Malaysia as a whole was amazed when Sabahan teen, Veveonah Mosibin posted a video of herself living on a tree for 24 hours to get WiFi to sit for her exams.
Not only was this feat difficult enough, she also had to overcome several obstacles like heavy rain and hornets. As she persevered, Veveonah managed to prove that even in the forest, you can still get internet connection strong enough to sit through an online exam.
Her dedication and plethora of entertaining yet informative YouTube videos inspired many telecommunication companies to reflect on the lack of internet connectivity in these rural areas.
One such company was TM who decided to take action and upgrade Pitas, the village Veveonah is from, to 300Mbps fibre optic connectivity.
Netizens celebrated this achievement which proved the power of youths and the significance in speaking out. Veveonah, or Veve for short, was deemed an inspiration and a true pioneer towards progress in her village.
However, fast forward to September 3, notably a few months after her video first went viral, Veve and her videos were mentioned in parliament by a deputy minister.
During a recent debate at Dewan Negara regarding internet connectivity and the numerous complaints towards it, Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin, was queried about the poor connectivity in rural areas.
After explaining that the inefficacies were due to blind spots, economic unfeasibility and vandalism and theft of cables and generators, he diverted the subject to Veve.
Take a look at the clip:
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
In the clip, he stated that Veve was just a mere YouTuber and that she didn’t even have online exams to begin with. He claimed that his team had checked the validity of this statement before he made it. He also accused Veve of uploading the video not for the betterment of her village, but simply to gain fame.
It only took a couple of hours for netizens, her schoolmates, and one of her teachers to come to Veve’s defence and provide evidence of her exam timetable that indeed proves that she did sit for an online exam. Understandably, many netizens were angered by the minister’s accusations.
Some believed that even if Veve were lying, her video was still evidence of neglected rural areas. Veve’s classmates and even her teacher came forward to defend the Sabahan YouTuber’s character.
Take a look:
Saya adalah guru kpd Veveonah.
Komitmen akademik&projek sains dia luar biasa kerana veve tegas membezakan hak&temberang batil.
Sy pernah ingatkan 2 tahun lps supaya berhati² di dunia luar & netizen bila keluar maktab demi justifikasi orang² yg sanggup mempersoalkan komitmennya.
— Nawal NCD (@nawalnasaCD) September 3, 2020
Veveonah tu bekas pelajar MRSM TMFS Sandakan k. Pelajar cemerlang top scorer, cemerlang akademik dan sahsiah walau ada kesukaran hidup. Kawan guru di sana cerita nak naik pentas graduasi kasut kopak dua kot 😭. Cikgu yang belikan. Gamak tuduh dia as Youtuber penipu camtu. 😭😭😭
— Wan Khairul Nizam (@wankhairulnizam) 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
In a matter of hours, the minister decided to post his apology on Facebook. He claimed that he received false information which he accepted as truth and used in parliament. He then apologised to Veve and wished her luck in her future endeavours.
Inevitably, before he realised his mistake, the minister’s unkind allegations reached Veve herself. She responded by posting on her Facebook page. She addressed the minister and said she never intended for the video to go viral and that the challenge was all in good fun.
“This time, I’m viral again, but with some bad effects. I don’t know how to deal with negative and bad comments on social media. It hurts,” she said regarding the adverse effects of the minister’s statement.
Later on, she even responded in a phone interview with Channel News Asia where she says she forgives the minister for his remarks.
18 year old Sabahan @veveonah said she forgave deputy communications minister for accusing her of lying .People make mistakes, she said. The video of her climbing a tree for better internet connection to sit for exams went viral during MCO . She’s been an inspiration since pic.twitter.com/6cmf1l87FE
— Melissa Goh (@MelGohCNA) September 3, 2020
The public opinion of Veve has only improved after the incident and many are showing their solidarity and support towards her. Through the power of the internet, Veve has managed to improve her village and expose the neglect that has been taking place for years.
This incident as well as the incident involving PAS lawmaker Nik Zawawi show that fact-checking must happen before leaders proceed to make claims.