GEORGE TOWN: As Malaysia readies itself to roll out the red carpet for a new visa scheme to attract foreign tycoons and wealthy businessmen to invest and give the national economy a further boost, it should do so with great caution, Gerakan said today.
The Malaysia Premium Visa Programme will reportedly attract at least 1,000 participants in its first year, which the government expects will add RM200 million to the national coffers, with RM1 billion in deposits.
Gerakan national vice-president Datuk Baljit Singh said this “residence by investment programme”, targeted at high-net-worth foreigners, may have succeeded in countries like Singapore, Thailand and Portugal.
“What types of checks and screening mechanisms have been put in place before these premium visitors are given resident status here?
“Do we have the necessary measures to ensure that Malaysia does not earn a tag as a preferred option for unscrupulous activities like crime and money-laundering?
“We have come across enough ‘global tycoons’ and supposedly wealthy individuals who have ended up causing enough embarrassment to their host and birth countries.
“Has enough thought been given that Malaysians may end up with the short end of the stick with the entry of such international tycoons?” he asked.
Malaysia recently rolled out the Premium Visa Programme (PVIP) to draw rich investors, except those with no diplomatic ties with Malaysia, to settle in the country.
The number of applicants will be capped at 1 per cent of the Malaysian population. This limit includes the number of participants under the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme.
PVIP applicants must have a minimum of RM1 million in their bank account and can only withdraw 50 per cent of that sum after a year to pay for property purchases or medical and educational expenditures.
The PVIP residency requirements include a monthly income of RM40,000 and an upfront participation fee of RM200,000 per candidate and RM100,000 per dependent.
Both Mah Sing Group Bhd and Juwai IQI had said that the PVIP would attract wealthy overseas investors to Malaysia and assist the local property business.
Property prices for one, said Baljit, were bound to shoot up as well as medical and a host of other services.
“The country is still recovering from the ravages of Covid-19 pandemic. Please let us get our domestic issues in order first, by ensuring a sound economy and helping Malaysians back on their feet.
“The Premium Visa Programme should not implemented in such haste by Oct 1. Guidelines have to be in place to guard local interests,” he added.