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 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 defend Veveonah Mosibin following the Deputy Minister’s claims. Several Twitter users including @WongGenHee and @FrznYasmin—who claimed to be Veveonah’s classmates—say that they know her, have exams together, and are appalled that she’s been accused of lying.
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.
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”.
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.