Singapore FM condemns Jocelyn Chia’s MH370 joke, apologises to Malaysians

Photo Courtesy of Flickr (International Institute for Strategic Studies)

Singapore’s Foreign Minister, Vivian Balakrishnan, criticised stand-up comedian Jocelyn Chia on Twitter for her insensitive and offensive remarks about Malaysia during a recent performance. Chia, a Singapore-born performer, made jokes about Malaysia’s development and the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, sparking outrage in Malaysia.

“I am appalled by her horrendous statements. She certainly does not speak for Singaporeans. We treasure our ties with family and friends in Malaysia and are sorry for the offence and hurt caused to all Malaysians,” Balakrishnan tweeted in response to a post from Malaysian MP Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman.

Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia, Vanu Gopala Menon, also condemned Chia’s comments and apologised to Malaysians in a separate statement. He added that Chia is no longer a Singaporean and her remarks do not reflect the views of the Singaporean government, reported Malay Mail.

“I am appalled by the gratuitously offensive comments made by stand-up performer Jocelyn Chia. The Singapore Government does not condone words or actions that cause harm or hurt to others and Chia, who is no longer Singaporean, does not in any way reflect our views. I sincerely apologise to all Malaysians for her hurtful remarks,” Menon said in a statement on the Singapore High Commission’s Facebook page.

Related news

Menon emphasised the close relationship between Singapore and Malaysia, stating that Chia’s comments undermine the trust and friendship shared by both countries.

Jocelyn Chia, now a naturalised US citizen, posted a video clip of her performance on Instagram, where she joked about Malaysia being a developing country and made a tasteless remark about Malaysia Airlines.

Many Malaysians, including well-known comedian Harith Iskandar and radio personality Kudsia Kahar, took to social media to denounce Chia’s performance.

“I respect the freedom of expression that we comedians require to do our job. But it is equally important to exercise some level of sensitivity and empathy when doing certain material, especially topics that are deeply personal or tragic,” Harith said in a video response posted on Twitter.

Kudsia echoed the sentiment, stating that even jokes have limits and performers should be sensitive to lines that should not be crossed. “Not acceptable. A good standup never turns tragedy and deaths into a joke,” she tweeted.

Syed Saddiq, president of the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance, called Chia’s use of tragic events for entertainment in bad taste but urged Malaysians not to let her performance tarnish their views of Singapore. “I have good faith in my fellow Singaporean friends, and I’m sure all of us deeply cherish our close relations as countries. Whatever it is, let’s not allow one bad seed to tarnish our whole outlook on our neighbour. Take it as a lesson to never take lightly of other people’s misfortunes,” he tweeted.

Some Twitter users accused Chia of instigating a cross-border conflict between Malaysia and Singapore, while others claimed her facial expressions during the performance showed she was not joking but venting her anger against Malaysia.

Malaysia’s Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir, expressed regret and condemned Chia’s actions for disparaging Malaysia and making fun of the MH370 tragedy. “The act by the woman showed a total lack of sensitivity and empathy towards Malaysians and the victims’ families,” he said in a statement.

Jocelyn Chia’s social media accounts, including Instagram, have since been removed or are no longer accessible.

World News

Lee Shuyi

Lee is an expat writer living in Thailand. She specialises in Southeast Asian news for the Thaiger. When she's not writing, Lee enjoys immersing herself in Thai culture and learning Thai.

Related Articles