Another New Zealand anchor in race row

Last Updated: Monday, October 11, 2010 - 11:38

Auckland: A New Zealand radio host has come under fire for calling Indian-origin Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand a “large, fat man”, hours after a TV anchor quit following flak for his comment on Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Michael Laws, who was hosting a programme on RadioLive last Monday, has described Sir Anand Satyanand a “large, fat man” who has “never left” the buffet table.

His bosses at RadioLive have also been slammed - for saying they are comfortable with the remarks, The New Zealand Herald reported on Sunday.

The remarks were made by Laws on Monday morning, following the row over TVNZ presenter Paul Henry`s comments the same day. Paul resigned on Sunday, a week after India lodged a diplomatic protest over his offensive remark on Sheila Dikshit.

Laws said Satyanand was an “unusual-shaped man” who reminded him of the impossibly obese Monty Python character Mr Creosote, the daily said.

He also likened him to an English actor who played the Agatha Christie creation Hercule Poirot on British television.

“That reminds me of Anand Satyanand, but Anand Satyanand could never move that quickly. He is a very large, fat man,” he said.

“I don`t know why but just on an Indian it seems slightly incongruous. I mean, we don`t all expect Indians to be begging on the streets of New Delhi, but it`s like Anand discovered the buffet table at, like, 20 and he`s never really left it.’

RadioLive station manager Jana Rangooni issued a statement to the Herald on Sunday this week, saying she was not concerned about Laws` comments.

“On Monday morning, Michael Laws made some personal observations about his size which were not racist, and having listened to the audio I am comfortable from the tone of the comments that they were not intended to be offensive.”

Race Relations Commissioner, Joris de Bres, said RadioLive`s response to the matter was disappointing as Laws` comments were `disgusting` and in “poor taste”.

“I am astonished that RadioLive has taken the position it has,” he said.

“It was crass ... I`m lost for words. Just the vulgarity of it and the fact that it crosses the line on a whole range of counts.”

According to the Herald on Sunday, some RadioLive employees are also disgusted by Laws` remarks and do not agree with the official line.

However, Laws said Saturday that he stood by everything he`d said. De Bres` opinion “is so out of touch with mainstream New Zealand”, Laws said, and the uproar about Henry was exaggerated by the media.

“I didn`t realise weight was a racial issue,” he said. “I just said he`s a fat Indian man, which is true. He`s a fat Indian.

“It`s not personal opinion, it`s an observation that anyone with eyes and half a brain could actually work out for themselves - that Anand is a bit of a patron saint for obesity.”

He said should Sir Anand decide to have a tummy tuck operation, he would have his “full support”.

Media commentator Brain Edwards said the comment lacked good taste and decency. He said Laws` comments were simply to “climb on the Paul Henry bandwagon” and a blatant bid for ratings.

Anand is New Zealand`s first governor general of Indian and Pacific ancestry. He had a lengthy career as a lawyer, judge and ombudsman before being appointed to the job in August 2006.

He was born and raised in Auckland. His parents were born in Fiji and migrated to New Zealand while his grandparents were born in India and had migrated to Fiji.

IANS



First Published: Monday, October 11, 2010 - 11:38

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