After Bullying A Female Student Who Took Exam On A Tree, This Ministry Wants To Tax Online Shopping Worth RM18.6 Billion

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Sep 09 2020
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According to Statista, the e-commerce market in Malaysia is worth a staggering US$4.455 billion in 2020. That’s US$4,455,000,000 or RM18,567,000,000 based on today’s currency exchange. Yesterday (Sept 8), Zahidi Zainul Abidin, the deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Ministry said the government plans to slap a new service tax for online shopping.


The proposal is to charge 20 sen for purchases between RM200 and RM1,000, with an additional 20 sen for the next RM1,000 worth of purchase. The ministry was quick to explain that the new tax is not like GST (Goods and Services Tax), the previous unpopular tax regime that had brought down the corrupt Najib Razak administration of Barisan Nasional in the 2018 General Election.


As part of its psychology game, the ministry said the service tax is only 0.02% or 20 sen, as if the new tax rate isn’t a big deal. Well, if the amount is insignificant at all, why does the government want to tax at a time when people are losing jobs or suffering pay cuts? In truth, based on the RM18.567 billion online revenue, the government could potentially collect tens of millions of dollars in taxes.

Online Shopping

Make no mistake. The proposed 0.02% service tax is a mini version of GST. It is just the beginning. First, they start with 20 sen to get the ball rolling. Later, when the people are comfortable and accepted it, the rate will be increased. After the disastrous 6% GST introduced by crooked former PM Najib, the backdoor Muhyiddin government has gotten smarter.


The plan is to deliberately start it small, and gradually increases the rate. Psychologically, even if the tax rate is increased from 0.02% to 0.1% or from RM0.20 to RM1, consumers may not feel the pain. After all, they have been happily paying 20 sen for a plastic bag during grocery shopping. What can you buy with RM1, goes the potential argument from the government.


But it’s actually an increase of 5 times from 0.02% to 0.1%, mind you. If they collect RM10 million tax now, the amount will balloon to RM50 million. That’s the game plan to quietly suck up money from the people. And that RM50 million service tax will double to RM100 million by 2024 even if the rate remains as the e-commerce market is projected to grow to US$8.635 billion (according to Statista).

Tree Girl - Deputy Minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin Bully Sabah Student Veveonah Mosibin

The burning question is – does this government deserve collecting the new service tax? We’re not talking about the bloated 72 ministers in the Cabinet that need to be fed and paid every month. We’re also not talking about PM Muhyiddin’s boastful proclamation that the country has enough cash, even after splashing RM290 billion economic stimulus packages.


We are referring to Zahidi Zainul Abidin, the same deputy minister who irresponsibly accused Veveonah Mosibin, a University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) student, of faking her Internet access problem in a YouTube video which went viral. Mr Zahidi had labelled the poor student as a publicity seeker who made the video to gain “attention and publicity”.


In June, 18-year-old Veveonah from the state of Borneo earned the nickname “tree girl” after a video of her climbing a tree in rural area to gain Internet access so that she could sit for her online examinations during the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO). The intention of the video was to highlight how people of Sabah suffer poor Internet connectivity.

Tree Girl - Veveonah Mosibin

Her parents had encouraged her to improve their livelihoods through education. Not only her 11-minute video – titled “24 Hours on Tree Challenge” – caught the attention of the Governor of Sabah, who made donations to her, she was offered a scholarship by her university in June to complete her Foundation in Science programme and a bachelor’s degree.


Telekom Malaysia (TM) eventually visited the student from Kampung Sapatalang in Pitas (a rural area almost 140km from Kota Kinabalu and requires a 3-hour drive) and upgraded the internet speed of Pitas district in Sabah with 300-Mbps fibre optic connectivity. TM said that they were inspired by the fighting spirit and determination shown by Veveonah.


Thanks to the Sabah girl’s sensational YouTube video, Pitas becomes the first “Pusat Internet (Internet Center)” in Sabah to enjoy fibre Internet at such speed. Still, she needs to travel about 11km from her village, Kampung Sapatalang, to visit the Pusat Internet Kampung Pinggan-Pinggan. That speaks volumes about how poor Internet connectivity has been plaguing the Borneo state for decades.

TM Inspired By Veveonah To Upgrade Internet Center To 300Mbps

In her hunger for education, Veveonah climbed up a tree and crafted a wooden platform across the tree branches after her “hut” was blown down by heavy rain and strong winds. Armed with a mosquito net, power bank, water and meals of rice wrapped in leaves, she completed her exam. She slept in the tree and almost got bitten by a hornet. And she scored a CGPA of 3.50.


Despite her inspiring story, which was highlighted by BBC News, Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin falsely accused Veveonah of pretending to take her university exam on a tree to popularise her YouTube channel. The despicable deputy minister made the wild and fake allegations in his debate in Dewan Negara (Upper House of Parliament).


Zahidi later apologised, conveniently blamed his officers for feeding him “incorrect information”. But the damage had been done. As a result of the ministry’s incompetence, the poor 18-year-old student, who had never imagined her video would go viral, attracted negative comments and attacks on social media from people who had wrongly believed the deputy minister’s false claims.

Zahidi Zainul Abidin

Veveonah said she was hurt and sad as she did not know how to handle the public humiliation. But it was just the beginning. The clueless and incompetent Deputy Minister Zahidi appeared to be unhappy over a fierce public backlash. While it was definitely his mistake, he probably felt his ego was being challenged. So he did the next best thing – pointed his finger at someone else.


The Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister said he was told by Kudat Member of Parliament – Abdul Rahim Bakri – that Veveonah Mosibin did not sit for an online exam. Zahidi also said that Mr. Rahim claimed to have received the information from the student’s lecturer. Suddenly, Rahim, who is Deputy Finance Minister, also attacked the student for faking the lack of Internet connection.


Yes, only under the backdoor government of Muhyiddin that people see two powerful deputy ministers attacked an innocent female student. Instead of investigating, improving and solving the Internet problems in Sabah, which is long overdue, deputy ministers Zahidi and Rahim shamelessly bullied a girl. The only harm Veveonah had done was exposing the pathetic Internet coverage.

Abdul Rahim Bakri

Unable to counter fierce public criticisms, Deputy Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri was forced to delete his Facebook post. Not only were both deputy ministers incredibly arrogant, they also did not understand at all the key problem faced by Veveonah and the people of Borneo. Instead of focusing on the real issues, they resorted to cheap politics – cyber-bully – a village girl.


Finally, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Board of Directors chairman Masidi Manjun verified that Veveonah Mosibin did indeed sit for her final semester examinations via the Internet from 9-12 June, 2020. In fact, the university concluded that Veveonah Mosibin was an exemplary student and has been offered to pursue a Marine Science degree at UMS.


Therefore, how could the disgraced deputy minister Abdul Rahim Bakri explain his early insistence that a UMS faculty dean had informed him that the university did not conduct any online examination at all during the period Veveonah recorded her viral video? The answer is obvious – the Kudat MP, supposedly people’s representative, had lied to cover his incompetence.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah UMS

Tree Girl Veveonah Mosibin Offered A Scholarship by UMS

Exactly why should consumers pay the proposed service tax for online shopping after all the bullying and incompetence stunts demonstrated by both deputy ministers? If they can’t even look at the issue objectively and maturely, let alone fix it, what assurance is there that the tax collected would indeed be used to improve communications infrastructure, as claimed by the clueless but combative Zahidi?


Had the incident taken place in the U.S., Veveonah would have been invited to the White House to meet the president and she would be praised throughout the country. The half-past-six deputy ministers who bullied her with fake accusations would be fired on the spot, if they did not resign voluntarily. But in Malaysia, the backdoor Muhyiddin government treasures the morons instead.



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