KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin in Dewan Negara responded wildly after he was asked about the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP). He claimed that based on ‘investigations’, Veveonah wasn’t taking an exam and she’s just a YouTuber. However, he quickly posted on Facebook U-turning his claims.
It started after Sabahan Senator Datuk Donald Peter Mojuntin had raised a question regarding the status of the NFCP. It was supposed to improve mobile coverage which would greatly benefit people in rural areas in Sabah — including Veveonah Mosibin.
The Deputy Minister said that there will still be areas with “blind spots”, and that Veveonah wasn’t even taking an exam and she’s just a YouTuber. He also urged everyone not to be easily deceived.
Veveonah Mosibin is an 18-year-old Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) student whom I’ve had the chance of visiting not too long ago. Her video “24 Hours On Tree | Challenge” went viral and resulted in corporations like TM upgrading the Pusat Internet Kampung Pinggan-Pinggan at Pitas Sabah with 300Mbps fibre optic connectivity.
Many netizens on Twitter quickly jumped to defending Veveonah Mosibin following the Deputy Minister’s claims. Several Twitter users including @WongGenHee and @FrznYasmin — who claimed to be Veveonah’s clasmates — say that they know her, have exams together, and are appalled that she’s been accused of lying.
Aku selalu diam je tgk mcm ni... Masalahnya skrg, aku kenal dia, kami satu tempat belajar, exam sama sama, and now kau nk kata dia tipu? !!! And the funny part korg percaya hanya kerana org besar yang cakap....sedih dgn org org mcm ni https://t.co/vpI99QK4z4— MonCher (@FrznYasmin) September 3, 2020
Aku 1 batch dgn veveonah, masa tu memang kami exam. Kami exam selasa-jumaat. Dan video tersebut di upload pada hari sabtu. Dan viral selepas beberapa hari. Semasa viral memang kami sdh habis exam. Sila buat kenyataan yg betul. https://t.co/uaHWXULg0Y— 黄 ݢين Hee (@WongGenHee) September 3, 2020
Even someone who claimed to be Veveonah’s teacher also vouched for her. She also says that her academic commitment and science projects are extraordinary, as Veveonah firmly distinguishes between right and wrong.
Rakaman video pelajar UMS didakwa terpaksa panjat pokok untuk dapat capaian internet bagi menduduki peperiksaan secara dalam talian di Pitas, Sabah sebenarnya sekadar dilakukan hanya bertujuan hiburan dan menaikkan 'viewer' rancangan YouTubenya-Timbalan Menteri pic.twitter.com/HvuxU1SUOW— Mohd Redzuan Abdul Manap (@redzuanNewsMPB) September 3, 2020
Other netizens also commented on the issue. Some criticised the Deputy Minister and the Government for “accusing the poor of not being poor enough to be poor”.
Apparently the girl really did have to sit for examinations. Never trust the minister and current government. They would throw a uni girl under a bus just to make themselves look good. Ffs, coverage is bad and just admit that. Donkeys https://t.co/T8nftA6T3O— not typical. (@JustinTWJ) September 3, 2020
Only in Malaysia, where the rich accuses the poor of not being poor enough to be poor. https://t.co/a6gyF4WyNc— Azfar 🇲🇾♿️ (@Azfarovski) September 3, 2020
In the midst of being a hot topic talked about amongst netizens, Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin posted his Facebook post responding to his claims. He says he received inaccurate information during his response to the supplementary question.
“I wish to apologise to Veveonah Mosibin, and I will make the correction in Dewan Negara this coming Monday. I wish Veveonah Mosibin the best in any field she chooses,” he wrote.
Veveonah’s village is one of the many rural areas in Malaysia with little to no internet coverage. Her content sparked conversations and awareness about the lack of connectivity in rural areas, and hopefully it’ll change as planned—even with this hitch from the Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister.
It was reported that the Minister had caused controversy in Parliament back in 2017 for claiming that the flood disaster in Penang was a form of karma. We have contacted Veveonah for a quote, and will keep you updated for a response. — SoyaCincau