Earlier today, 3 September, Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin questioned a Sabahan student's claim that she had to climb a tree and stay on top of it for 24 hours to get a better Internet connection for her online examinations in June
According to the Deputy Minister, who was speaking in the Dewan Negara, 18-year-old Veveonah Mosibin lied about having to sit for online examinations because "she didn't have an exam".
Zahidi Zainul said that the University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) student is a YouTuber and wanted to be popular so she made the viral video for entertainment even though she didn't have exams at that time.
"The girl is a YouTuber. She didn't have an exam, we already checked. Which means she is smart. Therefore, honourable president, we should not so easily believe YouTubers and people who like to incite issues," he said.
"She didn't have exams during the time. Just a YouTuber who wanted to be popular. Which means that she was famous for a moment. But the truth is she did not have an exam. She just wanted to do (the video) for entertainment," the Deputy Minister told the Dewan Rakyat.
"Which means that this was a fabrication and sometimes we get lied to because we feel sorry for her."
On 13 June, Veveonah documented her experience on top of a tree and uploaded the video to her YouTube channel, where she had been posting videos during the Movement Control Order (MCO)
The video of Veveonah sitting for her online examinations on top of the tree went viral.
Initially, the student planned to sit for her exams in a hut on top of a hill near her village.
However, the hut collapsed due to strong winds and heavy rain. At the very last minute, she had no choice but to sit on top of a tree in order to obtain Internet access.
Following her viral video, University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) offered Veveonah a scholarship.
It also prompted the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to take action by planning to erect a new telco tower in another village near Kampung Sapatalang.
The Deputy Minister's claim in the Dewan Negara, however, is being contested by netizens who claim to be Veveonah's batchmates
"Please, don't spread slander. She was one of my batchmates for Asasi UMS, she sat for online examination just like the rest of us from 10 to 12 June 2020. She posted the video on 13 June 2020, so that means she did sit for online examination," said a Twitter user who shared the schedule for the exams.
Similarly, other netizens also made the same claim about being Veveonah's classmates.
Following the publication of this SAYS story, Zahidi Zainul released a clarification statement, in which he apologised to the student: