PMO: Mukhriz used UK firm for GE13 ‘manipulation’, not us

PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional (BN) has denied using a UK-based firm to help the coalition in manipulating personal data for electoral gains in the last general election (GE13).

It said it was PPBM deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir who had benefited from such actions.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued a statement today, saying that “neither Cambridge Analytica nor its parent company, SCL Group had ever – now or in the past – been contracted, employed or paid in any way by BN, the PMO or any part of the government of Malaysia.

“However, the SCL Group country representative today confirmed to the government that Cambridge Analytica’s advice on the 2013 general election was provided personally to Mukhriz.

“The SCL representative also confirmed that he reported directly to Mukhriz, not BN or the government,” the PMO said.

The PMO was responding to PPBM’s strategy and policy deputy chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan who had asked if BN had used the services of Cambridge Analytica.

This followed an explosive documentary by Britain’s Channel 4 on the company’s practices worldwide.

The documentary, among others, secretly recorded top executives from the company claiming they could use bribes, former spies and sex workers to entrap politicians around the world. The company also said it had done election work in Malaysia.

Wan Saiful referred to a company related to Cambridge Analytica, which claimed on its website that it had helped Najib win the last general election.

According to CA Political, it helped BN win in Kedah in the last polls with a “targeted messaging campaign highlighting their school improvements since 2008″.

In 2013. Mukhriz was made Kedah menteri besar after helping BN wrest the state from PAS, which had governed the state since 2008.

“Electoral manipulation is grossly unethical and detrimental to our parliamentary democracy.

“I hope that Najib did not intentionally bring Cambridge Analytica into Malaysia to exploit racial sentiments and create racial divide here for his short-term political benefits,” Wan Saiful had said in a statement issued earlier today.

On Monday, Mukhriz was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying that he “never knew Cambridge Analytica nor ever engaged them to do any work”.

“If they claim to have been involved with Kedah in GE13, I was not aware of it.

“None of the strategies and tactics I employed as head of elections for Kedah BN in GE13 were in any way derived from advice from Cambridge Analytica.

“Perhaps they were consulting with the Prime Minister’s Office or Barisan Nasional’s headquarters,” he told Malaysiakini.

In a Twitter response after the PMO’s statement, Mukhriz categorically denied any contact with Cambridge Analytica at any time.

He also said Azrin Zizal was his media officer from 2009 to 2013 at the international trade and industry ministry (Miti) when he was the deputy minister.

“He was not employed by me as a representative of SCL Group or Cambridge Analytica, and he was no longer my media officer when I became Kedah MB.”

Azrin is head of the South-east Asia division of SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica.