Zahidi and Abdul Rahim have conspired to turn the Veveonah episode into a comedy of errors highlighting that under the Muhyidin government, Malaysia is fast becoming a kakistocracy

The Deputy Minister for Communications and Multimedia Zahidi Zainul Abidin and the Deputy Finance Minister and MP for Kudat, Abdul Rahim Bakri have conspired to turn the Veveonah episode into a comedy of errors highlighting that under the Muhyiddin “backdoor” government, Malaysia is fast becoming a kakistocracy - a government by the worst persons in the country.

First, we have Zahidi accusing in Senate last Thursday that plucky Sabah student Veveonah Mosibin from Kampung Sapatalang in Pitas of lying when she did a YouTube in June of her 24 hours on top of a tree to sit for an examination because of poor internet connectivity.

He said he had checked and found that Veveonah had pretended to take a university exam on a tree to popularise her YouTube channel

Later the same night, Zahidi apologised for wrongly accusing Veveonah of trying to garner publicity by sitting on a tree to gain internet connectivity for an online examination.

In a Facebook post, he said he did not obtain the correct information when he spoke about Veveonah and apologised to Veveonah. He said he would make a correction in the Dewan Negara the following Monday.

Instead of making a correction on Monday, Zahidi rubbed salt into the wound claiming that what he said the previous Thursday was true and that he got the information from the Deputy Finance Minister who was the Member of Parliament for Kudat which covered Pitas.

Then Abdul Rahim got into the act, and posted on his Facebook the second lie that a report from a local chief that alleged Veveonah did not stay in the Pitas village as she claimed and that an unnamed Universiti Malaysia Sabah “dean” had further disputed the existence of any online examination.

The Bersatu politician questioned the student’s motives for making a YouTube about her experience.

“From my findings, I suspect that there might be a certain motive behind the broadcasting of the video that was uploaded on YouTube and watched by the whole world,” he said in his post.

This led to Veveonah’s brother, Mekvin Mosibin taking to his Facebook to challenge the two deputy ministers who accused her of lying for publicity to visit their Pitas village to witness the backward amenities there.

Mekvin defended his sister's move to post a YouTube video of herself climbing a tree to obtain internet connection for an online examination, criticised Zahidi for targeting Veveonah and invited him to visit their village.

"Try coming into rural villages, come come. But don't choose certain villages only, come to the whole area. Even the most rural of places.

"Try experiencing how it is to surf the internet in the rural village.

"And that is just the internet. We have not talked about water supply, electricity and roads yet."

Commenting on Abdul Rahim’s attempt to discredit Veveonah, Mekvin remarked that Kudat MP was rarely seen in Pitas and suggested he go to the ground.

As for the Bersatu politician's claim that the Mosibin family did not live in the village anymore, Mekvin admitted this was true but claimed they had been "chased out" by the same local village chief who had supplied Abdul Rahim with the information.

"The village chief is not from Kampung Sapatalang, but he chased my father out of the village when my father is from Kampung Sapatalang," he explained.

Then Abdul Rahim deleted his Facebook post.

Then things came to a full circle when the former Sabah Minister for Tourism Masidi Manjun called Veveonah an "exemplary" student after finding out more about her from Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

Masidi, who was appointed as UMS board of directors chairperson last month, said he spoke to both the university's deputy vice-chancellor and Preparatory Centre for Science and Technology.

"I would like to confirm that Veveonah sat for her final semester exams online from June 6 until June 12," said Masidi, who is also the Karanaan state assemblyperson.

He also found out that Veveonah has been offered a marine science degree course at the same university.

Veveonah’s YouTube had been viewed more than 780,000 times, a feat which neither one of the deputy ministers could have achieved.

Veveonah should be commended for her success in highlighting the problem of digitial divide in Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, but instead, the Veveonah episode was turned into a tragic-comedy.

Now, Zahidi is accused of getting his academic credentials from a degree mill.

This is what happens when we have a kakistocracy!

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri