MM2H: Federal has no right under MA63
Published on: Sunday, August 29, 2021
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Forum on August 22
On 4th August 2021 the Federal Government imposed strict restrictions on foreigners under the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme.

This programme is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and related bodies like the Ministry of Finance, Home affairs and Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Stricter conditions were imposed. Foreigners must have; 

1. A monthly wage of Rm40,000(300pc increase)

2. Minimum Fixed deposit increased to RM 1,000,000(600pc increase)

3. Minimum liquidity requirement increased to RM1,500,000(400pc increase).

Sabah Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (Shareda) and Warisan said Sabah should have its own MM2H guidelines or risk losing millions in investments.

Warisan’s Datuk Darrel Leiking and Shareda president Datuk Chua Soon Ping, said Sabah should emulate Sarawak in setting their own requirements known as Sarawak-MM2H(S-MM2H), as the revised criteria would drive foreign investors away. They  proposed that Sabah come out with its own version of MM2H to be called Sabah-MM2H (SB-MM2H).

This proposal is very reasonable and correct, seen from the context of Sabah rights. MM2H falls principally under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (MOTAC). 

Therefore it is principally a tourism matter. Tourism (and Environment for that matter) were never discussed or put in the 20 Points,the Inter-Government Committee report (1963), Malaysia Agreement 1963, the Malaysia Act 1963 (Act 26) and the original Federal Constitution thereunder. 

It was not considered an important matter in 1962 or 1963. Since it is not enumerated in any of the Foundational documents, it is therefore a residual matter in which “The Legislature of a state shall have power to make laws” (Article 77).

 How it ended up being in the Federal List, List 1 of the Ninth Schedule as item 25A in1994 to become under Federal control is a matter of great conjecture,speculation and surprise. So, at the moment Tourism is under Federal control. The relevant Act is the Tourism Industry Act 1994 and various acts and the regulations thereunder.

Foreigners who take part in the MM2H scheme are generally well heeled and elderly. Some young people and couples are in the programme too. This class of people spend much more money than the general tourists as they buy properties, vehicles, food, travel, take part in local activities and invest in the local community. Some have married locals and have been residing in Sabah for many years.

Tourism is one of the agreed 17 out of 21 issues discussed between the then federal Pakatan Harapan(PH) and Perikatan Nasional(PN)  and the State Government. This is confirmed by the Hansard dated 10th August 2020 in Parliament by Dato Hajah Hanifah Hajar Taib, where the PN’s Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s  department in charge of Sabah and Sarawak affairs stated that discussions were ongoing between the federal and state government and it would take 1-3 years to sort things out.

Therefore, it is timely to insist and exercise on this right in this instance. Since Tourism is agreed to be devolved to Sabah, why not start with the MM2H issue?

How long before we have Devolution and Decentralisation? You have to start somewhere. 

There are plenty of other issues with respect to Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Environment, among others which will be brought out in time to come.

Sabahans know better what investments and the category of people it wants. It should be able to exercise its discretion on whom, how, what and when it will allow foreigners into Sabah. 

These matters cannot be left at the hands of Malaya. We have seen what that can mean. 

Anuar Ghani

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