18-year-old student Veveonah Mosibin sat for her final semester exams that took place online from 9 to 12 June 2020, according to the chairman of Universiti Malaysia Sabah's (UMS) Board of Directors
In a statement released via Twitter, chairman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said that he met with the deputy vice chancellor and the director of the science foundation centre to find out the truth about the issue.
"After meeting the deputy vice chancellor, the Pusat Asasi Sains director, and Universiti Malaysia Sabah today, I would like to confirm that student Veveonah Mosibin sat for her final semester exams (online) from 9/6 till 12/6/20," he said in his tweet yesterday, 8 September.
Masidi, who is also the former minister of tourism, culture, and environment of Sabah, added that Veveonah was an exemplary student and has been offered to pursue a Marine Science degree at UMS.
He said that as the chairman of the UMS Board of Directors, his word is the official statement as he won't say something that's not factual
When asked if any action will be taken against Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin and Deputy Finance Minister I Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri, both of whom accused Veveonah of lying, Masidi said that he cannot say anything on the matter as he is not their boss.
"To be honest, I too made many mistakes in my life and tried to learn from them so that I could avoid making the same mistakes in the future. One can actually profit from their mistakes if they learn from it," he said.
Prior to this, Abdul Rahim, who is also the Kudat Member of Parliament (MP), had insisted that Veveonah faked everything for publicity
The Kudat MP had taken to his Facebook page to shame the 18-year-old student after Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Zahidi Zainul passed the buck to him.
According to a report in New Straits Times, in his since-deleted post on Facebook, Abdul Rahim said that stands by his claim that Veveonah had faked her situation in her viral video, in which she is seen resorting to climbing a tree for better Internet access, in her village of Kampung Sepatalang in Pitas, in order to sit for an online exam during the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).
He claimed that he personally "investigated" the issue by sending one of his officers to meet with Kampung Bilangau Besar village head Edward Upak and Kampung Sepatalang village head Elwin Madisa in Pitas, who told him that Veveonah and her family were no longer residents of Kampung Sepatalang.
"This was because her father, Mosibin Maraun @ Makrun, began working with the district cooperative development in Pitas town. Her family lives in Pitas now. Pitas has internet service," read his deleted post.
"In truth, she does not have a home in Kampung Sepatalang. So how could this student claim to have studied on top of a tree, whereas she has been living in Pitas town?"
He also reiterated his claim that the video was merely a stunt by Veveonah to gain "publicity and attention" and that he carried out another "investigation" by seeking information from a UMS dean faculty to determine if students were sitting for examinations at the time the video was made.
Veveonah's story about her struggle for better Internet connection for her online exams in June became an issue in September when Deputy Minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin accused her of lying
According to the Deputy Minister, who was speaking in the Dewan Negara, 18-year-old Veveonah lied about having to sit for online examinations because "she didn't have an exam" and wanted to be popular.
"The girl is a YouTuber. She didn't have an exam, we already checked. Which means she is smart. Therefore, we should not so easily believe YouTubers and people who like to incite issues," he had said.
In the Dewan Negara, Zahidi Zainul was actually being questioned about the status of the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP), which was supposed to improve mobile coverage in rural areas in Sabah for others like Veveonah. He, for reasons best known to him, brought up Veveonah's story.
Later the same day, Zahidi Zainul offered his apology to the Sabahan student.
In a statement on 3 September, the Deputy Minister said that he had received "inaccurate information" when he questioned Veveonah's claim that she had to climb a tree and stay on top of it for 24 hours to get better Internet connection for her online examinations in June.
However, the Deputy Minister's accusation had by then already affected Veveonah, who issued a statement, saying she felt "really sad and disappointed" after being accused of lying.
The 18-year-old said that she worked hard for her online examinations.
According to Veveonah, she never expected to go viral when she documented her experience about her struggle for better Internet connection on top of a tree and uploaded a video to her YouTube channel.
"This time, I'm viral again, but with some bad effects," she wrote on her social media account.
Meanwhile, earlier today, 9 September, Khairy Jamaluddin publicly remarked on the issue of the two deputy ministers' statements
According to Khairy, who is the Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister, the Cabinet discussed the issue of Veveonah and took note of the "incorrect and inappropriate" statements by two deputy ministers.
"The Cabinet agrees that the real issue is Internet connectivity and basic infrastructure, particularly in the rural areas. The government will try its best to fix it," he said on his Twitter account.