Greta, Veveonah and salty grown men

Whatever the reasons it could be, cyber bullying is not okay and netizens would just bite back faster

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THE situation that Veveonah Mosibin (picture) is going through resembles what had happened to Greta Thunberg, although their stories are different.

Thunberg, a 17-year-old Swede, is no stranger to the entire world with her environmental activism.

She took a year off school, travelled around the globe (not by air, of course) and spoke before world leaders about climate crisis.

Her extreme approach had attracted not only fellow environmentalists who had not gotten as much attention as she did, but also those who were not so aware of the crisis before, especially among her own generation.

On the flip side, however, she also received a lot of hate, particularly from men in power, including US President Donald Trump.

Who could forget the tweet from the Trump himself: “So ridiculous.

Greta must work on her anger management problem, then, go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!” (sic)

There were many others who called her a hysterical teenager and mentally ill, just to name a few, while labelling her cause as mere propaganda. There are even memes mocking her “How Dare You” speech.

But things are quieter now as Thunberg is back in school, with the latest news focusing on a documentary, titled “Greta”, about her one-year excursion raising climate awareness.

Locally, our attention is still on 18-year-old Sabahan Veveonah, but with a different tone of news headlines. Veveonah rose to fame in June for her “24 Hours on Tree” YouTube video, which most of us are familiar with by now.

After receiving recognition, awards and most importantly, Internet access for her village Kampung Sepatalang, she is now again the talk of the town, no thanks to Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin.

Last week in the Senate, Zahidi accused Veveonah of faking her “tree-top” exam, that there were in fact no examinations taking place at the time, and the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) student was lying for the sake of YouTube content.

The Padang Besar MP stated in the Dewan Negara that Veveonah was “just a YouTuber wanting to make a name for herself”.

Interestingly, though, Zahidi’s statement came after he was questioned about the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan, not about Veveonah, so we can understand when she said she was confused over the statement.

Maybe, the deputy minister just wanted to spice up what might have been a mundane Dewan Negara session?

Many Malaysians, especially Sabahans, jumped to her defence. Her classmates lashed back at Zahidi, saying that they did indeed have exams that week, complete with attachments of their exam schedule; while netizens lambasted him for not fact-checking, a big no-no for a deputy minister of his portfolio.

Some even went to the extent of making some checks on Zahidi’s questionable education backgrounds.

Zahidi then cited Deputy Finance Minister I and Kudat MP Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri and a senior lecturer at UMS as sources for the false information he received. Although the former apologised, the latter was dead set that Veveonah was a fake and said in a Facebook post that her family was not even living in Kampung Sepatalang.

The Facebook post, which went on a bit longer, however, had been removed. Probably, he could not take the heat from “Team Veveonah”, who were calling the deputy ministers bullies.

On Tuesday, finally, UMS board of directors chairman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun verified that Veveonah had indeed sat for her final semester examinations online in June, putting an end to the question of who is lying and who is not.

On the issue of cyber bullying, however, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh brought Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun into the picture, who was nowhere to be seen as a “young child” getting attacked by two deputy ministers.

“Again, silence from the women minister and her deputy,” Yeoh tweeted.

From the videos that she had posted about her simple kampung life, one can say that Veveonah had never been exposed to such attention, what more negative comments.

Although most people defended her, there were still many who had joined Zahidi and Abdul Rahim in calling her a liar.

Imagine what such negative attention and pressure would do to a young village girl.

We have heard of so many undesirable stories that came out of cyber bullying, pray we will not hear of another one.

Why are grown men, particularly those in power, picking on strong young women? Do they see these girls’ achievements to raise awareness on major issues as failures on their part? Or are they somewhat threatened by the girls’ unleashed potentials?

Whatever the reasons it could be, cyber bullying is not okay and netizens, with their skills and talents, would just bite back faster than you can delete a Facebook post.

Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor at The Malaysian Reserve.


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