KUALA LUMPUR (March 20): Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak must explain if Barisan Nasional (BN) used data firm Cambridge Analytica to manipulate Malaysian voters in the 13th general election (GE13), says opposition politician Wan Saiful Wan Jan.
In a statement today, the deputy chairman of strategy and policy of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia referred to Cambridge Analytica’s claims on its website that it helped BN win GE13.
“I was shocked to learn about the relationship between Najib’s campaign with Cambridge Analytica," said Wan Saiful who noted that it is mired in scandal for alleged unethical manipulation of personal data for electoral gains.
“This raises a question in me, on whether Najib and Umno used tactics similar to the American notorious right-wing movements and people like Steve Bannon,” said Wan Saiful. Bannon, a former key adviser to US President Donald Trump, was on the board of Cambridge Analytica.
“Electoral manipulation is grossly unethical and detrimental to our parliamentary democracy, said Wan Saiful, who previously headed the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affiars (IDEAS).
He noted that the website of CA Political, a company related to Cambridge Analytica, says “they supported Barisan Nasional in Kedah State with a targeted messaging campaign highlighting their school improvements since 2008.”
“As head of the GE13 election observation team that was appointed and accredited by the Election Commission of Malaysia, I witnessed how the environment was set up to favour Umno and BN.
“Following inputs from the 300 observers I had on the ground, I concluded that GE13 was only partially free and not fair because of how the environment was conditioned way before polling day itself.
“Now, this revelation about Najib and Umno’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica makes a most worrying read,” said Wan Saiful.
He called on the prime minister to immediately explain “how much was paid to Cambridge Analytica in GE13 and what was the exact nature of their work for Umno”.
More importantly, he said, BN must not resort to divisive and unethical tactics of manipulating right-wing and ethnoreligious sentiments in Malaysia in the run-up to GE14.