A tweet recently went viral and sparked an online debate regarding whether those living in Peninsular Malaysia need to carry their passport or not when visiting Sabah and Sarawak
On 31 January, Twitter user @mohsyahnizam uploaded a screenshot of a conversation between him and a friend.
He was asked, "Does one have to bring a passport if they're travelling to Sabah and Sarawak by flight, or can they just bring their identification card (IC)?"
@mohsyahnizam captioned the tweet with, "I don't know why but it's 2020 and there are still people who think that Sabah and Sarawak are not part of Malaysia. How sad. But this is really funny."
He then added, "For those who don't know, please guys, you don't need to bring your passport when visiting Sabah and Sarawak because we also use IC."
A number of netizens came forward to explain that despite having a local IC, many people actually do use their passport when flying into East Malaysia
One person said, "You need a passport to go to Sarawak. If you go to Sabah, you can use your IC but they will give you a [90-day] pass. Even a lot of Sabah locals do not know about this, so this is actually a reasonable question. Please enlighten your friend about this."
Another netizen explained, "You can enter with your IC but you can only stay for 90 days. Then, you will have to go to the immigration office to renew your visa. You can extend your stay twice but after that you'll have to leave and come back."
"Then, you'll be able to stay for a maximum of nine months. And that is still considered a social visit. If you want to apply for a longer stay, you'll have to use a passport," they added.
"To enter Sabah, a passport is still required. You will need to leave within 90 days. If you use your IC, it is still permissible but you will have to fill in a white card during your arrival. And you cannot lose the card. You'll have to make a police report if it goes missing. So, it's a bit tedious if you use your IC. Therefore, your friend asked a very relevant question. It's not wrong to ask," said one user.
Besides that, people also weighed in on whether they preferred using their passport or IC when travelling
"It's better to bring your passport so the immigration can just stamp it. If you just use your IC, you can misplace the visa slip and you'll have to make a police report. You'll then have to wait to get a letter first before you can fly back. The question wasn't even funny."
"I actually prefer using a passport. It's much safer. A slip can be easily misplaced or thrown away unnoticed."
"As someone who almost couldn't fly back to East Malaysia because I didn't remember where I put the slip, I agree that the question isn't funny. It's good to carry a passport if you're the careless type. The slip actually just looks like a receipt but it's super important."
As an alternative to the Malaysian passport, a document is issued to Malaysians from West Malaysia travelling to Sabah and Sarawak
According to the Immigration Department Of Malaysia, the Internal Travel Document is valid for a single journey and the holder is allowed to enter and remain in Sabah or Sarawak for not more than three months on a social or business visit pass.
The document can be obtained from all immigration counters at Sabah and Sarawak airport arrival halls. It is free of charge and for travellers under the age of 18, they do not require a parent's or guardian's permission.
In the end, it doesn't really matter if you use your IC or your passport.
What's important is that you reach your destination!