Yen Yen: Foreigners welcome to buy uninhabited isles

By Sarban Singh, The Star

OSAKA: Malaysia welcomes foreigners who wish to buy or develop any of its uninhabited islands as this could help stimulate the country’s economy and bring in more tourist dollars.

The foreigners can develop these islands as joint ventures with locals or even build their homes here and make Malaysia their second home, said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She stressed, however, the state governments would have the final say on such transactions as land is a state matter.

“We are, however, open to this idea. It will help open up our economy and provide more opportunities to Malaysians as well,” she said, adding there were 1,007 islands around the country with the majority uninhabited and some remaining unnamed.

Dr Ng, on a promotion tour of Japan, was speaking to a group of Japanese investors, travel agents and operators, and airline representatives here.

She said Malaysia enjoyed political stability and was not exposed to natural disasters, such as typhoons or earthquakes. It was also a reasonably cheap place to live in, she added.

Earlier, Dr Ng had a luncheon meeting with Osaka prefecture deputy governor Kimura Shinsaku and his delegation.

She said 395,746 Japanese visited Malaysia last year as against 433,462 in 2008. The decline was mainly due to the global economic slowdown and the H1N1 outbreak.

“We are targeting 430,000 Japanese tourist arrivals this year.

We are confident of achieving this as the first half of this year has seen close to a 2% increase in arrivals compared to the corresponding period last year,” she said.

Later in the evening, she launched the Jalan Jalan Makan campaign at a hotel here to promote the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme and a host of products such, as homestay, train leisure tours and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions).

She also attended a Hari Raya gathering with Malaysian students, where she urged them to act as ambassadors to promote the MM2H programme.

“Also, if you can get 40 people to attend a homestay programme we will give you an incentive such as a free ticket home,” she said.