Fury over Laws' 'fat Indian' insult

By Rebecca Lewis

Michael Laws. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle
Michael Laws. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle

Radio host Michael Laws has come under fire for calling Governor-General 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.

At least one complaint from a high-profile sporting personality has been laid with the Race Relations Commissioner, Joris de Bres.

De Bres and media commentator Brian Edwards said they were appalled by the crass comments, which lacked good taste and decency.

The remarks were made by Laws on Monday morning, following the media attention around Paul Henry's much-reported comments that same day.

Laws laid into Satyanand, saying he 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 the Agatha Christie creation Hercule Poirot on UK 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."

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."

The Herald on Sunday understands some RadioLive employees are disgusted by Laws' remarks, and do not agree with the official line.

Laws yesterday said 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".

Edwards said Laws' comments were simply to "climb on the Paul Henry bandwagon" and a blatant bid for ratings.

- NZ Herald

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