Tiong Advises Liew to Fully Grasp MM2H Issue Before Offering Critique

In the ongoing discourse surrounding the Malaysia My Second Home (Sabah-MM2H) programme, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, Malaysia’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, has offered a word of advice to his Sabah counterpart, Datuk Christina Liew. Tiong encourages Liew to delve deeper into understanding the nuances of the MM2H issue rather than hastily pointing fingers at the federal decision to cease licensing agents for the programme.

An official statement on Tiong’s Facebook page revealed the minister’s disappointment with Liew’s indifference towards the numerous invitations extended to her for discussions on the programme. “Despite several calls for dialogue, Liew’s absence and failure to even send a representative to these crucial meetings signals a lack of commitment to collectively addressing the MM2H challenges for the state of Sabah,” Tiong expressed.

According to Tiong, the dispute involves matters of both “national safety and reputation.” He stressed the importance of competent management in attracting international tourists and ensuring their safety—a responsibility that Sabah’s tourism sector must not take lightly. Tiong remarked that while Liew is free to claim achievements in boosting visitor numbers to Sabah, the primacy of safety cannot be overlooked.

He also referenced a conversation with Sabah’s Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, about his concerns. “It’s regrettable that several tourism matters under her watch remain unresolved,” Tiong lamented, advising his counterpart to prioritize addressing tourism safety before rushing to criticize.

Tiong highlighted steps being taken to address problems within the MM2H programme, such as agents subleasing their permits or absconding with fees, by requiring existing agents to re-register after the announcement of new regulations. “This reform is aimed at bolstering the integrity of the programme, ensuring only qualified and compliant agents are given permits to operate,” he explained.

Further clarifying the distinction between MM2H visa renewals and agent permits, Tiong stated that the latter would undergo rigorous review upon reapplication. The enforcement of new regulations is designed to elevate the standards of the MM2H programme, with a special delegation of authority to Sabah and Sarawak to maintain their unique needs and rights.

Amidst these reforms, Liew had declared Sabah’s intention to proceed with its MM2H programme independently of the federal ministry’s stance. This assertion came after the sudden federal directive which, according to Liew, disrupted over a year’s worth of planning and preparations for the programme in Sabah.

Similarly, Sarawak’s perspective was voiced by Datuk Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts. He criticized Tiong’s unilateral decision, emphasizing the necessity of respecting Sabah and Sarawak’s rights and autonomy in managing the tourism sector—a sentiment deeply rooted in the ongoing discussions surrounding the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the states’ immigration autonomy.

As the dialogue continues, the crux of the MM2H controversy seems to rest on a fundamental discrepancy in visions between federal guidelines and local aspirations. Tiong’s call for cooperation and understanding underscores the complex interplay of governance, safety, and tourism sector growth in Malaysia’s dynamic landscape. As the debate persists, stakeholders from all sides await concrete outcomes that acknowledge both federal standards and regional autonomy, aiming to enhance Malaysia’s appeal as a second home for international visitors.

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