Malaysia seeks Interpol help to find comedian over MH370 joke outrage

Interpol’s assistance is being sought by Malaysia’s police chief to track down Jocelyn Chia, a New York-based, Singapore-born comedian whose joke about the missing MH370 flight has sparked outrage and led to diplomatic apologies. Inspector-General of Police Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani announced the decision to request Interpol’s help in the ongoing investigation.

Chia, a former lawyer believed to have become a US citizen, is being investigated under Malaysian laws relating to intentional insult, provocation, and incitement. The controversy began when she posted a clip from her stand-up routine on social media, using the disappearance of MH370 as a punchline.

The Boeing 777 vanished in 2014 en route to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew members on board. Although believed to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean, the plane has never been found, despite pieces of debris washing up on Indian Ocean and eastern African beaches.

The joke was met with shock and dismay in Malaysia. Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir expressed that Chia demonstrated a “total lack of sensitivity and empathy towards Malaysians and victims’ families”. Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan described Chia’s statements as “horrendous”, and High Commissioner Vanu Gopala Menon labelled her routine at New York’s Comedy Cellar “gratuitously offensive”. Menon added that Singapore “does not condone words or actions that cause harm or hurt to others”, and that Chia, no longer a Singaporean, does not represent their views.

In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Chia defended her stand-up, claiming that the clip had been taken “out of context”. Comedians from Malaysia and Singapore, which gained independence in 1965, frequently engage in light-hearted banter about each other’s countries and idiosyncrasies.

World News


With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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