The original report was published in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, July 16, 2011
Second-home seekers is ‘a market we can tap into’
Blessed with a year-round summer climate, Malaysia is also great value for money and offers a whole range of practical incentives to those after a place in the sun
Dato’ Dr Ong Hong Peng
Secretary General of Tourism
For everyone from family holidaymakers, nature lovers and sports enthusiasts to second-home buyers, medical tourists and business guests, in addition to unabashed art lovers and out-and-out culture vultures, Malaysia truly is a world-class destination. The ageing baby boomer population is creating a global increase in demand for both second homes and retirement havens, but Malaysia is not alone in wanting to attract British high-end holiday homebuyers and golden agers. So what are Malaysia’s competitive advantages as a second-home destination? Why is Malaysia somewhere that retirees should think about living?
Stability is a big plus, as well as healthcare. English is widely
spoken and is the nation’s second language. Plus, the country has a wide spread of recreation and entertainment options, a fascinating culture, a great climate and represents excellent value for money.
Furthermore, foreign residents in Malaysia can rely on solid governmental support, Here, Dato’ Dr Ong Hong Peng, Secretary General of Tourism, speaks about Malaysia’s appeal to foreigners and the Government’s creative ‘Malaysia, My Second Home’ (MM2H) programme, which is drawing in more and more people to Penang and the capital Kuala Lumpur in particular.
What is your perspective on the global second home and retirement home market and its growth in the future?
There has been an increase in population and a market that we can tap into. Naturally, we want to maximise the pensions and life savings we have, and this potential of Malaysia as a second home or retirement destination is important.
The potential is huge. Even with the increasingly competitive environment where many countries are also trying to attract British people, the market is big enough for all countries to compete in and share. That itself is a positive trend.
Malaysia has many competitive advantages – one is that Malaysia is located near the equator so it is summer all year round. It does not have to go through the harsh and cold winters, and that is good for those of retirement age, especially the Brits.
Retired people are looking for a value-for-money destination – and that is exactly what Malaysia is. It has world-class infrastructure with modern amenities and good medical and recreational facilities. You can relax and visit many interesting places and we have so much to offer.
English is widely spoken, so British people will feel very comfortable here.
We are also very multicultural and multiethnic and we have strength and harmony in diversity, so that makes living in this country very exciting. We have a lot to offer that caters to the different interests of British people.
MANY COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES.
WE HAVE A LOT TO OFFER THAT CATERS
TO THE DIFFERENT INTERESTS OF
THE WHOLE PACKAGE IS VERY ATTRACTIVE
FOR ANY FOREIGNER”
DATO’ DR ONG HONG PENG
Secretary General of Tourism
MM2H is an innovative programme in line with the Ministry’s drive towards longer-stay, higher-spend visitors. Can you share some of the incentives and requirements of the programme?
I would like to highlight that it is a long-stay programme and we welcome UK or foreign residents that meet certain criteria to stay here for long periods of time.
To reflect that, those who are on the Malaysia, My Second Home programme get a 10-year social visit visa (multiple entry), so that is very attractive. Assuming that the offer is taken up, we will continue to renew this social visit visa, as long as the country’s rules and regulations are not violated. There is a sense of security and that you will always be welcome and you can stay here as long as you like.
Foreign residents can bring their own car, tax free, and they can also choose to buy a car locally, again tax free. They can also have offshore income from work. I know of consultants who are based here and who work overseas on assignments, so they are earning offshore.
People can also have a domestic maid and buy property here. It is great value for money in terms of prices. They can own as many properties as they want, subject to a minimum price.
In addition, people with social visit visas can also invest. In the past you could not do this, but now you have the best of both worlds. Also, if you are over 50 and you have a special skill, you can work part time for 20 hours a week here. I think this whole package is very attractive for any foreigner.
There are a lot of people from the UK who have already taken advantage of this programme. Do you have a vision for the future development of Malaysia My Second Home? Are there more things that you would like to do in the future in order to increase the number of people using it or are there any changes you would like to make?
We want to attract more people to the scheme. The participants are screened so that they meet the criteria of high net-worth individuals. We aim to attract more participants.
At the beginning of this year we rebranded the MM2H programme, but do not want to keep changing the terms and conditions. We want consistency, so for the foreseeable future I do not think that we will be making many changes.
Tourism is a very important sector for the country, and as Secretary General of the Ministry of Tourism, what motivates you personally to continue to promote Malaysia as a destination for foreigners?
I believe in Malaysia and what we can offer. We know that whoever comes to Malaysia will be delighted and they will wish that they had got to know Malaysia earlier.
We have a saying – that to know Malaysia is to love Malaysia!
Evelyn Vigistain, Ana Nardelli, Thomas Gallagher, Juan Carlos Jover, Edouard Berthier, Jorge Portillo, Celine Louis, Geoffrey Cooke
Southeastern Asia, peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia, Brunei, and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam
total: 329,847 sq km
country comparison to the world: 67
land: 328,657 sq km
water: 1,190 sq km
AREA - comparative:
slightly larger than New Mexico
tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons
tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite
GEOGRAPHY - note:
strategic location along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea
Muslim (or Islam - official) 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census)
Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
note: in East Malaysia there are several indigenous languages; most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan
28,728,607 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
name: Kuala Lumpur
31 August 1957 (from the UK)
AGRICULTURE - products:
Peninsular Malaysia - rubber, palm oil, cocoa, rice; Sabah - subsistence crops, coconuts, rice; rubber, timber; Sarawak - rubber, timber; pepper
Peninsular Malaysia - rubber and oil palm processing and manufacturing, light manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, medical technology, electronics, tin mining and smelting, logging, timber processing; Sabah - logging, petroleum production; Sarawak - agriculture processing, petroleum production and refining, logging
$210.3 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23
$163.2 billion (2009 est.)
$156.6 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
$117.4 billion (2009 est.)