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

RIYADH: Three citizens, aged above 65, and a 32-year-old expatriate have died of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in Riyadh raising the death toll to 471 in Saudi Arabia since June 2012, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.It also reported...
JEDDAH: Five hospitals and health centers across the Kingdom have been ranked among the 10 top hospitals in the Arab World, according to the Webometrics Ranking of World Hospitals 2015 conducted by Cybermetrics Lab. King Faisal Specialist Hospital an...
RIYADH: The children of the martyrs and wounded soldiers will be given preference for jobs in the organization, KACST President Prince Turki bin Saud Bin Mohammad Al-Saud said Riyadh on Tuesday.On an initiative from the Ministry of Education, a two-d...
JEDDAH: The laboratory of Al-Amal Complex for Mental Health was recently ranked fifth in the RIQAS program for biochemistry out of 120 laboratories. It also came in sixth in the same program for the department of hematology among the 60 participants,...
RIYADH: Anticipating high temperatures during the Haj season, the Ministry of Health has made arrangements to install more equipment to treat heatstroke patients among pilgrims, Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Al-Mirghalani said following a meeting...
RIYADH: The National Water Company (NWC) has added a new feather to its cap by launching an e-branch (website www.nwc.com.sa) to serve the customers around the clock.The NWC, which aims to become the leading water utility in the Gulf that comes under...
DAMMAM: Traffic regulations in the Kingdom and many countries of the world dedicate the right lane of highways and roads to trucks as they are designed to carry heavy weights in contrast to the other lanes, which are allocated for lighter weight vehi...
RIYADH: The solar-power plant, “Layla,” in Aflaj province, will be opened shortly, Saleh Al-Awaji, chairman of Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), has said.The Saudi Electricity Company (SEC) is one of the signatories, along with King Abdulaziz City for...
RIYADH: The expanded facility for machine readable passports (MRPs) at the Embassy of Pakistan will help the mission process over 1,200 applications on daily basis. The new setup was inaugurated on Tuesday.Saudi Arabia hosts the largest Pakistan comm...
RIYADH: The Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) has directed manufacturers and their agents in the Kingdom to strictly follow the safety regulations for the new cars to be marketed to the Kingdom beginning 2017.In a statement r...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Social Affairs recently honored 20 academically gifted orphans whom it had earlier sent to Japan for ten days to visit attractions that include cultural and educational institutions. Ministry of Social Affairs Undersecretary D...
JEDDAH: Prince Bandar bin Abdullah, member of the board of trustees of King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Foundation for Humanitarian Action, spoke at the World Scout Jamboree in Japan. He expressed his gratitude and appreciation for the invi...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Health has issued a circular to all health sector employees to ensure they sterilize their hands prior to dealing with patients.The circular, issued by Deputy Minister for Public Health Dr. Abdul Aziz Abdullah bin Saeed, is in...
JEDDAH: The Indonesian Consulate and community have been conducting their 70th Independence Day celebrations for the past three months by having different cultural and social activities. On Tuesday, the consulate arranged a blood donation camp with t...
JEDDAH: The Specialized Penal Court in Jeddah on Tuesday issued a preliminary verdict on the imprisonment of two Saudi suspects to 38 years.The first suspect was charged with firing on the police center in Awamiyah, Qatif Province, while the other wa...

Stay Connected

Facebook