*MEDIA STATEMENT BY WAN SAIFUL WAN JAN, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN STRATEGY AND POLICY, PPBM*
20 March 2018
*Najib must explain if he manipulated GE13 and assure Malaysians he will not use manipulative tactics in GE14*
Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Tun Razak must explain if he used Cambridge Analytica to manipulate voters in GE13 and whether he is using unethical manipulation techniques in the upcoming GE14.
Cambridge Analytica claims on their website that they helped Najib win GE13. The website of CA Political, a company related to Cambridge Analytica, says they “supported Barisan Nasional (BN) in Kedah State with a targeted messaging campaign highlighting their school improvements since 2008. Barisan Nasional won Kedah back from Pakatan Rakyat in the 13th General Election and walked away from a successful campaign. With wins in 21 out of 36 state seats and 10 out of the 15 parliamentary seats in the state, BN enjoyed a landslide victory.”
Cambridge Analytica is a company mired in scandal for alleged unethical manipulation of personal data for electoral gains. They have been accused of extracting the personal data of up to 50 million Facebook users without consent, for use in the American presidential campaign to help Donald Trump by targeting adverts to specific users in a manipulative way, exploiting their “inner demons”.
Cambridge Analytica’s investor include Robert Mercer, a billionaire known for his financial contribution to Donald Trump’s right-wing campaign and other American right-wing organisations. Steve Bannon, a former key adviser to Trump and a person notorious for his right-wing views, was on the Board of the company.
I was shocked to learn about the relationship between Najib’s campaign with Cambridge Analytica. 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. 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.
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 Barisan Nasional. 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.
Najib should immediately explain how much was paid to Cambridge Analytica in GE13 and what was the exact nature of their work for UMNO. More importantly, no matter how desperate Najib is to stay in power, he must not resort to divisive and unethical tactics of manipulating right-wing and ethnoreligious sentiments in Malaysia. Do not let your desperation to stay in power destroy the future of this country and our parliamentary democracy.
For more statements from Wan Saiful, please see www.facebook.com/wansaifulwanjan