KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3 — Politicians and a teacher of Sabahan student Veveonah Mosibin today have come to her defence after she was accused of pretending to have taken a university exam on a treetop to publicise her YouTube channel.
While Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidi who made the accusation has retracted his statement, support for Veveonah has poured in from politicians and also her former teacher.
Sabah Tourism Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun on his Twitter account said whether or not Veveonah had sat for her exam is not the main concern here.
“The people have a right to enjoy internet coverage throughout the country, whether they are sitting for an exam or not. Internet coverage is needed for a variety of uses, not just exams.
“Sorry if this sounds rude, but the deputy minister failed to understand the real issue that needs to be addressed. There is no internet coverage in the area to the point of having to climb hills and climb trees to get a service,” he posted on Twitter.
Muar MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman criticised Zahidi for making an inappropriate remark.
“If (you) want to help solve an internet access problem, then solve it. Do not belittle the youth and people from rural areas. This is not helping at all,” he tweeted.
Veveonah’s teacher also took to social media in support of her former pupil, describing her as an extraordinary student.
“Her academic commitment and science project are remarkable because veve (Veveonah) firmly distinguishes right and wrong,” she posted on her Twitter account.
She also recalled how two years ago she had warned Veveonah to be careful with the outside world and social media users who may question her commitment.
PKR chief organising secretary Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad took Zahidi to task, saying his remarks may have caused Veveonah emotional distress after his very public character assassination.
“I would like to express my regret over the actions of the Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin, who has given the wrong answer on the Veveonah issue.
“Zahidi’s statement that Veveonah did not have an exam has been picked up by many news outlets which has led to her being condemned on social media. This surely must have caused stress and tarnished her image.
“Now it has turned out that she really did sit for the exam, Veveonah is just a student, not a politician. The deputy minister did not have to attack her character just to deny that internet access in the interior of Sabah is still low,” he said in a statement.
Just hours after claiming in the Senate that Veveonah had not even sat for an online examination as seen in a video that went viral in July, Zahidi retracted his statement, 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.
Zahidi said he apologises to Veveonah, adding that he will make a correction in Dewan Negara on Monday.
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.
She said she had not met with Zahidi and never had any communication with him. She added that she has the proof to show that she took the online exams as shown in the video.
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.