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Malaysia as a second home
04/06/2005 NST-PROP By Salleh Buang

The Malaysia: My Second Home (MMSH) campaign is rooted in policy. It is a Federal, not State initiative and not, as far as I am aware, grounded in any specific law. Therein lies the difficulty, and the room for error.

If things turn out badly, as what happened in Malacca, we might be seen as sending the wrong signal to those people targetted by this national campaign.

Perhaps inadvertently, maybe even unintentionally, we are also sabotaging this drive.

The local print media recently published the story of the “shattered dreams” of British citizen Rajandren Anamalai and his family. He went to Malacca three years ago, wanting to make this lovely state his second home. Now, he and his wife Martina are thinking of leaving.

Their reason? The dream home that they bought turned out to be a terrible disappointment.

When Rajandren bought his property in the State’s beach resort of Klebang Besar for RM5 million in 2002, he was assured of unhindered access to the beach. He was told that the land behind his house was officially listed as vacant land and that nothing would be built there in the future.

However, the news report did not state specifically who told Rajandren those things - whether it was his lawyer, or the Land Office.

“I was delighted as I wanted a sea view and that was exactly what I paid for,” Rajandren had said. “But I was shocked when some people turned up late last year and claimed the land had been alienated to them.”

He said the men accused him of encroaching on their land. Subsequently, they tore down his fence and cut down several old trees along the beach. Rajandren discovered later that the land had since been given Malay Customary Land (MCL) status.

Any previous expectation of having unhindered access to the beach and a good sea view went up in smoke when workmen arrived and started to build a wall. He was told a house was planned to built there.

That is, as far as we know, Rajandren’s side of the story. We have not been told anything else, either by the new owner of the land, or by the relevant Land Office.

Meanwhile, Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, who obviously did not know anything about the issue but now wants to know everything, has asked the relevant authority to give him a detailed explanation.

What we know so far is his statement that “the State Government views the matter seriously”.

We hope that when the Chief Minister gets the information later from his officials, he will share it with the general public. We would like to know the real status of the so-called “vacant land” lying between Rajandren’s property and the public beach.

Was this land actually part of the foreshore? If so, and although alienable under law, it should not have been alienated in this instant. Or, was it ordinary beach-front land which the State authority can appropriately dispose of by way of alienation under section 44 (read together with section 76) of the National Land Code 1965?

If it is the latter case, and the law permits the State authority to alienate the land, who is the owner? Are he or she an ordinary, landless local person or an outsider with “good connections” to those in the corridors of power?

Assuming the alienation is perfectly legal and above-board and that there is not even a hint of impropriety or abuse of power, the next question is: Why not permit a passageway, referred to in law as “a right of way”, for Rajandren and his family to have unhindered access to the beach?

In other words, when the State authority decided to alienate the land, why didn’t it take this factor into consideration? Why choose to alienate the whole land, thereby denying Rajandren access to the beach?

The State authority would not have acted in this manner if it was really supportive of the Federal campaign. It could have easily learnt, from available Land Office records, that Rajandren is a non-citizen but owns residential property in Malacca because of the MMSH campaign.

Such being the case, it could have opted not to alienate the open beach land, treating it as part of the foreshore and therefore, an attraction for the public. Or, if alienation was the choice, it should have taken steps to ensure that Rajandren has passage to the beach. He might lose his sea-view, but he will enjoy his free and unhindered access.

I am told that as at April this year, almost 4,000 foreigners have arrived in Malaysia under the MMSH programme. I am not sure whether the number matches the Federal Government’s expectations, but what I do know is that this programme was originally intended to lure wealthy, elderly people from the West.

However, from 1996 to 2001, the campaign only succeeded in luring 853 participants. In view of the dismal failure, the programme was revised and more attractive incentives were offered. Thereafter, the number improved dramatically.

Official websites state that the programme was initiated by the Federal Government to boost the national economy as well as to promote goodwill between Malaysia and the residents of other countries, encouraging them to make this country their second home. All foreign citizens are welcome, except those from Israel.

Under the programme, these foreign citizens will be able to enter and stay here on a long-term social visit pass with a multiple entry visa. This pass must be renewed yearly. Long-term stay under the programme does not mean (and the Government does not promise) that participants will get permanent resident status.

Anybody can apply to be a participant in this programme, but there are certain financial requirements, concerning monetary deposit and level of income, that have to be fulfilled. An applicant must, in addition, have a sponsor - but the requirement of a local sponsor can be waived at the discretion of the Immigration Department. Finally, there is the medical insurance coverage and a medical report.

Participants under the MMSH programme are not allowed to take up any form of employment in the country. However, being involved in voluntary organisations - those that are not political or missionary in nature in accordance with the laws and procedures in Malaysia - is permitted.

A law is only as good as its enforcement. A policy is only is as good as its implementation. Rajandren’s predicament in Klebang Besar, Malacca, will test to what extent this innovative Federal initiative is being implemented at ground level.

Salleh Buang is senior advisor of a company specialising in competitive intelligence. He is also active in training and public speaking and can be reached at


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