Harith Iskander on S’porean’s MH370 ‘joke’: M’sia still a developing country but first in kindness, thoughtfulness

Harith responding to Chia's recent stand-up comedy mocking Malaysia. Screenshots taken from Harith's video on his Facebook page.

This Content Is Only For Subscribers

Please subscribe to unlock this content. Enter your email address and full name to get access. It's FREE!
Your email address is 100% safe from spam!

By Ling Hui

KUCHING, June 9: Malaysia may still be a developing country, but it is definitely first when it comes to kindness and thoughtfulness, says renowned Malaysian stand-up comedian Harith Iskander.

In a two-minute clip posted on social media, Harith responded to a recent stand-up comedy performance at New York’s Comedy Cellar by Singapore-born Jocelyn Chia that riled up Malaysians on the Internet.

In the viral video, Chia mocked and cursed Malaysia and referenced the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

“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.

“Comedy can be a powerful tool for social commentary, but it needs to be used responsibly as Spider-Man said, ‘With great power comes…’ you know, yada yada yada (sic),” said Harith.

He emphasised that comedians, as artists, must be aware of their words’ potential impact, especially when comedy is a subjective form of expression.

“That means what’s funny to one person may not be necessarily funny to someone else, and you got to keep in mind (the) context,” he explained.

Harith also pointed out that Chia should have been ‘smarter’ to realise the broader consequences of her stand-up act, which was picking on Malaysians and then bringing up the MH370 incident, though she was performing in the United States.

“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. Yeah, it’s part of the friendly banter that allows us to coexist, and we’re like competitive cousins,” he added.

Ever since Chia’s video broke the Internet, several representatives from Malaysia and Sarawak have voiced out, mostly to condemn Chia’s insensitivity and crudeness towards a global tragedy.

Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon and Singapore Foreign Minister Vivan Balakrishnan also apologised to Malaysia and stressed that Chia’s words do not reflect Singapore’s views.

As of the latest, Chia appeared to have deactivated her Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook social media accounts. Her website, however, remains active.

MH370 was an international passenger flight operated by Malaysia Airlines that disappeared on March 8, 2014, while flying from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to the Beijing Capital International Airport in China and is considered by many as one of the ‘greatest aviation mysteries’. — DayakDaily