A great article about Penang.
By William (BJ) Huffman
In 2015, my wife and I began to consider our retirement plans. We knew that we wanted to move to Southeast Asia as we wanted to take advantage of our age and travel in this part of our world while our health still permitted.
While researching online, my wife discovered the Malaysia My 2nd Home (MM2H) programme. After spending a holiday here in 2016, we were convinced that Malaysia would become our new home!
We initially chose Malaysia because of its high use of English language, central location for easy travel across Asia and the promise of a renewable 10-year MM2H visa.
After retiring and moving to Penang in 2018, our reasons for living here have changed significantly. We quickly came to love many things about living in Malaysia.
Friendly smiles from almost everyone we encounter or a stranger’s willingness to go out of his way to help a lost and bumbling orang asing convinced us that Malaysians are truly warm and friendly people.
We love it when locals recommends their favourite food such as Penang laksa, curry mee, ikan bakar, chicken masala, durian kampung, rojak or cendol, and have come to embrace the food culture.
We have marked our calendar with all of the holidays celebrated here and have come to realise that not only is Malaysia a multiethnic and multicultural society, but more importantly, you allow each group to maintain its cultural identity (unlike our country, which forces immigrants to assimilate and conform). We have tried our best to fit in Malaysia.
We now have an adik lelaki and an adik perempuan, and we love spending time at their house in Kota Kuala Muda.
We have helped honour relatives at wakes and funerals with new friends in Penang and Seberang Prai.
I continue to study Bahasa and do my best to learn Hokkien (just knowing lu ho bo, cam siah and ho chiah goes a long way on the island).
We’ve also learned to say “salam pakcik/makcik” in Kedah and found out that a simple “nandri” usually elicits another smile when ordering roti canai or nasi kandar.
We have supported a fund-raiser for the volunteer bomba in Tanjung Bungah (Mount Erskine), attended a dinner honouring the police for their efforts during the pandemic and were privileged to have tea with the former governor of Penang (and, yes, I was taught by a friend to address him as Tuan Yang Terutama).
However, beginning Oct 1, the rules of the MM2H programme (and the lives of all MM2H visa holders) will change.
While the original rule of the programme required applicants to have a minimum of RM10,000 per month in offshore income, we are now required to have RM40,000 per month.
While the original rule required us to deposit RM150,000 in a fixed deposit in Malaysia, we are now required to place RM1,000,000 in a fixed deposit.
As financially blessed as my wife and I are, we (along with 90 to 95 per cent of
visa holders) will no longer qualify for the programme and will have to leave Malaysia when our visas expire.
We are privileged to live in Malaysia and know that the government has the right to change the rules, and we acknowledge that we are not entitled to any special treatment.
More importantly, the government is focused on leading our country out of the most challenging situation since World War 2, not on trying to appease a small number of orang asing kaya.
However, the promise of the MM2H programme has always been that any new, stricter requirements would not apply to existing visa holders.
Our hope and prayer are that Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin will reconsider the requirements as they apply to the current visa holders.
We sincerely want to remain in Malaysia and enjoy the wonderfully diverse and hospitable culture that you have created here.
William (BJ) Huffman (MM2H Holder), Penang
(This article was first published in NST Online)
* The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Penang Property Talk.
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