Malaysia 'second home' to many

KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIA continues to be the preferred choice of home for expatriates, with 2,285 registering under the Malaysia My Second Home Programme (MM2H) from January until August this year.
MM2H director Siti Nani Shaarani said the programme, which targeted 3,000 more participants before the end of the year, had attracted some 19,488 participants since its implementation in 2002.
Expressing confidence that the target could be achieved, Siti Nani said the number was poised to soar, partly due to aggressive promotional efforts by the Tourism Ministry.
"Since its implementation, MM2H has received an overwhelming response," she said, adding ministry officials had gone to countries such as Japan, China and the United Arab Emirates to promote the programme.
She was responding to Forbes' World's Friendliest Countries 2012 released recently, which ranked Malaysia as the 10th in the world.
The ranking proved that Malaysia was a hospitable country for foreigners to live in, she said.
From January until August this year, among the expatriates who settled down in Malaysia included 558 Japanese, 475 Chinese nationals and Bangladeshis (325).
Last year, a total of 2,387 applications, mainly from Japan, China, Iran and Bangladesh, were approved and they are now living in the country.
MM2H allows foreigners who fulfilled certain criteria to stay in the country for as long as possible on a multiple-entry social visit pass.
Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said Malaysians should keep up their "good work and hospitality culture."
"I am proud (with the ranking) but we must work harder for a better position next year."
She added hospitality did not require infrastructure or cash but "more importantly, it is people's attitude and warmth towards tourists."
"In Malaysia, we have all the basic ingredients of a multicultural society. So, naturally, that makes our people hospitable."
Tourism Malaysia chairman Datuk Dr Victor Wee said the ranking acknowledged Malaysia's livability due to harmonious interaction between people of different races.
"Not only locals, but foreigners, too, are impressed with the high quality of life that can be enjoyed at a reasonable cost of living in this country."
Wee also said the International Living magazine ranked Malaysia fourth in its 2012 World's Top Ten Retirement Havens.
In terms of tourism, he added the Japanese considered Malaysia as their top choice for longer stays.
"Among the reasons why expatriates chose to stay here are because of the high standard of living, excellent healthcare system, economic and political stability and balmy weather."
Echoing similar sentiments, Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) president Datuk Albert Tan San Sun said it was an honour for Malaysia to be placed in the position. "This is something to be proud of."
On language barriers that contributed highly towards difficulty in integrating between locals and the expatriates, Tan said it was not a threat.
"Most of our locals can speak English well. Even the education system has a multi-language system that allows students to communicate better in both English and Bahasa Melayu."
Malaysian Association of Hotel Owners president Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman said the relevant authorities should hire more multilingual tourist guides to assist tourists who were not well-versed in English.
"Perhaps, the government can look into hiring those who are fluent in Japanese and Arabic besides Mandarin, English and Bahasa Melayu."
Source: New Straits Times, 30 Oct 2012