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31st March 2018
We have been a keen observer of the Malaysian political scene and took a special interest in the whistle blowing saga of Cambridge Analytica (CA) and its parent company, a private UK intelligence company, Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) by one Christopher Wylie. The Observer on 17 Mar 18 reported Wylie describing how harvested data from Facebook accounts were shared by a research outfit with CA, a company notorious for it clandestine electioneering work for their clientele. A few days later, The Channel 4 News blew the lid further, showing secretly filmed head of CA, Alexander Nix, boasting of using dirty tricks to swing elections, including creating sex scandals and using fake news to sway voters.
In explaining to The Observer how the covert operation worked, Wylie who described CA as a ‘full service propaganda machine’ said, “It was a grossly unethical experiment, because you are playing with an entire country, the psychology of an entire country without their consent and awareness and not only are you playing with the psychology of an entire nation, you are playing with the entire psychology of a nation in the context of the democratic process”. Wylie also said that a special team would create content “which then injects it into the internet. Blogs would be created, websites created, whatever it is we think that this target profile will be receptive to, we will create content on the internet for them to find and then they see that and they click it and they go down the rabbit holes until they start to think something differently”.
The revelation by Chris Wylie of such covert and corrupt practices is shocking beyond words. It is a psychological warfare using illegally mined data from Facebook without consent, and it is illegal. Considering the fact as has been revealed that CA/SCL had operated in Malaysia during the GE13 and had helped BN won the state of Kedah through the school improvement programme; and the alleged 2 million dollar project proposal to be funded by Petronas to influence voters in the Sarawak election in 2016; one cannot help but wonder what role is CA/SCL engaged to partake in this GE14. Consider also the fact that SCL already has an established office in Kuala Lumpur.
With a significant number among us who had served in the intelligence service, Patriot wonders if CA/SCL has a dark hand in the sudden appearance of the #UndiRosak campaign, the hashtag used by campaigners as a platform to express unhappiness with election candidates, especially Dr Mahathir. It has since been described as a movement for the youths to dissuade them from voting or to nullify their votes. The prime mover of the campaign is Maryam Lee, known more for her feminist activism and frequent postings on women’s issues such as Women’sMarch, WanitaBangkit, in her Facebook postings. Ms Lee had never been known to be vocal in mainstream politics. How then could a pleasant lady suddenly transformed into the national scene and launched a captivating rebellious campaign targeting the youths? How did it become a movement of dissent against Mahathir? It is just not possible. Furthermore, the postings in Maryam Lee’s Facebook page hardly get any ‘shares’, while the ‘likes’ do not get beyond double digits. In her Facebook, the hashtag, #UndiRosak, was used once. Unseen hands must have used this and turned it into a phantom campaign and a phantom movement, using all the illegal and corrupt practices as described by Chris Wylie.
Since the whistle blowing and the expose against CA/SCL, authorities in the US, UK, several countries in Europe, and Singapore have started investigation against Facebook Inc, CA and SCL for possible violation of personal data usage. In Malaysia we have our Personal Data Protection Act 2010. Patriot would like to repeat our call for an immediate investigation against the culprits and the violators of the Act, and their accomplices.
BG Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd)
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan