Growing Support for Veveonah amid Bullying by Ministers

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A coalition of university student unions has today urged federal deputy ministers against bullying university students over their complaint on the lack of basic facilities such as internet connectivity.

The unions from three local universities further defended Sabahan student Veveonah Mosibin, saying the Putrajaya should instead focus on efforts to resolve the connectivity issue rather than disputing the allegations levelled against it.

“We would like to express concerns about the government’s narrative and seriousness in resolving and upgrading internet access, especially through the feedback made through the answer,” they said.

“We would like to express our regret and concern over the government’s commitment to solve this internet access problem, especially for the students in rural areas.”

The statement was directed towards Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin and Deputy Minister of Finance I Abdul Rahim Bakri for their remarks against the Universiti Malaysia Sabah student.

It was co-signed by the student unions from International Islamic University Malaysia, University of Malaya, and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

The student unions said the government should take effective and proactive actions immediately to ensure that all students enjoy internet connectivity.

“Many universities are likely to continue with online classes until early next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which requires social distancing.

“The Ministry of Higher Education should give serious attention to this matter as it involves 1.3 million students throughout the country,” they added.

Similarly, the student wings of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) parties PKR, DAP and Parti Amanah Negara also made the same call for Putrajaya to not bully Veveonah.

Mahasiswa PH said the accusations against Veveonah was merely to cover the weakness of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government who it claimed had failed to address the issue of internet connectivity in rural areas.

“The arrogance and ignorance by the PN government in this issue is a clear sign why they should be rejected in the upcoming Sabah state election and as well in the next general election,” it said in a statement.

Zahidi has come under fire for his remarks in the senate last week suggesting Veveonah was an attention seeker and had faked having to take an online examination in a tree in rural Sabah due to poor internet connectivity.

TMI

The Padang Besar MP from Umno has since apologised and yesterday named Kudat MP Abdul Rahim from Bersatu as his source of information.

Abdul Rahim continued to take a defensive stance, insisting his investigation showed no examinations were conducted online in June and cited a Universiti Malaysia Sabah faculty member as his source.

He added that Veveonah is not a resident of Kampung Sepatalang as she claimed, though the 18-year-old has explained that she was staying there temporarily during the movement control order to help her family.

She has also publicly shared her examination schedule on social media to back her assertion of university exams between June 9 and June 12.

Abdul Rahim has since removed his Facebook posting on Veveonah.

Earlier, several opposition MPs have slammed Kudat MP Abdul Rahim Bakri over his now-deleted Facebook post accusing Sabahan student Veveonah Mosibin of faking an online university examination.

Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman and Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh decried Rahim’s post as a form of bullying, with Yeoh questioning Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun’s silence over the matter.

“If you don’t recognise it, this is actually cyberbullying in action. By two deputy ministers. Against a young child.

Shafwan Zaidon

“Again, silence from the women minister and her deputy,” she said in a Twitter post today.

Syed Saddiq also called out Rahim for sidestepping the main issue, which was the lack of internet connectivity in Sabah, urging for Veveonah to be left alone.

“Enough bullying the youths. From wasting time and energy in belittling Veveonah, it’s better to focus on expanding the internet network in Sabah.

Reuters

“Don’t mess with the youths!” said the former youth and sports minister in a Twitter post.

Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil also slammed Rahim over the matter, questioning why the Kudat MP did not take any initiative to meet Veveonah instead of accusing her online.

Former education minister Maszlee Malik has joined those in calling out the disparaging remarks by Zahidi and Abdul Rahim of Veveonah.

The Simpang Renggam MP took to Twitter to question the deafening silence of the Higher Education Ministry and Education Ministry over the matter.

Shafwan Zaidon

“Where are MOHE and MOE when a STUDENT is being bullied by deputy ministers a.k.a your colleagues?” he posted on Twitter, using the two ministries’ initials.

He also tagged the Twitter accounts of Higher Education Minister Datuk Noraini Ahmad and Education Minister Radzi Jidin.