After backlash, deputy minister retracts claim that Sabahan faked taking exam on tree for YouTube views

Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin is pictured in Parliament August 12, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin is pictured in Parliament August 12, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin Sabahan has apologised to Sabahan student Veveonah Mosibin after he alleged she pretended to have taken a university exam on a treetop to popularise her YouTube channel.

Just hours after claiming in the Senate that Veveonah had not even sat for an online examination as seen in the video that went viral in July, Zahidi retracted back his statement by saying he had received incorrect information regarding the incident.

In June, Veveonah posted a video to her YouTube channel showing viewers how she spent 24 hours on top of a tree in the jungle as that was the only way she could reliably connect to the Internet and sit for her Chemistry and Malaysian studies tests then.

In a statement posted on his Facebook, Zahidi said: “Referring to the debate in Dewan Negara earlier today I would like to correct the statement I made about Veveonah that she did not sit for her online exams sitting on a tree.

“I have received inaccurate information in regards to this during the question and answer session. I want to apologise to Veveonah Mosibin and will make a correction in Dewan Negara on Monday.

“I wish Veveonah will continue to thrive in every field she ventures into,” he said.

Earlier in Dewan Negara, Zahidi while answering an additional question from Senator Datuk Donald Peter Mojuntin who asked about what action the government has taken to ensure proper internet access in rural areas citing Veveonah’s case, said the Sabahan student was just a YouTuber and did not sit for an exam.

He said his department had conducted checks and that Veveonah was just trying to make a name for herself and did it for entertainment purposes.

Sabahan student Veveonah Mosibin is seen in this screenshot taken from her YouTube channel. — Picture via YouTube/Veveonah M.
Sabahan student Veveonah Mosibin is seen in this screenshot taken from her YouTube channel. — Picture via YouTube/Veveonah M.

Commenting on the matter, Veveonah confirmed with online news portal Malaysiakini that she did sit for the tests on that day and rejected Zahidi’s remarks.

“What the minister said is not true. I did sit for an online exam. I have never met him or had any communications with him,” she said.

Veveonah said she has proof to show that she took the online exams as shown on the video, adding that this was also confirmed by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).

“I have all the exam schedules and all my friends know about it.

“The university knows about the video and they verified it,” she said.

Veveonah became an overnight sensation after she posted the video showing her climbing a tree to get a better internet connection so she could sit for her online exams smoothly.

She had built a hut on top of a hill specifically for this purpose, but was forced to come up with a new idea when she discovered that the hut was destroyed on the day of her exams.

Her YouTube video spurred MCMC to devise plans for a telecommunications tower in Kampung Bilangau Kecil, Pitas, which will give Veveonah and her fellow villagers improved internet access.

Veveonah told Bernama that she did not expect her YouTube video to go viral, but was grateful that the authorities had taken action to provide better internet services for those living in rural areas.  

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