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KL invites S'poreans to live or retire in Malaysia

Residents from China and Taiwan also being wooed in 'Malaysia: My Second Home' programme

By LEONARD LIM

(SINGAPORE) The Malaysian government is believed to be targetting for the first time residents from Singapore, China and Taiwan in its 'Malaysia: My Second Home' programme.

Green Dales Worldwide Sdn Bhd, the government's official sponsor and representative for the programme, placed an advertisement in The Business Times yesterday inviting Singaporeans to apply. The advertisement was the first to be published here since the programme was launched in December 2002.

Formerly known as the Silver Hair Programme, the government initiative allows people from all over the world who fulfil certain criteria to live or retire in Malaysia on a social visit pass with multiple entry visa.

Under the latest programme, two key criteria must be met by applicants. First, they must have a sponsor that has been appointed by the Immigration Department of Malaysia, like Green Dales.

Second, the said sponsor must provide a security bond to the Malaysian government for the applicant.

If the applicant is found in breach of Malaysian laws or any of the conditions under the programme, this money is surrendered to the government and the applicant's pass withdrawn. BT understands that a usual bond price paid by Green Dales is RM2,000 (S$910).

S K Chan, chief executive of Green Dales, gave three reasons Singaporeans were sought after: the island-state's proximity to Malaysia, the multitude of Singapore investments there, and the relatively attractive cheaper cost of living across the Causeway.

'The main aim of this programme is to boost our economy. Foreigners coming here will spend on property, accommodation, transport and food,' he said. Malaysians have always welcomed Singaporeans to travel and shop there because of their high spending power.

The continued economic downturn, which has cost people jobs and pay in Singapore, could be another reason Singaporeans will increasingly see Malaysia as an alternative place to live.

BT understands there have been about 1,000 successful applicants since the programme was launched, and most are from China and Britain.

The current initiative has borne more fruit than its predecessor, which saw a 'three-digit figure' in its six years of existence.

That programme was launched in 1996 to help housing developers reduce the over-hang in the property market by selling units to foreigners. It was a 'total failure', according to an industry source.

The source also told BT that the current programme is not really as successful as expected. Many applicants do not live in Malaysia but continue to reside in their home countries, hence failing to boost the economy.

On whether the advertisement was in response to the Malaysian government's announcement last week that it would relax property ownership rules for foreigners, the source said he felt this was not the case, as applicants are not obliged to buy property in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Malaysian service apartments developer Mayland invited Singaporeans to invest in the country's property market yesterday. It is offering Singaporeans a special 6 per cent guaranteed return a year for the first two years.


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