KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — Former Kedah mentri besar and state Umno chief Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir has denied working with controversial data firm Cambridge Analytica (CA) during the 13th General Election.
“I never knew CA 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,” he was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini.
Mukhriz, who is PPBM deputy president, said the strategies and tactics utilised were his own despite CA’s claims to the contrary.
“None of the strategies and tactics I employed as head of elections for Kedah BN during GE13 were in any way derived from advice from CA. Perhaps they were consulting with the Prime Minister’s Office or BN’s headquarters,” Mukhriz reportedly said.
CA claimed to have supported the Barisan Nasional (BN) Kedah campaign during the 2013 general election with a “targeted messaging campaign” highlighting school improvements since 2008.
The election saw a swing back to BN’s favour with a landslide victory in which 21 out of 36 state seats and 10 out of 15 parliamentary seats returned to the ruling coalition’s hands.
However, Mukhriz admitted that he personally knows CA’s sister company’s SCL Group South-east Asia head, Azrin Zizal, who was his former press officer when he served as international trade and industry deputy minister from 2009 to 2013.
Mukhriz reportedly said he did not extend Azrin’s employment contract.
CA came under pressure after The New York Times and The Guardian newspapers reported that the company had used data obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users without their permission.
The social media platform suspended the firm and hired forensic auditors yesterday to find out if CA had misused the data.
The company’s website lists five office locations in New York, Washington, London, Brazil and Malaysia.