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  • Writer's pictureChng TG

Be the First and the Best

Updated: Jun 19

It all started in 2004, when I was informed that a Japanese retirement village would be set up in Penang for the Japanese to retire (by the way, it did not materialize). It was a fascinating thought, and my mind started to spin. Yup. In the future, people may want to come over and retire to Penang or Malaysia. Why not? It is a great place. I have been to many places, and I am still a Penang person. a die-hard Penang boy. When I go to Kuala Lumpur or Johor Baru, food is always a problem, as Penang is the only place that I know of that has really good food at great prices. I was never a fan of restaurants anyway. I would skip them for hawker fare.


So, Alter Domus Management and Services Sdn. Bhd. was set up in 2004. My wife, Roselind, ran the company from home. It was a home-based office, as we don't need to have a physical office. MM2H was done locally at the Penang State Immigration Office. There were only a handful of companies doing MM2H. We cannot do the Japanese market because we speak no Japanese. Chinese were conspicuously absent. So, we target Westerners.


So, why Alter Domus? Alter Domus is second home in Latin. It will attract Westerners who know Latin. It certainly has an aura of learned sophistication if you compare it with standard Malaysian company names. It was only much later (a few years) that my client, a professor in Latin, told me that I had the gender wrong. It should be Altera Domus, not Alter Domus. Oh well, what is done is done, and I don't want to change it.


The logo is a spiral. It looks nice, and I always feel that it is a path that we will use to help our clients so that it converges to the nucleus of the spiral. The nucleus is Penang. We will help our clients all the way until it converges at the nucleus. Why a purple color? Well, it looks good, isn't it?


Anyway, I started using Google Pay-Per-Click in 2004. I am not sure, but perhaps only a few people are using that in Malaysia at that point in time. It sure was great, and our client base grew and grew and grew.

 

In 2006, the Malaysian government decided to formalize MM2H. It was a good move because each local immigration office interpreted the MM2H requirements differently. Alter Domus (MM2H) Sdn. Bhd. was formed because there are naming conventions we need to meet. The company is always at the forefront of technology and business strategyyou focus. I foresaw in 2004 that people would be retiring to cheaper countries, and Malaysia is definitely one of them. I foresaw that licensing would be a big deal, and I was quick to get the documents ready, and voila! We are the first license holders with license number MM2H/0001. Our Georgetown office was located at Level 1, 48 Pahang Road, before we moved over to our new office located at 70A, Jalan Zainal Abidin, in February 2024.


Are we proud? Yes definitely. It shows our seniority, experience, and commitment. We make it happen. It is a feat for a company to still thrive after 20 years. We are forward-looking, and instead of complaining, we see how we can go about going the extra mile for our clients. I tell my staff and my clients that Alter Domus does not bank on hope or luck, as in, We hope that you will be successful in your application. Instead, we would say, We go beyond doing our best to help you get it approved. Be careful, diligent, and persistent! Oh yes, it was always legal. No hanky-panky. Never ever.


I was an engineer by training and worked as a plasma etch process engineer until I quit the exhausting job in 2016. I did my Masters in Business Administration from Manchester Business School in 2007 and completed it in 2012. It was really tiring working two jobs (Alter Domus and the factory), with two children (5 and 3 years old), and with MBA studies. Well, what does not kill you makes you stronger. It does make me better, and my time management could not be better. As an IT person, I manage Alter Domus' computer systems, making sure that they are running optimally. I spent some money and effort on digital internet marketing, and it paid off 10 years later. We are all over the internet, and we are proud of it.


As an engineer, I have quite a lot of experience in the factory, and I have improved the work flow and efficiencies. We handled a lot of first-time applications. We did a lot of renewals and "transfers and extensions" for our clients and clients who did not go through us for the first application. It was a busy office. Clients walking in and out of the office. One day, about a decade ago, there was a couple from the UK who came in without an appointment, and Roselind asked them to sit by the sofa. As they came in without an appointment, Roselind had to juggle her clients. She talked to them and then went off to meet another client (who had an appointment) and then back to them again and off again to another client. This couple thanked Roselind and left. A few days later, they came back and applied for the visa. Their comment was that Alter Domus was very busy while our others were not. So, we managed to close the deal. Yay!


Customer service is very important, and emails must be replied to quickly. That was my standard. It was an unfair advantage for me as my English is good and my typing speed is 60 words per minute, but this value is well entrenched in our company. We will go the extra mile. Who we are today is due to our great customer service, quick execution, and vast experience in handling immigration matters.


So, coming back to the company, we hired a lot of people, with a maximum of 13 staff and 3 directors working just before COVID struck. My gut feeling told me that post-COVID will be a boom time for us. We just need to be patient and persevere through all the hardship. COVID did not destroy us because we have a lot of existing clients, and we did renewals and transfers/extends. I helped many clients enter Malaysia during the nasty days of lockdown. We shrank our workforce through voluntary retirement. COVID was a tumultuous time for everyone, but as one US politician said, never let a crisis go to waste. I took this quiet time to improve our internet presence and ramp up our Google reviews.


From 2020 onward, MM2H was suspended; S-MM2H and later eMM2H were introduced and suspended one year later. Now the new MM2H will kick off in July. I have waited for four years...


Next: Will The Future MM2H be more difficult? A Resounding Yes!


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