Malaysia seeks help from Interpol to track down comedians because of a joke about missing Malaysia Airlines flight

Jocelyn Chia mentioned the plane crash at her show at New York’s Comedy Cellar in April, according to media reports, in reference to the strained relations between Malaysia and Singapore, where she grew up. Malaysia had abandoned Singapore, Xia said, referring to the island nation’s secession in the 1950s, adding that Singapore “retaliated” by becoming a modern country, in contrast to Malaysia which will remain a “developing country”.

Then, Xia said, Malaysians have not traveled much in recent years “because planes can’t fly.” When part of the audience didn’t laugh at the joke, the pun added, “Malaysia Airlines jokes don’t go down well.”

Flight MH370, which disappeared without trace in March 2014, is one of Malaysia’s deadliest plane crashes ever, with 239 people on board.

The prank sparked outrage on social media, followed by condemnations from senior officials in both Malaysia and Singapore. Malaysian police have also opened an investigation under the law against offensive content online, according to the Johor State Police.

Southern state police chief Qamaruzzaman Mamat said on Wednesday that authorities had sent a request to Interpol requesting “more information about the suspect to assist in the investigation” after receiving reports.

Xia defends herself by saying that she has performed the show “over a hundred times” without any problems. “I stand by my joke, but with a small difference — I support it wholeheartedly,” she told CNN in a commentary that aired Sunday. She added, “On reflection, I understand that a video seen outside the context of a comedy club is risky.”

In response to the Malaysian police’s request, it tweeted on Wednesday that it “would like to see the face of the Interpol officer who received this request.” Also, the issue seems to be positive only for its fame: “I’m on the BBC homepage, I’ve been interviewed by CNN, New York times, BBC World and soon on Fox News. Keep calm, Malaysia.”

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