MH370 joke: Malaysia asks Interpol to track down comedian

Malaysia is seeking Interpol’s help in tracking down a New York-based comedian who joked about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

Jocelyn Chia, a US national who grew up in Singapore, is being investigated under Malaysian laws on incitement and offensive online content, police say.

Her joke, posted online last week, prompted an official protest from Malaysia and an apology from Singapore.

MH370 went missing after taking off from Kuala Lumpur in March 2014.

Despite a four-year search in the Indian Ocean, the main body of the plane was never found. All 239 people on board are presumed dead.

On Tuesday Malaysian national police chief Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said an application would be filed with Interpol on Wednesday to get Ms Chia’s “full identity” and “latest location”.

Interpol is yet to publicly respond to the case and it not clear whether Malaysia has jurisdictional power to request such information.

Interpol can issue a “Red Notice”, asking law enforcement in member countries to locate and provisionally arrest those who are facing either criminal prosecution or a jail term before they are extradited.

Malaysia and the US have an extradition treaty – however Malaysian authorities have not yet indicated they intend to prosecute or charge Ms Chia. The scope of their investigation is unclear.

The row began after Ms Chia posted a clip of her recent stand-up set at Manhattan’s Comedy Cellar venue.

It included a routine about the historic rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia, which were once briefly part of the same country.

Noting that Singapore had risen to be a “first-world country” while Malaysia remained “developing”, she joked that Malaysian airplanes “cannot fly”.

Ms Chia added: “Malaysian Airlines going missing not funny huh? Some jokes don’t land.”

The video, which created uproar in Malaysia, was removed by TikTok, which cited a violation of its hate-speech guidelines.

Singapore’s ambassador to Malaysia said Ms Chia did not speak for Singaporeans. Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s foreign minister, condemned her “horrendous statements”.

On Sunday, Ms Chia told CNN that she had performed the routine “more than 100 times” without any problems.

She added that she stood by the joke and that the clip had been taken out of context.