Asia’s long-stay schemes lure foreigners



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Sunday 30 December 2012

Last update 29 December 2012 11:03 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Like many Japanese mothers, Ritsuko Kawasaki fretted over the health and safety risks of remaining in Japan after 2011’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters.
So in August she and her two boys moved to the Malaysian island of Penang under a government long-stay program that aims to lure foreigners — and their money — to the country.
“I don’t think I want to return to Japan. Life here in Penang is so comfortable,” said Kawasaki, 43.
With its warm climate, political stability and modern economy, Malaysia has drawn 19,488 foreigners to settle in the country since launching the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program 10 years ago.
MM2H and similar schemes in Thailand and the Philippines have traditionally targeted western retirees in the hope they will settle down and boost the economy.
But program officials say Asians are now the typical applicants, led by post-quake Japanese and increasingly affluent Chinese.
A total of 2,387 MM2H applicants were approved in 2011, and the government is targeting 3,000 for 2012, officials say.
The Malaysian incentives include a ten-year multi-entry visa, tax exemption for remittances of offshore pension funds, the right to open a business, tax-free purchases of locally made cars, and other enticements.
Applicants, meanwhile, must deposit a certain amount of money in a local bank account — $ 50,000 for MM2H — in return for a life under the sun. For Britons Keith and Adrienne Francis, sunshine was the clincher as they mulled whether to settle back in England after Keith’s 2004 retirement from 35 years in the Hong Kong police force.
“Look at the UK, it is dull and cold,” Adrienne said as the couple sipped sweet milk tea in an Indian restaurant in Georgetown, Penang’s British colonial-era capital.
Their other options had included the Thai resort Phuket.
“I didn’t like Phuket because of the bars,” she said of its bawdy nightlife.
The couple said Muslim-majority Malaysia was attractive due to its high living standards, lack of political upheaval seen often in its neighbors, quality medical care and widely spoken English.
Under MM2H, retirees also can own freehold property and land — although some restrictions apply — a key factor for the Francises, who shuddered at the thought of a costly and cramped retirement nest in Hong Kong.
Home is now a spacious 2,500-square-foot (232-square-meter) seaside Penang condo they bought in 2004 for $ 182,000.
But increasingly it is Asians, and particularly Chinese and Japanese, driving the so-called “silver” market — business opportunities linked to seniors — says Janice Chia, managing director of Singapore-based consultancy Ageing Asia.
She said by 2050 Asia will account for an estimated 63 percent of the world’s senior citizens, who will become increasingly important to economies, especially as medical advances extend lifespans. “Traditionally, MM2H has attracted Western retirees, but there will be greater movements of Asian retirees to Southeast Asia,” where they “can stretch their retirement dollar,” Chia said.
Siti Nani Shaarani, director of MM2H, said its applicants are now led by China, Japan, Bangladesh, the United Kingdom and Iran.
The Philippine Retirement Authority cites a similar mix of origins for the nearly 21,000 people now in its retirement incentive program, led by China, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
England, America and Germany still top Thailand’s long-stay scheme, which approved 35,488 applicants in 2011, according to Thai immigration figures.
Coming to Malaysia was a big leap for Kawasaki, who speaks only Japanese. She likes that her two boys, nine and three years old, are learning English in school.
But Malaysia’s relative safety appealed to her the most. The country is seismically stable and free of the typhoons that annually rake east Asia.
“A month later (after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami), I visited Miyagi prefecture to witness the damage. I was totally shocked by the extent of the destruction,” the former career consultant said.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Social media is abuzz with the news of an 80-year-old man who has been relieved of his duties after working for four decades at the Prophet’s Mosque. Citizens have launched a campaign for the man, identified as Moqtada by publishing his photo...
DAMMAM: The World Heritage Committee of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added the rock art in Hail to the World Heritage List. The addition was made during the committee’s 39th session in Bonn, Germany, and becam...
Huge projects change the faces of cities and great ambitions help create such projects. Madinah had its date with a quantum leap to usher in a new era of urban development. Such huge projects help achieve formidable civilization advancements and sign...
RIYADH: The Japanese ambassador to the Kingdom, Noriheiro Okoda, has held a meeting with Hashem Abdullah Yamani, president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE), and discussed bilateral cooperation in the fields of atom...
AL-BAHA: Forty three percent of Al-Baha cannot be developed easily because of the region’s mountainous terrain.This is the view of Khaled Al-Sayegh, undersecretary for construction at the municipality, who was speaking at an event held at the College...
JEDDAH: An official at the Council of Saudi Chambers said the council’s members are discussing a regulation to submit to the Ministry of Labor and other government agencies to deny a number of privileges to companies that force its labor to work unde...
ABHA: With many families wanting new furniture during Ramadan, furniture and interior decorating shops are raising prices to more than double what they were before the month.Homeowner Zaina Mohammed says she used to change her home furniture every Ra...
RIYADH: Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) President Prince Sultan bin Salman described the first visit by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Madinah as “historic.”In his comments following the visit which saw th...
MADINAH: Economists expected the volume of investments in Madinah’s economies during the coming few years to reach SR500 billion.The forecasted growth in the population, to reach 2.6 million people after 25 years, and the number of visitors to 12.2 m...
JEDDAH: It seems that many Saudi families are gradually coming to terms with the new reality of living in apartments, as building villas is not possible due to shortage of appropriate land.With the increasing display of housing units by the Ministry...
RIYADH: Migrant rights advocacy group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) has lambasted their country’s leadership over the claim that the number of overseas Filipino workers are declining due to sustained economic growth in the Philippines.The group has cal...
RIYADH: A charitable foundation called “Smile” will be launched on Sunday night at the Al-Hokair Land in the Saudi capital to make people happy. “The foundation will be launched to make Saudi Arabia a center of smiles,” well-known television host and...
MAKKAH: The Kingdom has seen a sharp rise in the number of Umrah pilgrims to around 6 million from 1.5 million in the last 16 years. Moreover, the number of pilgrims overstaying their visas has come down to about 1 percent. The Ministry of Haj has be...
RIYADH: The King Khalid Foundation (KKF) said here recently that it has financed small enterprises (SMEs) run by 130 widows in some of the Kingdom’s provinces.KKF hosted an iftar party last week for local media at its headquarters in Riyadh at which...
JEDDAH: Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz bin Musaed, governor of the Northern Borders province, has died.He will be buried after Taraweeh prayers in Jeddah on Saturday, the Royal Court said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency. No other det...

Stay Connected

Facebook