See More on Facebook

Analysis, Politics

Asian nations wary after Cambridge Analytica revelations

Revelations that data mining firm Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data to help its clients in election campaigning has Asian nations concerned.


Written by

Updated: March 22, 2018

While the United States drags its feet on the latest revelations from Cambridge Analytica, political parties across Asia have come out to disavow any links between the data mining firm and their electoral success.

India’s main opposition Congress party said that neither the party nor party president Rahul Gandhi has ever hired the services of the beleaguered company.

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had questioned links between Congress and the company following media reports about the party’s plans to use the firm’s services next year’s elections.

“Will the Congress Party now depend upon data manipulation and data theft to win elections?” Prasad said, according to the Statesman.

Prasad insinuated that Gandhi’s twitter followers were artificially boosted by the firm, a charge the Congress Party denies.

Cambridge Analytica stated on its website that it had supported Malaysia’s ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) in Kedah province resulted in the BN coalition wresting Kedah back from then opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat in 2013.

The Najib Razak administration said on Tuesday that Cambridge Analytica had not been contracted, employed or paid in any way by BN, the Prime Minister’s Office or any part of the government of Malaysia.

A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said any services were provided personally to former BN leader turned opposition politician Mukhriz Mahathir. A former media officer to Mr Mukhriz backed the claim.

“The 2013 election advice for Kedah was provided to Mukhriz personally,” Mr Azrin Zizal said in a statement yesterday.

Mr Azrin, the South-East Asia head of SCL group, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, claimed that he had worked with Mr Mukhriz personally and provided communications and strategy advice for him until 2015, reported The Star newspaper.

Mr Mukhriz, a former menteri besar of Kedah who is now vice-president of Malay nationalist party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, denies ever working with Cambridge Analytica.

More trouble ahead; push back

Editorials in several Asian newspapers pointed to the use of Cambridge Analytica across Asia and said that the scandal wouldn’t deter the company or other similar companies from being employed in future campaigns.

An editorial in the Nation Newspaper said that “it is highly likely that Thailand will see the use of voter profiling through social media in the next general election.”

The Nation cited cyber-security researcher Bhume Bhumiratana who said that the profiling of social media users was nothing new as marketing firms have been doing it for some time.

According to Bhume, it wasn’t a stretch for marketing firms to use the data mined in previous work to target specific sections of the electorate before going to say that for many Facebook users, their data was already likely collected by various apps.

“There is a high likelihood these apps will use our personal data in the wrong way,” Bhume said.

Arthit Suriyawongkul, coordinator of Thai Netizen Network, a leading non-profit campaign that advocates digital rights and liberties, said that profiling could be done easily in Thailand as the country still has no law that protects personal data in general.

However, he saw nothing wrong with political parties campaigning about what their prospective voters want to hear, unless the database is misused or illegally obtained. “There should be no problem if the parties can keep their promises,” he added.

He said he was more concerned that this issue could be used by the Election Commission or the National Broadcast and Telecommunications Commission as a reason for tighter control of social media.

In India, politicians warned social media platforms of repercussions if the platforms were used to influence the country’s electoral process through undesirable means.

Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that any attempt by social media sites, including Facebook, to influence India’s electoral process through undesirable means will not be tolerated, he told reporters in Parliament House complex.

“If need be, strong action will be taken,” he said.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Cod Satrusayang
About the Author: Cod Satrusayang is the Managing Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Politics

10 US senators criticise Suu Kyi for representing military’s interest

Suu Kyi is in the Hague defending Myanmar from genocide accusations. Ten US Senators have severely criticized Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi for representing the military’s interest before the International Court of Justice and defending the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingyas and other ethnic minorities. “Representing the Burmese military’s interest before The Hague and defending the mass atrocities committed against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities would undermine what remaining credibility you have before the international community, including in the US Congress,” said a letter to Suu Kyi issued on December 9. The Senators said a defense of the Burmese military at this high-profile international forum is also an affront to the inclusive, multi-cultural and democratic Burma that she claims to champion. They said when Buddhist nationalism is on the rise in


By Daily Star
December 13, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Japan: Koizumi offers no concrete plan on coal

The new environment minister needs to offer better ways to tackle climate change.  During a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday, Shinjiro Koizumi, the Environment Minister did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation, for which construction of new plants is currently underway in Japan, during a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday. “I am afraid I cannot share new development on our coal policy today,” Koizumi said at the ongoing 25th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate


By The Japan News
December 13, 2019

Analysis, Politics

India, China step up the wooing but Rajapaksa in no hurry to align Sri Lanka

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will try to balance the competing interests of China, India in the region. The conversation in regional capitals after the emphatic win of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the Sri Lankan elections last month centres around a central question: Will he manage to pull a Sheikh Hasina on India and China? The reference, of course, is to the Bangladesh Prime Minister who many believe has managed to successfully push her country’s interests by balancing the competing strategic ambitions of China and India in South Asia. And Rajapaksa knows a thing or two about protecting what he believes are his country’s core interests. After all, he braved the Western world’s intense criticism – and India’s acute discomfort given its large domestic Tamil population – of the means adopted by him as Defence Minister in his brother and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s


By Ishan Joshi
December 12, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Nepal moves up in Human Development Index but still lags behind in South Asia

Nepal’s human development index of 0,579 indicates that people are living longer, are more educated and have greater incomes, according to the Human Development Report. Despite global progress in tackling poverty, hunger and disease, a ‘new generation of inequalities’ indicates that many societies are not working as they should and Nepal is not an exception, according to a new human development report released on Tuesday. The old inequalities were based on access to health services and education whereas the new generation of inequalities is based on technology, education and the climate, according to the United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report. “Previously, we talked about wealth as a major driver for inequality. Now, countries like Nepal are in another inequality trap and that concerns


By The Kathmandu Post
December 12, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Aung San Suu Kyi denies genocidal intent on Rohingya

She urges world court to let Myanmar justice system work. Denying that Myanmar had genocidal intent in its treatment of the Rohingya people, its de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday (Dec 11) urged the International Court of Justice in The Hague to let her country’s justice system run its course. “Can there be genocidal intent on the part of a state that actively investigates, prosecutes and punishes soldiers and officers who are accused of wrongdoing?” she asked at the world court, while presenting her opening statement on the second day of public hearings related to Gambia’s lawsuit alleging that Myanmar had breached the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Carefully avoiding the word “Rohingya”, Ms Suu Kyi said Gambia has given “an incomplete and misleading factual picture”. She referred in her half-


By The Straits Times
December 12, 2019

Analysis, Politics

Power transition after Apec summit

Mahathir open to stepping down after APEC summit. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the world’s oldest prime minister, has promised to hand over power to anointed successor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in spite of new sexual assault allegations against him. Dr Mahathir, 94, said he would not hand over before a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) countries that Malaysia is to host in November 2020, but could be ready after that. “I made a promise to hand over and I will, accepting that I thought that a change immediately before the Apec summit would be disruptive. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m stepping down and I’m handing the baton to him (Anwar). If people don’t want him, that is their business, but I will do my part of the promise… irrespective of whatever allegation. I made my promise, I keep my promise, ” he said in an interview w


By The Star
December 11, 2019