Malaysia to ask Interpol help in investigating comic who joked about MH370 flight

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Malaysia will seek Interpol’s assistance in tracking down and investigating a stand-up comic who mocked the country and made jokes about missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, its police chief said on Tuesday.

Jocelyn Chia, a New York-based comedian, stirred controversy in Malaysia and Singapore this month after she posted on social media a clip of her live comedy set in which she joked about the plane that went missing nine years ago with 239 people onboard.

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Debris linked to the plane has been found over the years, but the fate and location of the aircraft remain a mystery.

Chia, who performed the set at a comedy club in New York, was widely criticized in Malaysia, with the home minister describing her comments as insensitive and offensive.

National police chief Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said Malaysia would this week ask Interpol for her location and full identity to facilitate further investigations, state news agency Bernama reported.

He said Malaysia will investigate Chia’s comments under its own laws related to provocation, incitement, and publication of offensive online content.

A Malaysian police spokesperson confirmed the comments.

It was unclear if or how Chia could be penalised for her act.

Chia, a lawyer turned comedian who says she is originally from Singapore, could not be reached immediately for comment.

In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Chia said she stood by her jokes despite the controversy, but that the short clips on social media took them out of context.

“Upon reflection I do see that having this as a clip that gets viewed out of a comedy club context was risky,” Chia was reported as saying.

Her comedy, which also touched on historical ties between neighbors Malaysia and Singapore, also sparked outrage in Singapore.

Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s foreign minister, apologized to Malaysians for her comments and said the comedian did not speak for Singaporeans.

Malaysia’s pursuit of Chia come amid what activists say is a crackdown on free speech. Last year, a comedy club was shut down following allegations that it hosted comics who touched on sensitive racial and religious issues.

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