Singaporean comedian draws flak with MH370 joke

PETALING JAYA: A Singaporean comedian has drawn backlash after using the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in her stand-up comedy routine.

Jocelyn Chia, who was performing at a comedy club in the United States, first joked about Malaysia being a developing country that was far behind Singapore, 40 years after the island nation was "dumped" by Malaysia in 1965.

"My country, Singapore, after we gained independence from the British, we were a struggling little nation.

"In order to survive, we formed a union with a larger, more powerful country, Malaysia.

"When my prime minister went on TV to announce that you guys had dumped us, he cried because he thought we were not going to survive without you.

"But then, 40 years later, we became a first-world country."

"And you guys? Malaysia, what are you now? Still a developing country," she says sarcastically in a video shared on her Instagram account.

However, she then crudely references the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 tragedy in a joke about Malaysia seeking to re-establish ties with Singapore.

"Why haven't you (Malaysia) paid me a visit in 40 years?," she says in a monologue.

In another voice, she replies: "I tried, but you know, our airplanes can't fly," she says as a graphic of a Malaysia Airlines plane flashes on the screen,

This draws a few gasps from the audience but Jocelyn doubles down on the joke.

"What, Malaysia Airlines going missing is not funny, huh?

"Some jokes don't land," she says in an apparent reference to Flight MH370, which vanished on March 8, 2014 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China.

The fate of its 239 passengers and crew are unknown till today.

The video, which has since gone viral, has been met with severe criticism, with wife of MH370 crew member Mohd Hazrin Mohamed Hasnan, Intan Maizura Othaman, leaving scathing comments.

"When you attend a show that features an incompetent lawyer turned unfunny comedian, this is what you get... the need to take distasteful cheap shots using controversial issues to gain quick popularity is strong in this one," Intan wrote.

Another user asyahrazak wrote "First world country but your attitude is like garbage. It's not funny at all making a joke about MH370 tragedy,"

Malaysian comedian Harith Iskander also chimed in with an Instagram video.

"As a comedian, I respect the freedom of expression we need to do our job but it is equally important to exercise some level of sensitivity and empathy when doing certain material that is deeply personal or tragic.

"Comedy can be a powerful tool for social commentary but it has to be used responsibly.

"Comedians should strive to create a positive and inclusive comedic environment. I make fun of Singapore all the time, it's part of the friendly banter that allows us to coexist.

"While we may still be a developing nation, when it comes to kindness and thoughtfulness, we are definitely first world," said Harith.

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