Malaysian Police Seek INTERPOL Help to Track Down Comedian After MH370 Joke

Malaysian police plan to seek help from INTERPOL to track down US-based comedian Jocelyn Chia, who joked about the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Ms. Chia, whose website states she is originally from Singapore, received backlash after statements made during a set at a New York Club that Malaysian Airlines “cannot fly” and that Malaysia had lagged behind Singapore after the 1965 separation of Malaysia and Singapore. 

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing in 2014 after it disappeared from air traffic radar somewhere over the Indian Ocean, with 227 passengers and 12 crew onboard. On the ninth anniversary of the disappearance in March of 2023, Netflix began streaming a three-episode docuseries on the theories of the disappearance. The docuseries has renewed public interest in the disappearance referred to as one of the biggest aviation mysteries of all time. 

As CBS News stated in an article, Ms. Chia’s statements caused an uproar on social media, followed by condemnations by top Malaysian officials including the foreign minister.

“I am appalled by her horrendous statements,” Singapore’s foreign minister Vivian Balakrishnan tweeted.

“We treasure our ties with family and friends in Malaysia, and are sorry for the offence and hurt caused to all Malaysians.”

 As The Guardian reported, Jocelyn Chia will be investigated under the country’s laws relating to insulting speech and offensive or obscene online content. Police chief Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani was quoted as saying that the police would ask INTERPOL for assistance in finding out her full identity and whereabouts.

As stated in a Fox News article, INTERPOL told Fox News Digital that it received “no request for a notice or diffusion from Malaysia … in relation to this individual,” and any request would need to comply with the organization’s constitution, “which forbids any activities which are religious, racial, military or political in nature.”

Ms. Chia stood by her joke even after Malaysia’s plan to involve the international police body became public, tweeting: “Would love to see the face of the Interpol officer who received this request.” 

Whether her joke was in good taste or not, Ms. Chia is likely correct in her understanding of this matter as being improper for INTERPOL’s involvement.  There appears to be no underlying crime that could qualify as a criminal matter in INTERPOL’s other member countries, and that dual criminality element is required for an extradition to occur.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.