The federal government's revised criteria for the applications of Malaysia My Second Home programme (MM2H) will drive tourists away from Sabah, Sabah Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) chairman Datuk Seri Winston Liaw said.
"These new rules will greatly damage our country's reputation and push tourists to go elsewhere. We urge the Sabah government not to adopt the federal government's decision for the sake of Sabahans."
The revised terms and requirements of MM2H introduced by the federal government effective in October include an increase in the minimum monthly income to RM40,000; a minimum fixed deposit of RM1 million; a minimum liquidity requirement of RM1.5 million; a yearly visa fee of RM500 and the visa duration reduced to five years.
Liaw said the requirements should be instead made attractive to boost foreign investments.
"During these trying times, we should welcome foreigners to invest in our country. We should ease the requirements of MM2H to attract them to invest in Malaysia, especially in Sabah.
"The Sabah government should stand firm on this point. Do it for the good of Sabah because the revised requirements are driving our economy backwards," said Liaw.
He said the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic had seen business operators struggling to survive due to the absence of cash flow.
"Therefore, our government should welcome more foreign investors and expatriates to inject funds into our economy by lowering the requirements set in the MM2H," urged Liaw.
He was concurring with the Sabah Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (Shareda) who had earlier urged the state government to emulate Sarawak who had set up its own requirements, known as Sarawak-MM2H (S-MM2H).
Among others under the S-MM2H, the fixed deposit is set from RM150,000 to RM300,000 for couples; property investment of RM600,000 for applicants between 40 and 50 years old and above 30 years old are also considered if they are accompanying their children to study in Sarawak or seeking long-term medical treatment.
Shareda president Datuk Chua Soon Ping said the revised MM2H programme would risk seeing Sabah losing millions of ringgit in investments.
Chua had proposed for Sabah to come out with their own version of MM2H named Sabah-MM2H (SB-MM2H).
He said a localised MM2H programme could effectively help boost tourism, property sales, business, cash inflow into the state and domestic spending.
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