MIGRATION agents helping Hong Kong citizens relocate to Malaysia fear Putrajaya might get strict in handling such applications to prevent anti-China sentiments spreading here.They, however, said so far there has been no indication of a change in the government’s position to Hong Kong citizens wanting to get out of their island following the ongoing anti-China protests.

The ongoing unrest there, coupled with poor living conditions in the port city, have increased emigration, with Malaysia being one of the preferred destinations.

Malaysia: My Second Home Programme (MM2H) Agents’ Association president Lim Kok Sai said there has been an increased number of applications from Hong Kong citizens recently.

Lim is worried that Putrajaya will be extra cautious approving such applications out of concern that anti-China sentiments in the international financial hub might spread to Malaysia.

“I personally am a bit worried that Putrajaya may make it stricter for Hong Kong applicants to get approval out of concern that the anti-China movement may spread to Malaysia but I cannot say what the government is thinking,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

Lim, however, said those who applied for the MM2H programme have already gone through strict vetting, including for any criminal record or ongoing court case.

“If you have any criminal or arrest record, Malaysia doesn’t want you. The government only wants quality immigrants to settle in Malaysia,”  he said.

Apart from having a clean record, MM2H applicants must also have the financial ability to support themselves even though their skill-sets are not being considered, he said.

MM2H applicants generally fall within the 30-50 age group and the government will issue 10-year residence visas for approved applicants but not permanent residency.

Association deputy chairman Kurt Tan said Hong Kong residents prefer Malaysia because of the good living conditions, similarities in food and culture and easy communication as English is widely used in both countries.

To prove that an applicant has no criminal record, the person must apply for a document of good conduct at the Malaysian consulate in the port city, and the consulate will then cross reference records with local police.

“The process takes about a month. Generally, those approved will receive a 10-year residency permit which can be renewed after the ninth year as long as the person had not broken any law during the stay here,” Tan said.

MM2H director Sharifah Ikhlas Syed Ismail Aljaffree has been reported as saying previously that there had been 251 Hong Kong applicants this year, more than last year’s 193.

MM2H was established in 2002 and 1,087 Hong Kong citizens managed to obtain residence visas. Almost 50% of the numbers were issued in 2017 and 2018, reflecting the positive impression of Hong Kong folk towards Malaysia.

In 2017, MM2H received 6,195 applications, out of which 339 were from Hong Kong, placing number five on the list of most number of applicants. In 2018, out of 3,399 approved applications, 193 were from Hong Kong, placing it at number four.

According to numbers from MM2H, the most number of applications are from China. From 2002 to 2018, 12,882 Chinese citizens applied, followed by Japan (4,778), Bangladesh (4,135), UK (2,651), South Korea (2,278), Singapore (1,459), Iran (1,459), Taiwan (1,396), Hong Kong (1,087) and Indonesia (1,047).

The MM2H website states that foreign applicants must have the means to support themselves while staying in Malaysia. Applicants below 50 years must possess at least RM50,000 in assets and a monthly income of at least RM10,000; those above 50 years old must possess at least RM35,000 in assets and a monthly income of at least RM10,000. Retirees must also prove that their retirement fund comes up to about RM10,000 a month.

For applicants who purchased properties at least worth RM1 million, they can place deposits at a lower rate.