Auckland: A New Zealand radio host Monday apologised to Indian-origin Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand for calling him a “large, fat man”, a day after a TV anchor quit following flak for his remark on Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
Michael Laws of RadioLive apologised for the comments he made last week about the governor general, despite previously saying he would not do so.
In a statement on the RadioLive website, Laws apologised for calling Sir Anand Satyanand a “large, fat man” who has “never left” the buffet table.
“I apologise to the governor general for comments which were, upon reflection, uncharitable and inappropriate,” Laws was quoted as saying by the New Zealand Herald.
“I reserve the right to be controversial and outspoken.”
“But my off-air comments, in particular, crossed the line from puckish to insulting, and although that was not my intent, it was still inappropriate,” Laws said.
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.
On his radio show on Monday last week, Laws said Satyanand was an “unusual-shaped man” who reminded him of the impossibly obese Monty Python character Mr Creosote. He also likened him to a British actor who played Agatha Christie’s creation Hercule Poirot on 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,” the anchor said.
Laws comments followed those of Paul Henry, who questioned whether the next governor general would “look like a New Zealander”.
On Sunday, Prime Minister John Key called on Laws to apologise, but the latter said he should “stop being so PC (politically correct)”.
“He’s the Prime Minister, he’s not some pussy that the Labour Party decided to plant in the National Party so I’d say to the prime minister get back to watching the rugby and worry about being so overtly politically correct when the rest of the country needs you to show some real leadership around the economy.”
Laws had earlier said he stood by everything he had said.
“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.”