Age of Absence: Covid-19, MM2H and Foreign Spouses

Man alone with his phone at dusk, Wat Botum Park, Phnom Penh. Copyright Kerk Boon Leng @ December 2019.


Our team at Malaysia Residency is busy (sort of). Since 18 March we have been working away from our nice cosy office due to the MCO (Movement Control Order). We are all encamped and isolated in our homes monitoring our MM2H (Malaysia My Second Home) files, updating clients and answering enquiries from all over the world.

The MM2H Centre has earlier said it would reopen on 30 April. We were informed that although the official counters had shuttered, online applications would still be accepted and processed.

Now with the likelihood of the MCO being further extended beyond April, we are not so sure. Most civil servants have been ordered to stay at home. It now looks more like a case of wait-and-see. 

Border controls have tightened. Only returning citizens, permanent residents, foreign diplomats and those with work permits in essential jobs are allowed in. 

Foreigners who are married to Malaysian are only allowed to reunite with their spouse if they have a long-term social visit pass (LTSVP) spouse visa. Unless they already have this stamp endorsed on their passport they cannot enter the country even if they have been legally married for 30 years and are able to present a valid marriage certificate. 

This is gloomy news. That foreign spouses of Malaysian citizens and those with long-term MM2H residency visa are not permitted to be with their loved and closest ones during such period of crisis and uncertainty when their presence is most needed has become the new normal and lopsided logic in this era of social distancing. 

For special cases such as on medical, pregnancy and emotional grounds, appeals can be sent to the Director-General of Immigration at this email address: 

kpi@imi.gov.my

Here are the numbers:

Immigration: + 60-0388801555

National Security Council or Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN): + 60-0388882010

Our movements may be restricted but our hearts should not be. This is the time to show the world what Malaysia is capable of becoming – an open multiracial and welcoming 21st century developed country.

We strongly advise the government to adopt a more appropriate and compassionate policy. Foreign spouses and MM2H residents should be allowed into Malaysia if they have a family or home here. 

This will be an even more powerful brand strategy than any advertisement or slogan Tourism Malaysia could have come up with in 2020.

Tibetans in India

fullsizeoutput_2926
Crowds making their way out of the main temple in Dharamsala after listening to a Wesak Day address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Copyright Kerk Boon Leng @ 2018.

Sixty years after His Holiness the Dalai Lama made the perilous journey over the Himalayas with his family and followers to escape Chinese communist rule, more than 100,000 Tibetans remain in India where they are not officially refugees but “long-term guests”.

Please read more in Dharamsala Dreaming.

MM2H : SOME UPDATES AND CLARIFICATION

fullsizeoutput_1735b

Malaysia this year is a country excited for change. But judging by the way the country is handling the change it wants to make to immigration especially MM2H, it appears not to know how.

Last month the Malaysian government sent a notice to all MM2H licensed agents to tell them that the usual monthly committee meetings to vet applications and to approve them in batches have stopped. All applications they say will now go straight to the Minister responsible for immigration for his decision.

Unhelpfully the Government did not say how this new procedure will affect the time taken for processing approvals. We can only guess that the new processing time will likely be longer than the 6 months it now takes for approval.

The Government’s notice worded in officialese and clumsily circulated via MM2H Agents Association group chat has caused widespread concern and confusion. The notice has misled many into thinking the MM2H programme has been suspended. It hasn’t.

Applications for MM2H are still being accepted. Actually more applications have been received lately. The increase is fueled partly by rumours that the government will soon raise the bar for MM2H or maybe even disband it altogether.

So for those who are interested, you can and should still apply now for MM2H. It’s just that you need to brace yourself for a longer waiting period.

Kerk Boon Leng