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

Swift assistance needed to rehabilitate Hokkaido’s quake-stricken industries

To realize Hokkaido’s post-quake rehabilitation, it is indispensable to rebuild its industries. A half month has passed since the Hokkaido earthquake, which registered the highest level on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7. A power blackout that spread to all parts of the prefecture has been resolved. The No. 1 unit at the Tomato-Atsuma thermal power plant — a facility that plays a central role in the supply of electricity there — has been brought back on line. The government has withdrawn its request for power-saving, and neon lighting has returned to flourishing areas in Sapporo. However, scars from the earthquake have not yet healed. Even if the amount of direct damage, including that caused to roads, rivers and forest land, is calculated alone, the figure exceeds ¥150 billion. There are still many disaster victims in evacuation centers. T


By The Japan News
September 25, 2018

Analysis, Politics

Maldives strongman Abdulla Yameen in shock election defeat

The Maldivian election was watched closely as an indicator of China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean region. Maldives strongman Abdulla Yameen’s hopes for a second presidential term were dashed on September 24 with opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih defeating him in the country’s elections. After a months-long sweeping crackdown on the opposition and a brief state of emergency imposed by the autocratic Yameen, the election on September 23 was preceded by a bitter campaign during which opposition leaders frequently accused the ruling regime of rights abuses and oppression. Several independent news websites reported that after the counting of a majority of the votes, Solih had won more than 58 per cent of the votes to 41 per cent for Yameen. Hours after the emergence of the informal results, Yameen conceded defeat to Solih during a televised news conference, saying: “Mal


By Lamat R Hasan
September 25, 2018

Analysis, Politics

Moon, Trump discuss ‘corresponding measures’ for NK denucelarization

South Korean President Moon Jae-in arrived in New York on Sunday for a bilateral summit with US President Donald Trump that is partly aimed at brokering a second US-North Korea summit. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and US President Donald Trump on Monday discussed possible ways to reward North Korea for its denuclearization measures that will apparently include a second US-North Korea summit. “The leaders agreed to continue communicating closely about corresponding measures,” said Kim Eui-kyeom, a spokesman for South Korea’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. In their bilateral summit held in New York, the leaders of South K


By The Korea Herald
September 25, 2018

Analysis, Politics

Thai seafood giant to address slavery issues at UN

Thailand’s progress in promoting human rights in the fishing industry will be addressed in a panel session on modern slavery and human trafficking at the United Nations General Assembly by seafood giants Thai Union. Darian McBain, global director of sustainability for the Thai Union Group, will address the panel on the topic of “Stepping up Action to End Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking”. “Thailand has made a number of advances on human rights, which should be commended, but there is more work to be done and I believe Thailand has the opportunity b


By The Nation (Thailand)
September 24, 2018

Analysis, Politics

India launches world’s biggest healthcare programme

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India’s ambitious healthcare program on Sunday. Deemed the “world’s largest government-funded healthcare programme”, the scheme will cover half a billion people through its network of hospitals and support services. Speaking at the event, the PM said that the number of beneficiaries is equivalent to the total population of the United States, Canada and Mexico or the entire European Union. “This is a major step taken to fulfil the vision of providing better healthcare facilities to the poorest of the poor and to those standing last in the queue,” the PM said. Following the launch, the PM informed the gathering that the scheme covers diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, kidney and liver problems, diabetes and over 1300 various ailments. “The treatment of the diseases can not only be done in government hospitals but also private hospitals,” said


By Cod Satrusayang
September 24, 2018

Analysis, Politics

Opinion: One Belt, One Road: We must secure our interest

Shah Husain Imam argues in the Daily Star that Bangladesh must put its interests first in joining China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. The ancient Silk Road, of which the Belt and Road Initiative is a gigantic new avatar, dates back to the Chinese Han Dynasty’s westward expansion more than 2100 years ago. The Road derived its name from the lucrative silk trade along the routes through which it branched into what are today the central Asian countries Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, as well as present-day Pakistan and India to the south. These routes eventually spanned 4,000 miles to Europe. Interestingly, silk was regarded as more precious than gold as a commodity in those times as if to convey the misty romanticism with the old world charm about a fine fabric. At any rate, the Silk Road by no means offered silken smooth passage to travellers like Marco P


By Daily Star
September 21, 2018