S’pore comedian Kumar slams US comic Jocelyn Chia, apologises to Malaysians

“I really think people shouldn’t use stand-up comedy as a tool to vent out your anger and hatred. Please learn from this”, he said.

Sarah Koh

Sarah Koh

The Straits Times


In a video posted on Instagram on Friday, Singaporean comedian Kumar tells American stand-up performer Jocelyn Chia to “seek help”.

June 12, 2023

SINGAPORE – Singaporean comedian Kumar has joined a list of fellow comedians and politicians in criticising the comments made by Jocelyn Chia about Malaysia and a missing Malaysia Airlines plane during one of her stand-up shows.

In a video uploaded to Instagram on Friday, he apologised to Malaysians over the comedienne’s comments.

“I really think people shouldn’t use stand-up comedy as a tool to vent out your anger and hatred. Please learn from this,” he said.

Speaking directly to Chia, who was born in the United States but raised in Singapore, Kumar said: “If you’re watching this, I really think you (should) seek help, because you really got some issues.”

The 54-year-old comedian added how Singaporeans often visit Malaysia for leisure and work, and in his caption, likened both countries to being “brothers and sisters”.

“Any animosity created is not good for us,” he said in the video.

Kumar told The Straits Times that Chia went overboard and was being hateful.

“This could have become a big issue. Malaysia could have said: ‘No Singaporean comedian can come to Malaysia.’ Then what’s going to happen to our bread and butter?” he said in a phone interview with ST.

“In my shows, I don’t touch on topics based on tragedies, disasters or anything where we are not sure what happened. We don’t speculate.”

Chia, an American citizen, had joked about the MH370 tragedy during an April 7 stand-up comedy show in New York that poked fun at the rivalry between Singapore and Malaysia.

In an 89-second video clip of her set posted on Instagram, she said: “Now, Malaysia, you all are trying to come around, like, ‘Hey Singapore, you’re looking good lah.’ And we’re like, ‘I know, but why haven’t you visited me in 40 years?’

“And (Malaysia’s) like, ‘Yeah I tried, but you know, my airplanes cannot fly,” she said, to laughter and audible gasps from the crowd.

She added: “Why, Malaysia Airlines going missing not funny huh? Some jokes don’t land.”

Flight MH370 left Kuala Lumpur for Beijing in March 2014 but never arrived. To date, the plane, with 227 passengers and 12 crew members, has not been located.

Checks by ST on Monday showed that some of Chia’s social media accounts, such as those on Facebook and Instagram, have been deactivated.

Other Singaporean entertainers such as Selena Tan and Sebastian Tan, and UFM100.3 radio DJ Huang Wenhong had also weighed in on the issue.

Speaking to Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao, Sebastian Tan described Chia’s comments as vulgar and disrespectful to the victims and families of the MH370 tragedy, while Huang said it was despicable for Chia to use the grief of others for her own benefit.

Actress Selena Tan told the Chinese Daily that comedy is about making observations about real but sensitive issues, which is why there is often a fine line between funny and offensive content.

Chia’s comments had also been criticised by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and the Republic’s High Commissioner to Malaysia.

In a tweet posted on Thursday, Dr Balakrishnan said: “I am appalled by her horrendous statements. She certainly does not speak for Singaporeans. We treasure our ties with family and friends in Malaysia and are sorry for the offence and hurt caused to all Malaysians.”

Singapore’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, Mr Vanu Gopala Menon, was sorry for Chia’s “hurtful remarks” and “gratuitously offensive comments”.

In a statement on Thursday, he said: “The Singapore Government does not condone words or actions that cause harm or hurt to others and Chia does not in any way reflect our views. As our closest neighbour, Singapore and Malaysia enjoy a strong and multifaceted relationship, with deep and cross-cutting ties… Comments such as those made by Chia are unhelpful and undermine the close trust and friendship that both our countries and peoples enjoy.”


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