M'sian comedian posts classy response to Jocelyn Chia's reference to MH370

He stressed the importance of exercising "some level of sensitivity and empathy when doing certain material, especially topics that are deeply personal or tragic."

Lee Wei Lin | June 08, 2023, 03:28 PM

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Malaysian comedian Harith Iskander has shared his response to Jocelyn Chia using MH370 as a punchline during her stand-up set in New York.

Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia, along with Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, have made known their respective stances that they do not condone what Chia said.

In a Jun. 7 Instagram video, Harith said "everyone" was asking him what he thought of Chia's set, which was uploaded onto various social media platforms.

Saying that it has "riled up Malaysians due to its insensitivity towards the tragedy surrounding MH370", Harith explained that what happened "was and is a deeply traumatic event for Malaysians".

He opined:

"As a comedian, I respect the freedom of expression that we, comedians, require to do our job, but it is equally important to exercise some level of sensitivity and empathy when doing certain material, especially topics that are deeply personal or tragic."

While comedy can be a "powerful tool for social commentary, it needs to be used responsibly", he continued.

He stressed the importance of being aware of the potential impact of their words, and how people may react differently to what they say.

Acknowledging that Chia was performing at the Comedy Cellar in the U.S., he said she should have been "a little bit smarter to realise that in this age of social media, picking on a Malaysian in the audience and then bringing up MH370 is gonna get [posted] on the internet".

Harith concluded:

"Ultimately, as a comedian, my intention is to make people laugh, and I believe comedians and stand-up comedy should strive to create a positive and inclusive comedic environment.

I make fun of Singapore all the time. It's part of the friendly banter that allows us to co-exist. And we're like competitive cousins, right?

So finally, Jocelyn, before I go I just want to say one thing: Malaysia, we may be still a developing nation, but when it comes to kindness and thoughtfulness, we are definitely First World. I don't know about other countries, though."

Now, that's a real class act.

Top photos from Jocelyn Chia's TikTok & Harith Iskander's Instagram