I’ve always liked the format of YouTube, sharing things for free, which is a nice exchange between people. – Bo Burnham, American comedian

Recently, a YouTuber from Sabah made the headlines after a video —showing her on a tree in the jungle to get the best internet connection so she could sit for her examinations — went viral.

The YouTuber is Veveonah Mosibin, an 18-year-old Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) student from Kampung Sapatalang, Pitas, Sabah.

Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin told the Dewan Negara that Veveonah shared the video just to garner views on her YouTube channel and did not have online exams the day she recorded the video.

The YouTuber later took to Facebook to complain that the deputy minister’s remarks had put her in a bad light. She explained she had worked hard to prepare for the online examination for months.

“I don’t know how to deal with these negative and bad comments on social media. It hurts,” she wrote on Facebook.

 Zahidi later apologised for his bungled reply in the Dewan Negara; he said he had received “inaccurate information”.

Despite his apology, Sabah Wanita MCA chairman Dr Pamela Yong still took him to task for his remarks.

She said Zahidi should be ashamed for picking on Veveonah who had used an innovative approach to highlight issues to the government.

The student’s real purpose, said Yong, was to highlight the poor digital infrastructure and interconnectivity in Sabah.

The Sabah Wanita MCA chairman added that even if the complaint was written on a toilet paper, it was still Zahidi’s duty and responsibility to look into it.

The blunder provides an important lesson to the deputy minister and other members of the federal and state cabinets. They should look before they leap and do their homework first and check all facts before making any public comments. 

Like Sabah, Sarawak also has poor digital infrastructure and interconnectivity in its rural and remote areas. That is why the government plans to have its own mobile internet provider. It is part of a long-term plan to expand internet network coverage throughout the state.

Assistant Minister of Utilities Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi has pointed out that Sarawak cannot depend on existing telecommunications companies (telcos) as their priorities are wide and not focused entirely on the people of Sarawak.

During a meeting with Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg requested for a Universal Service Provision (USP) licence for Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) to provide internet service in rural areas.

Abang Johari also urged Saifuddin to expedite the application.

He revealed that the state government had built some 170 telco towers in the rural areas but no telco wanted to operate there.

Abang Johari said if Sarawak had its own mobile internet provider, the government would operate in the rural areas.

He assured the mobile internet service to be provided by SMA would be subsidised by the Sarawak government and be affordable to the rural folk.

This is, indeed, sweet news to Sarawakians who live in the rural areas.

We hope Saifuddin and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would look into this request by Sarawak.

Why do people become YouTubers? Some do so for the money while others, like Veveonah, probably do it as a hobby to keep themselves happy and creative in their spare time.

Actually, life as a YouTuber is not a bed of roses. You can earn a lot of money if you have a lot of followers.

But a YouTuber has to work long hours each day – as least six hours on each video. One-third of the YouTube stars spend at least eight hours on each video.

According to a report carried by fortune.com in 2018, 96.5 percent of all those trying to become YouTubers will not make enough money off advertising to crack the US poverty line.

The report was based on an analysis by Mathias Bartl, a professor at Offenburg University of Applied Sciences in Offenburg.

Bartl said breaking into the top three percent of most viewed channels could bring in advertising revenue of about $16,800 a year, a bit more than the US federal poverty line of $12,140 a year.

Malaysian YouTuber couple, M Sugu and M Pavithra, received RM8,700, their first earning, from Google, thanks to the popularity of their channel “Sugu Pavithra” earlier this year. The couple shares local recipes which they personally prepared.

In South Korea, many Mukbang YouTubers have come under fire for failing to provide information about paid advertisements. A Mukbang is an online eating show in which the host consumes large amounts of food while interacting with the audience.

Netizens are unhappy the products introduced in some of the YouTubers’ videos were not purchased with their own money. The netizens criticised the YouTubers for only stating the paid advertisement status in the description box on YouTube.

We expect the emergence of more YouTubers from Sarawak when the internet issue in rural Sarawak is resolved.

Many rural folk in China are already sharing videos on their culture, lifestyles and food on the YouTube channel with the world. I wonder what future YouTubers from rural Sarawak will share with us and the world.