Over 25% of richest Malaysians 'want PR elsewhere'

KUALA LUMPUR • More than a quarter of ultra-rich Malaysians are seeking permanent residence overseas, making Malaysia's emigration rate the second after China worldwide, the Malay Mail Online reported.

According to Knight Frank, an international property consultancy firm, the trend, caused by the lack of opportunities in Malaysia could lead more high-net-worth citizens with assets in excesss of US$30 million (S$41 million) to seek greener pastures abroad.

"If Malaysia continues to become... not as liberal as we used to be... you might see more Malaysians moving to more liberal countries," Knight Frank Malaysia's managing director Sarkunan Subramaniam said at the launch of The Wealth Report 2016 yesterday.

He pointed out that business and educational opportunities in cities such as London and New York are also "pull factors" that were luring wealthy Malaysians to seek a better life overseas.

Last year, Knight Frank reported that Malaysians had invested US$2.2 billion in Britain, US$1.4 billion in Australia, and US$1 billion each in the US and continental Europe, from 2013 to 2015.

The Employees Provident Fund chief executive Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said last month that 23 per cent more Malaysians had withdrawn from their principal retirement pension account last year, indicating a rise in the number emigrating.

An estimated two million Malaysians have emigrated since Independence in 1957. More than 50,000 Malaysians have renounced their citizenships from 2010 till January this year, according to Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

In January alone, about 1,100 Malaysians renounced their citizenships, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid revealed in Parliament on Monday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2016, with the headline 'Over 25% of richest Malaysians 'want PR elsewhere''. Print Edition | Subscribe