Mukhriz Mahathir, former media officer accuse each other of lying over Cambridge Analytica
KUALA LUMPUR: The Southeast Asian head of Cambridge Analytica’s parent company SCL Group on Wednesday (Mar 21) said that the former chief minister of Kedah, Mukhriz Mahathir, had gained from the company’s advice to win the state in Malaysia’s last general elections.
Mr Azrin Zizal said in a statement that claims by Mr Mukhriz on Tuesday denying he had any contact with Cambridge Analytica were false.
“Mukhriz Mahathir’s statement yesterday about Cambridge Analytica’s advice for the Kedah campaign in 2013 contained outright lies,” said Mr Azrin, who was also Mr Mukhriz’s former media officer.
“Perhaps – while Mukhriz continues to deny my work for him and deny the benefits he gained from the advice I provided to him from Cambridge Analytica/SCL Group for Kedah during the 2013 general election – he will also deny Kedah winning an extra six parliament seats, winning over the state and him becoming Chief Minister?” he added.
“The 2013 election advice for Kedah was provided to Mukhriz personally,” Mr Azrin stated. “It is time for Mukhriz to stop deliberately distorting the facts to save himself, and come clean.”
Mr Azrin also stressed that “at no time” had Cambridge Analytica or SCL Group “ever worked for or been paid by” ruling coalition Barisan Nasional or “any part of the government of Malaysia”, echoing a statement issued by Malaysia’s Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday.
Mr Mukhriz found himself caught up in the controversy after it was reported that Cambridge Analytica’s division, CA Political, stated on its website that it had “supported Barisan Nasional in Kedah state with a targeted messaging campaign highlighting their school improvements since 2008”.
Mr Mukhriz was deputy chairman of Barisan Nasional Kedah at the time, going on to become chief minister in 2013 before he was sacked from the ruling party and joined the opposition.
The son of former prime minister and current opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad, Mr Mukhriz also denied on Tuesday that Mr Azrin was employed by him “as a representative of a company such as SCL Group or Cambridge Analytica”.
He also stated that Mr Azrin was no longer his media officer when he became chief minister of Kedah.
On Wednesday, however, Mr Azrin refuted this.
“I worked for Mukhriz personally and provided communications and strategy advice for him until 2015, including during the 2013 general election, and afterwards when he became chief minister,” he said.
CLAIMS ARE “ABSOLUTELY DELUSIONAL”: MUKHRIZ
In response, Mr Mukhriz told Channel NewsAsia that he stood by his previous statements and that Mr Azrin was “clearly lying”.
“I would be interested to see how he is going to prove that he was my employee when I was the Kedah MB (chief minister), when every media representative in Kedah knows that my media officer while I was MB was and still is Mohd Fisol Jaafar,” he said.
“His claims that BN’s win in Kedah and my subsequent appointment as MB was all his doing is absolutely delusional,” Mr Mukhriz added.
“He should also be reminded that it was his employer CA themselves who claimed in their website that they helped BN Kedah. I never admitted to knowing anything about that.”
Mr Mukhriz had said on Tuesday that the claims made against him were intended to “divert attention away from the possible use of illegal campaign tactics as admitted by Cambridge Analytica for BN”.
His comments came after the opposition coalition which he now belongs to had asked Prime Minister Najib Razak to explain what role Cambridge Analytica played in the last general elections, and if unethical and manipulative tactics will be employed in the next polls which are due by August.