March 19, 2002

Malaysia relaxes foreign residency rules

Malaysia has relaxed rules on foreigners wanting to live in the country as part of efforts to boost economic growth, reports said Tuesday.
The government has removed the age limit on high-income foreigners wanting to make Malaysia their second home, Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung was quoted as saying by Chinese-language daily Sin Chew Jit Poh.
The "silver-hair" program to encourage retirees aged 50 and above to reside in Malaysia has been replaced with the "Malaysia, My Second Home" program, he said.
The "silver-hair" program had attracted only 795 foreigners to retire in Malaysia since it was launched in 1996 but the new scheme would woo more foreigners to stay for long periods in the country, he said.
Chor said encouraging foreigners to stay and spend in the country would boost the country's economic growth.
"The programme, which takes immediate effect, sees many conditions being relaxed compared to the previous programme. Among other things, it does not impose any age restrictions on applicants and does not require sponsors," he was quoted as saying by Bernama.
Under the new program, foreign individuals with a monthly income of 7,000 ringgit (1,842 dollars) and couples with a combined monthly income of 10,000 ringgit could stay in Malaysia for five years, instead of three years previously.
Foreigners were also allowed to buy local residential properties costing at least 150,000 ringgit. Previously, they could only purchase properties costing more than 250,000 ringgit.
Chor said foreigners who wanted to purchase residential properties must seek 40-60 percent financing from local financial institutions.