People are defending the girl who climbed a tree to do her online exams after she was falsely accused by a minister in parliament of lying and posting her experience online in order to seek clout.
Hundreds, including her schoolmates and a teacher, jumped to Veveonah Mosibin’s defense after Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin said that there were no such exams and that the Sabah native from rural Sabanalang Pitas village was faking it when she filmed herself setting up in a tree for internet connection.
“I am Veveonah’s teacher. As a student, her commitment to sciences and academics is extraordinary,” Twitter user @NawalnasaCD said.
“Veveonah was a former student in MRSM TMFS Sandakan. She was brilliant, a top scorer in academics and ethics even though she lived in poverty. How dare he (Zabidi) accuse her of being a mere YouTuber, that liar!” another known as @Wankhairulnizam wrote.
The 59-year-old minister was questioned about improving internet connectivity in rural Sabah when he called out Veveonah’s viral YouTube video. He later apologized for giving “inaccurate information” as the #WeStandWithVeveonah movement began to trend online.
The 18-year-old student had in June filmed herself climbing a hill and a tree near the remote village to find a good spot with optimal internet coverage to do her examinations, which was held virtually due to COVID-19. The 24 Hours On A Tree Challenge video has drawn nearly 800,000 views since it went up.
Last night, the student expressed disappointment over the minister’s statement but appreciated the support she was receiving from others.
“Honestly, I felt really sad and disappointed with this. I really work hard for my online examination for the last few months. And I never expected to go viral too. This time, I’m viral again, but with some bad effects. I don’t know how to deal with negative & bad comments on social media. It hurts,” she wrote online.
“I do forgive all the mistakes people did to me, but still I need to make this fair statement of myself. Thanks to all that still rooting for me and supporting me. (Family, friends, lecturers and fans).”
Veveonah received a scholarship to pursue a bachelor’s degree at the Universiti Malaysia Sabah, or UMS, after the success of the video.
During yesterday’s parliamentary sitting, Zahidi was responding to Penampang, Sabah representative Donald Peter Mojuntin on digital connectivity when the former said that Veveonah had fooled her viewers. Donald had used Veveonah’s case as an example of students struggling with the lack of internet access.
In response, Zahidi said: “We have investigated and found that this YouTuber was not sitting for her exams. Don’t be fooled by YouTubers who make videos for attention.”
“She did not have exams that day, and only made the video to achieve temporary fame. The public was manipulated to feel pity for her,” he added.
Hours after that went live, people criticized him online and defended Veveonah.
“Sorry for the rough language, but the deputy minister has failed to understand the real issue at hand that requires attention – the Internet connection in remote areas is so bad that people have to climb hills and trees to get a signal,” Masidi Manjun, a member of the board of directors at UMS, wrote online.
“As someone from Veveonah’s batch in MRSM Sandakan, I felt upset at the false accusation. Veveonah’s hardship is not something to be polemicized in the parliament,” @Willbryanreyes_ chimed in.
Zahidi then backtracked and published an apology.
“I received inaccurate information when answering the question. I apologize to Miss Veveonah and will correct my statement in the parliamentary sitting on Monday,” it read.
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This article, Teacher, classmates defend ‘tree challenge’ YouTuber falsely accused of faking exam, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.