Malaysia woos wealthy foreign businessmen with new visa scheme

This is open to foreign businessmen and tycoons, except for countries with which Malaysia has no diplomatic relations. PHOTO: REUTERS

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia is rolling out a new visa scheme to attract foreign tycoons and wealthy businessmen to invest and give the national economy a further boost.

The Malaysia Premium Visa Programme is expected to attract at least 1,000 participants in its first year, which the government expects will add RM200 million (S$62 million) to the national coffers, with RM1 billion in fixed deposits.

This "residence by investment" programme, which will begin on Oct 1, is modelled on similar initiatives introduced by other countries such as Singapore, Portugal and Thailand.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin, who made the announcement on Thursday, said the government had received proposals and suggestions to introduce a programme to allow applicants to study, work and conduct business here.

He said the scheme differed from the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) initiatives in which participants are barred from working or studying.

"The premium visa programme will spur economic growth, generate income, and open up more job opportunities. We are confident it will attract global tycoons and wealthy businessmen to not just reside in Malaysia but to also invest and run their businesses here," Datuk Seri Hamzah told a press conference.

He said the programme would not pose a threat to the country's security and sovereignty as there are conditions to be met by the foreigners, adding that the number of participants and that of MM2H and dependants would not be more than 1 per cent of the total number of the national population.

Further, he said the participants would not be eligible to take up Malaysian citizenship.

The programme is open to foreign businessmen and tycoons, except for countries with which Malaysia has no diplomatic relations.

There are 15 conditions that need to be fulfilled for the premium visa programme, which includes proof of offshore income of at least RM40,000 a month or RM480,000 a year.

They must also have RM1 million in fixed deposits and pay a one-off participation fee of RM200,000 (for the principal) and RM100,000 (for each dependant).

Participants can list their spouses, children, parents, and in-laws as dependants and will be allowed to bring in their maids. They will have to show proof of good behaviour, pass a police check, and get their health checked.

Mr Hamzah expressed confidence that the programme would attract more foreign direct investments into the country and strengthen the ringgit.

He said the businesses that the participants could be involved in are as per the sectors listed by the International Trade and Industry Ministry as well as the Economic Planning Unit. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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