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Singapore-born comedian draws furore for insensitive joke on MH370, SG apologises

Singapore-born comedian draws furore for insensitive joke on MH370, SG apologises

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Singapore has publicly issued an apology to Malaysia after Singapore-born comedian, Jocelyn Chia made a joke about the 2014 MH370 crash in a comedy routine of hers. She also made disparaging snarky comparisons between Singapore and Malaysia’s politics. 

“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,” Chia said, referring to Singapore’s first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who announced the island state’s separation from Malaysia in 1965.

She then went on to say that while Singapore has since gained the status of a ‘first world country’, Malaysia remains a ‘developing’ one. She then went to have a dialogue with the crowd before saying:

Why, Malaysian Airlines going missing not funny huh? Some jokes don’t land.

Chia was referencing the MH370 tragedy, where an aircraft that left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing in March of 2014, went missing and has remained so till today. 

Don't miss: Crackhouse Comedy Club owner makes a another attempt to rid cybercrime charges

Undoubtedly, this joke infuriated many Malaysians who took offence to the insensitivities in Chia’s comedy routine.

Malaysian politician Syed Saddiq took to Twitter to say that turning a tragedy into a source of entertainment is in bad taste. This was a direct response to Kudsia Kahar, a Malaysian radio broadcaster who said that while she is a huge supporter of standup comedians, she draws the line at turning MH370 into a joke. “Not acceptable. A good standup never turns tragedy and deaths into a joke,” she added.

syed saddiq


Singaporean politician Vivian Balakrishnan joined in on the same Twitter thread to express his disapproval of Chia’s joke.

“I am appalled by her horrendous statements. 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 in the tweet.


Singapore’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, Vanu Gopala Menon, also spoke out against Chia’s comments. His statement clarified that the Singapore Government does not condone words or actions that cause harm or hurt to others and that Chia, who is no longer Singaporean, does not reflect the country’s views of Malaysia.

“As our closest neighbour, Singapore and Malaysia enjoy a strong and multi-faceted relationship, with deep and cross-cutting ties. We also have unique historical and close people-to-people ties. Comments such as those made by Chia are unhelpful and undermine the close trust and friendship that both our countries and peoples enjoy,” he added.

sg high commissioner

This joke was part of Chia’s standup routine in Comedy Cellar, in New York City. The city is not unbeknownst to plane crash tragedies ever since the 9/11 crash.

A few weeks after the incident, Gilbert Gottfried, an American standup comedian performed a joke where he said, “I have to leave early tonight, I have a flight to California. I can’t get a direct flight — they said I have to stop at the Empire State Building first.” According to media reports, Gottfried said, “I don’t think anyone’s lost an audience bigger than I did at that point. They were booing and hissing. One guy said, “Too soon!”

In Malaysia, Crackhouse Comedy Club was indefinitely banned for a controversial stand-up routine for insulting Islam. The stand-up routine video, which was posted online, involved jokes on Islam, drawing furore from Malaysians - many of whom are Muslim. The comedian, Siti Nuramira binti Abdullah said, “I’m a Malay Muslim and I have memorised 15 verses of the Quran,” after which she stripped off her hijab and baju kurung, to show a more revealing outfit that she had worn underneath. The routine was profanity-laden as well. Nuramira was arrested but went on to plead not guilty of insulting Islam. The owners of the club are still fighting to rid themselves of the charges. 

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KL Crackhouse Comedy Club reportedly goes to court to overturn blacklisted status
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