Malaysian officials on Thursday condemned a Singapore-born stand-up comedian who mocked Malaysia and made fun of the 2014 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 during a skit in the United States.
Jocelyn Chia posted her act on social media, sparking outrage in Malaysia and prompting Singapore officials to quickly apologise. Chia made crude remarks about Malaysia, which she said lagged far behind Singapore after the two separated in 1965.
She joked about Malaysian airplanes not being able to fly, drawing gasps from the audience. Chia continued: “Why? Malaysian Airlines going missing not funny, huh? Some jokes don’t land.” Flight MH370 was carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it vanished on March 8, 2014, and is presumed to have crashed in the far southern Indian Ocean.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir said Chia’s act “showed a total lack of sensitivity and empathy” toward Malaysians and the victims’ families.
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“This video also clearly depicts behaviour that is contrary to the values of Asian countries that are known for their manners and morals,” he said in a statement.
Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan took to Twitter on Thursday to apologise. He said he was appalled by Chia’s “horrendous statements” and that Chia doesn’t 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,” he said.
Singapore officials said Chia was no longer a citizen. The Singapore Straits Times reported she is now a US citizen. Following the backlash, the video appeared to have been removed from some of Chia’s social media but could still found on some sites. A Malaysian social news portal, the World of Buzz, reported that Chia was defiant. She had posted earlier on social media in response to criticism that “people take jokes way too seriously,” it said. Chia added that “tragedy + time = comedy” and said that the joke was acceptable as it has been long enough since the incident, the site reported. Her comments were later inaccessible.
Scattered pieces of debris that washed ashore on African beaches and Indian Ocean islands indicated that MH370 likely crashed in a distant remote stretch of the ocean. But a government search by Australia, Malaysia and China failed to pinpoint a location. And a second, private search by US company Ocean Infinity found no sign of a possible crash site.