Malaysia will ask Interpol for help tracking down a stand-up comedian who joked about the country and the missing Malaysia Airlines flight during a set at a popular Manhattan club in April.
Jocelyn Chia, a Boston-born comic with dual citizenship in Singapore, sparked outrage and even protests after posting a video of her Comedy Cellar stand-up performance where she joked about the historical tensions between Malaysia and Singapore.
The set also included a joke about Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which vanished in 2014 with 239 people onboard. What happened to the aircraft remains a mystery.
Malaysia’s national police chief Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said his country will ask Interpol this week for the New York-based comic’s location and full identity to facilitate further investigations, state news agency Bernama reported.
Officials confirmed to Reuters that Malaysia will investigate Chia’s joke under its own laws related to provocation, incitement, and publication of offensive online content.
It was unclear if or how Chia could be penalized for her act.
Chia’s joke commented on the differences between Singapore and Malaysia since the two separated in 1965, noting that Singapore has become a “first world country” while Malaysia is still “developing,” video shows.
She then likened the split to a romantic breakup, with Malaysia trying to win Singapore back with the excuse that it hadn’t visited because “my airplanes cannot fly.”
“What? Malaysia Airlines going missing not funny?” she added.
She then quipped: “Some jokes don’t land.”
After the clip went viral nearly two months after the performance, the Greenwich Village club’s website was hacked, and thousands of one-star reviews were posted on Google.
Another venue, the West Side Comedy Club, said they were threatened with bad reviews after irate from the other side of the world found Chia had performed there.
TikTok removed the clip from its platform and labeled it “hateful behavior” and in violation of community guidelines.
On Friday, the United Malays National Organization — one of Malaysia’s biggest political parties — marched to the US embassy in Kuala Lumpur in protest.
The clip has also been criticized by Singapore. Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s foreign minister, apologized to Malaysians for her comments and said the comedian did not speak for Singaporeans.
Chia defended her jokes during an interview with CNN on Sunday.
“Upon reflection I do see that having this as a clip that gets viewed out of a comedy club context was risky,” Chia said.
With Post wires