MM2H programme.”
Abdul Karim remarked that the state would need to actively diversify its tourism beyond leisure tourism by focusing on the potential of S-MM2H in recent years in welcoming quality visitors, as the Covid-19 pandemic had caused an unprecedented impact on tourism industry.
He revealed that the state had only recorded 1,033,961 visitor arrivals from January to July this year, a decline of about 60 per cent from 2,577,689 arrivals reported during the same period last year.
In July alone this year, which normally would be the peak month for tourism in the state with activities like Rainforest World Music Festival, Abdu Karim said only 72,705 visitors came to the state, from the previous 347,483 arrivals in the same month of 2019.
“The promotion of high yield quality tourism like S-MM2H programme for longer stay term would certainly benefit the tourism sector in Sarawak through the potential expenditure revenue and residential investment.”
He said the ministry was aiming for the programme to attract 1,000 new participants – generating an estimated revenue of about RM8.34 million and RM31 investment by 2030.
Among those in attendance were Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting, Immigration Department Sarawak’s director Datu Ken Leben and the state ministry’s permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee.