KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA — Approximately 100 individuals, comprising members of Umno Youth, Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) Youth, and People’s Progressive Party (MyPPP), gathered outside the United States Embassy on Friday in Kuala Lumpur, staging a protest against the controversial remarks by former Singaporean comedian Jocelyn Chia regarding Malaysia and the still unresolved disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.
Chia, a New York-based lawyer-turned-comedian, stirred outrage when she posted a snippet of her recent performance on Instagram, during which she took jabs at the rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia, and made provocative comments about the Malaysian audience, to the extent of treating the MH370 tragedy as a punchline.
The protest commenced after Friday afternoon prayers, with the crowd marching from a nearby mosque towards the embassy, chanting “Go! Go, Go, Go, long live youth chief, God is great”. Approximately 80 police officers were on the scene to maintain order as the peaceful protest unfolded and concluded within 45 minutes.
Umno Youth chief Muhamad Akmal Saleh, addressing the protesters, condemned Chia’s insensitive joke, emphasizing that the freedom of speech should not disregard the sensitivities of Malaysians. “We urge the government to ban Ms Jocelyn (from entering) Malaysia,” he stated.
In the midst of the uproar, a protest letter was submitted to the embassy, urging the US authorities to investigate the incident and take appropriate measures to resolve the situation.
The letter reads: “As an embassy representing the United States, a country known for its commitment to diplomacy and inclusiveness, it is imperative to address this issue promptly and take appropriate action.”
MyPPP youth chief Sathiah Sudakaran and MCA Youth chief Nicole Wong Siaw Ting both echoed the sentiment that Chia’s comments had disrupted the peace and harmony between Malaysia and Singapore.
Wong added that Chia’s joke had even upset her children. “We understand that it was a stand-up comedy, but it is not funny if you attack MH370 as families are still mourning for their loved ones,” she said.
Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Zahid Hamidi has stated that any necessary investigations into Chia’s remarks would be conducted by the police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.
Meanwhile, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and the Republic’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, Mr Vanu Gopala Menon, also expressed their disapproval of Chia’s comments, emphasizing that she does not represent the views of Singaporeans.
Memon posted on social media to sincerely apologise to all Malaysians for Chia’s hurtful remarks.
“The Singapore Government does not condone words or actions that cause harm or hurt to others and Chia, who is no longer Singaporean, does not in any way reflect our views.”
He reiterated that as 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,” Menon added.
Social media accounts taken down
Chia, in her controversial performance, portrayed Malaysia as an ex trying to reconnect with Singapore after the nations’ separation in 1965.
In a particularly distasteful jest, she associated Malaysia’s attempt to ‘visit’ Singapore with the tragic MH370 incident.
Her remarks were met with disapproval by the audience, but she unapologetically responded, “What? Malaysian airlines going missing is not funny, huh? Some jokes don’t land. This joke kills in Singapore.”
Chia’s insensitivity has drawn heavy criticism from both Malaysians and Singaporeans, many of whom regard her comments as a stark reminder of the ongoing pain of the MH370 tragedy for victims and their families.
Chia has since removed the video from her TikTok account and appears to have taken down her other public social media accounts.