Eyebrows were raised when a Hong Kong-based newspaper recently claimed that Mainland Chinese are migrating to Malaysia “by the thousands”.2 The report stated that in 2016 alone, more than 1,000 Mainland Chinese had utilised the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme to migrate there. Between 2002 to 2016, a total of 31,732 applications for MM2H were approved, and 7,967 of these were from the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC). This means that, since it was started, a dragon’s share – 25 percent – of the migrants have been from the PRC.
Of course the PRC’s increasing presence in Malaysia is not just represented by recent migration. There is a lot happening on the economic front too. When Prime Minister Najib Razak visited the PRC in November 2016, Malaysia signed 14 memoranda of understanding (MOU) with Chinese companies worth a total of MYR 143.64 billion3. Najib visited China again in May 2017, and another nine MOUs worth MYR 30 billion were signed4.
The types of investment are diverse and they are spread throughout the country, as shown in Chart 1. More recently, it was announced that Zhejiang Geely Holding Group would purchase 49.9 percent of Malaysia’s national carmaker Proton from DRB-HICOM5. A report by an Australian investment analysis firm Investorist stated that Malaysia is the PRC’s sixth most preferred property investment country, sharing the spot with Singapore6.
Wan Saiful is Chief Executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, Director of the Southeast Asia Network for Development and Chairman of the Istanbul Network for Liberty.