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Malaysia to seek Interpol help finding comedian who told ‘gratuitously offensive’ missing plane joke

Malaysian police will seek Interpol’s help to find a U.S.-based comedian who told a controversial joke about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, but they may not get the help they’re seeking. 

Jocelyn Chia, who grew up in Singapore, joked that Malaysian planes “cannot fly” in reference to the disappearance of flight MH370. The 2014 disappearance remains one of the most vexing mysteries in aviation. 

The Boeing 777 took off from Kuala Lumpur headed to Beijing March 8, 2014 and disappeared around 90 seconds after leaving Malaysian airspace with all 239 of its passengers seemingly gone without a trace.

Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan condemned the joke as a “horrendous statement,’ and the country’s high commissioner to Malaysia called it “gratuitously offensive,” adding that “Chia, who is no longer Singaporean, does not in any way reflect our views,” the Telegraph reported. 

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A young Malaysian child poses in front of message board and well wishes to people involved with the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner MH370, Sepang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, March 16, 2014.  (Joshua Paul/NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Corbis via Getty Images)

Chia told the BBC that she was “not making fun of tragedy” or victims, but Malaysia’s state news agency reported that authorities will look to investigate her under the country’s laws relating to insulting speech and offensive or obscene online content. 

Interpol told Fox News Digital that as of Wednesday, it received “no request for a notice or diffusion from Malaysia … in relation to this individual,” and any request would need to comply with the organizations constitution, “which forbids any activities which are religious, racial, military or political in nature.”

“Similarly, any request in relation to offenses related to freedom of expression would also be assessed in view of the possible application of international human rights standards in the context of Article 2(1) of the Constitution, whereby the Organization’s activities should be carried out in spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” an Interpol spokesperson said.

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Jocelyn Chia indonesia

Comedian Joselyn Chia performs during her appearance at Flappers Comedy Club and Restaurant Burbank on March 29, 2022 in Burbank, California.  (Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images)

“Any request which is not compliant with the above, or any other rule or offense criteria would be refused.” 

Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail described Chia’s joke as “insensitive and offensive,” claiming that no sane or rational person would make such a joke.

Chia made the joke during an extended segment that poked fun at the history between Indonesia and Malaysia, saying that Malaysia was a “developing” country lagging behind the “first-world” Singapore. 

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Malaysia MH370 comedian

Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s foreign affairs minister, during a press conference after a meeting with Mauro Vieira, Brazil’s foreign minister, at the Itamaraty Palace in Brasilia, Brazil, on Monday, April 17, 2023.  (Andressa Anholete/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

After making her MH370 joke, she said, “What? Malaysian planes going missing not funny, huh? Some jokes don’t land.” Social media, where the video spread quickly, flagged the content as a violation of hate-speech. 

Chia told the BBC that her joke had been “taken out of context and consumed on social media.” 

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

“Americans can appreciate humor 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 added.

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