Jocelyn Chia: US comedian says Malaysia’s reaction to MH370 joke is ‘overblown’


Comedian Jocelyn China has hit out at the Malaysian government for their “overblown” reaction to a joke on the tragic disappearance of the MH370 flight.

Ms Chia, a New York-based comedian who grew up in Singapore, is being investigated and tracked down by Malaysia for incitement and offensive online content.

The comedian sparked a huge backlash after she made a joke during her 7 April performance at the Comedy Cellar in Manhattan about the 2014 mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 with 239 people onboard

The flight became a topic of historical animosity between Singapore and Malaysia which were once part of the same country.

Mr Chia told the BBC in an interview that she was “not making fun of tragedy” or victims and her joke was “taken out of context when consumed on social media”.

“I have [performed this routine] hundreds of times and even did a shorter version of it in Singapore. It always cracks the audience up. I wouldn’t have used it again if it didn’t work,” she said.

She added that “roasting” a member of the audience is part of comedy culture and it was not something new as several American comedians have done it with 9/11 attacks.

“Americans can appreciate humour that is harsher, edgier and more in-your-face, as compared to in Asia where the stand-up comedy scene is still in its early days. You won’t find a lot of edgy comedy in Asia,” she said.

On Tuesday, Malaysian authorities said they would urge Interpol to locate Ms Chia for her investigation.

Ms Chia said it was “ridiculous” to involve Interpol in this controversy.

“I just wish I could have seen the face of the Interpol officer who received this request,” Ms Chia said.

“Honestly, if Interpol does do something about this request and things escalate, can you imagine how famous it is going to make me?”

It began after Ms Chia posted an 89-second clip of her comedy act on her TikTok and Instagram pages and the video went viral, sparking outrage from many Malaysians.

Ms Chia said Malaysians cannot visit Singapore because their “aeroplanes cannot fly” in reference to the 2014 crash as she compared the development of Kuala Lumpur with the city-state, Singapore.

“What? Malaysian Airlines’ plane going missing not funny, huh?” Ms Chia asked the audience after getting mixed reactions. “This joke kills in Singapore.”

Meanwhile, Interpol has said they have not received any request from Malaysia yet regarding Ms Chia.

There has been no request for assistance from Interpol by Malaysia in locating comedian Jocelyn Chia as of Wednesday (Jun 14).

“As of today, Wednesday Jun 14, no request for a notice or diffusion from Malaysia has been received in relation to this individual,” an Interpol spokesperson told CNA.

The agency said the complaint should be “compliant with Interpol’s Constitution which forbids any activities which are religious, racial, military or political in nature”.

“Any request associated with offences related to freedom of expression would also be assessed in line with international human rights standards,” said the Interpol spokesperson.

Showing defiance against criticism, Ms Chia said she has released a “full, unedited version of (the) joke on my Patreon so social media can’t take it down”.

Source: The Independent