Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh and Sepanggar MP Azis Jamman have called on the Home Ministry to be more proactive and optimise its services regarding the Foreign Spouse Visa and Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programmes.
The two lawmakers pointed out that the renewal process for the visa of a foreign spouse has created problems for their Malaysian families as it hinders many aspects of their lives including work and education.
"Many Malaysians have foreign spouses living in this country. These couples have children, work and pay taxes to contribute to our economy.
"With multiple lockdowns and currently in a prolonged one, many face difficulties renewing their visas. They are subject to 'Sistem Temujanji Online' (STO) which is fully booked out three months in advance.
"This causes great stress to the family institution - children’s education, medical treatment, job security and many more are fully subjected to the renewal of a spouse's visa," said Yeoh and Azis in a joint statement today.
The former deputy ministers in the Pakatan Harapan government called on Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin to immediately provide relief to this group of visa holders by allowing renewal of visas for a longer term (instead of one or two years).
"This will automatically reduce the large crowd at immigration counters and provide more certainty to these family units," they added.
The duo highlighted that Malaysia has worked hard over the years to promote itself as an attractive destination for foreign investments including through the MM2H programme.
"It is estimated that MM2H visa holders spend RM10,000 a month/RM120,000 annually on living expenses when they make Malaysia their second home.
"The MM2H programme has contributed billions to our local economy but it has been officially suspended since last year.
"Today, many MM2H visa holders have been stranded outside of Malaysia. At times of pandemic like this when our economy is so battered, it is common sense to not drive away contributors of our national income, while we struggle to hold together whatever that is remaining," they said.
While the economy minister is courting new foreign investment overseas, the ones back home are slipping away due to confusing, inconsistent and uncoordinated policies that keep them out of the country, they added.
The lawmakers urged the home minister to allow existing MM2H visa holders who have been fully vaccinated to re-enter the country and release the revised MM2H guidelines for the resumption of the programme.
This is how the home minister can use his power to promote family friendly and income generating policies, they said.
"Home Ministry services must find ways to optimise its services as they deal with essential documents relating to identity and security such as the National Registration Department and its issuance of birth certificates.
"It is also time to consider moving more of its services online by reducing over the counter load. It is also crucial for government websites to publish official notifications promptly and make it easily accessible and this applies to all ministries.
"We urge the Perikatan Nasional government to take a holistic approach and coordinated strategy in rebuilding our economy and maintaining sanity for the affected families," they said, adding that this source of income for the government should not be forsaken at a time when income is scarce.