SEA Games host sorry for com­ment

The China Post - - SPORTS -

A pre­sen­ter at Sin­ga­pore’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games’ open­ing cer­e­mony has apol­o­gized af­ter she shocked on­look­ers by mock­ing a small, eth­nic In­dian girl about her ac­cent.

TV per­son­al­ity and actress Sharon Au prompted a mi­nor out­cry af­ter she ap­proached the girl, who was sit­ting in the crowd with an older man, pre­sum­ably her fa­ther.

“What (vat) hap­pened, what hap­pened?” she laughed, wob­bling her head from side to side, af­ter the girl stum­bled as she tried to re­peat a line wel­com­ing ath­letes to the Games.

Au, who is eth­nic Chi­nese, also teased the girl about her name, Kavya, call­ing her “caviar” in­stead.

The actress in­sisted her com­ments at Fri­day’s cer­e­mony were merely an at­tempt at hu­mor as she apol­o­gized for the ex­change.

“Some of you may have watched the pre-show and heard my at­tempt at mim­ick­ing an In­dian ac­cent,” she posted on her Face­book page.

“It was in­tended to be comic but in hind­sight I re­al­ize how in­sen­si­tive it was. I sin­cerely apol­o­gize to those whom I’ve in­ad­ver­tently of­fended.”

Au is a well-known per­son­al­ity in Sin­ga­pore who has been cast to play the wife of late strongman leader Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March, in “The LKY Mu­si­cal.”

Sin­ga­pore, which is 74 per­cent eth­nic Chi­nese, 13 per­cent Malay and 9 per­cent In­dian, has strict laws on stir­ring communal ten­sions af­ter bloody race ri­ots in the 1960s.

The cer­e­mony in­ci­dent drew a strong re­sponse on so­cial me­dia as the 11-na­tion, 36-sport SEA Games got un­der­way with its first full day of com­pe­ti­tion on Satur­day.

“A great start de­stroyed by a sin­gle racist act from host Sharon Au. Will we ever learn?” posted one Twit­ter user.

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