Chia’s ‘joke’ no laughing matter

PETALING JAYA: Singapore-born stand-up comedian Jocelyn Chia (pic) has landed herself in hot water with top diplomats, artistes and the public slamming her for her “distasteful” joke about MH370 at a club in New York.

Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon described Chia’s remarks as “gratuitously offensive comments” and said his government did not condone words or actions that cause harm or hurt to others.

“Chia, who is no longer Singaporean, does not in any way reflect our views. I sincerely apologise to all Malaysians for her hurtful remarks,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Chia is now a US citizen.

The republic’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan also tweeted in response to Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s tweet referencing Chia’s joke.

“She certainly does not 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.

Condemning Chia’s distasteful joke, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir said the comedian showed a total lack of sensitivity and empathy towards the victims’ families.

“I believe this is not a stance or action accepted by any country,” he said.

Intan Maizura Othaman, the wife of a flight attendant on MH370, said her son Muhammad is still crying over the loss of his father. “...and here you are making fun of the tragedy.

“Do you know how many mothers are still crying over the tragedy until today?’” she said in a video posted on her TikTok page.

Malaysian comedian Harith Iskander was also dismayed by Chia’s actions.

While freedom of expression is necessary for comedians, he said it was also equally important to exercise sensitivity and empathy.

“The loss of the plane is a deeply traumatic event for all Malaysians,” Harith said on his Instagram account.

“Comedians, as artists, need to be aware of the potential impact our words can have,” he said.

“Malaysia, we may still be a developing nation. But when it comes to kindness and thoughtfulness, we are definitely first world,” he said, alluding to Chia’s snide remark that Malaysia was still a developing nation.

Comedian-screenwriter Datuk Afdlin Shauki said comedians should steer clear of sensitive topics such as tragedies and urged them to “use their heads”.

He told Berita Harian it was all right to poke fun at Malaysians but “we generally avoid sensitive topics such as tragedies”.

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