KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 ― Apart from the Malays, Chinese and Indians who form the three largest demographic groups in the country, the population is made up of other indigenous groups like the Dayaks, Kadazans and many more.
In the last few years with the country opening its doors to other nationalities who come here either to work or retire, its cultural make-up has become even more diverse.
Below, Malay Mail Online takes a closer look at the people who have made Malaysia their chosen home-away-from-home.
Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme
Introduced under the Tourism and Culture Ministry, this long-stay international residency programme allows foreigners to live in Malaysia for up to 10 years at a time.
To gain consideration, applicants need to show they are financially secure. The 10-year-long visa is also renewable, which is reassuring for international residents, especially if they own property in Malaysia.
As of November 2016, 31,723 foreigners have been calling Malaysia their second home. Based on the programme’s statistics, citizens from mainland China are leading the pack of international residents at 7,976.
It was also recently reported that Chinese nationals have invested more than US$2.1 billion (RM9.25 billion) in Malaysian real estate over the past three years, compared to US$985 million invested by Singaporean companies from 2014 to 2016.
This phenomenon has been dubbed the “third wave” of the Chinese into Malaysia after over 100 years.
The 19th-century influx from China was seen as the “second wave” with many who came looking for work or to escape the revolution in their motherland.
A large number later settled here and have since adapted to local cultures as well as contributed their own, thereby enriching the Malaysian experience.
Affordable living, regionally
An average rental condominium in the heart of Kuala Lumpur will cost around RM4,500 a month. Now compare that to Singapore, an apartment of the same size and luxuries you get in the form of facilities will go for around S$4,000 (RM12,667) a month.
An expat from Japan in a testimonial video by MM2H said that membership for golf clubs in Malaysia were cheaper than in his country. He pointed out that was one of the reasons that made him want to migrate here.
Its mild, tropical climate year round, wide variety of food and dining options and accessible medical and health facilities have also put Malaysia in the top 10 countries favoured by the world’s silver-haired citizens.
In fact, Malaysia was ranked sixth in the latest Annual Global Retirement Index 2017, the only Asian nation to make the cut.
But retirees are not the only people who have been homing in on Malaysia. Since the 1990s, Southeast Asia’s third largest economy has attracted many foreigners looking to gain a share of its prosperity by seeking employment here.
Statistics show that there are officially over 1.8 million migrant workers in Malaysia who work in labour intensive industries like construction and plantations, though certain groups believe the number is much higher.
The bulk of them are from neighbouring Indonesia at 700,000, largely due to the similarities in the Malay language and religion. Both Malaysia and Indonesia are Muslim-majority nations.
And for a period, Malaysia was heavily reliant on Indonesia’s women who were highly sought after as live-in domestic helpers. But that has been changing in recent years as President Joko Widodo’s administration seeks to end the flow of its maid export worldwide by this year.
Would that mean the exodus of the Indonesians? Perhaps, but as Malaysia keeps an open door to all, others will take their place.