SEA Games: Host says sorry for 'insensitive' remarks during opening ceremony

Flag bearers from the 11 Asean countries march during the opening ceremony of the biennial Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore's National Stadium on June 5, 2015. — AFP pic
Flag bearers from the 11 Asean countries march during the opening ceremony of the biennial Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Singapore's National Stadium on June 5, 2015. — AFP pic

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SINGAPORE, June6 — A presenter at Singapore’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games’ opening ceremony has apologised 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.

“Vat (what) happened, vat 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 yesterday’s ceremony were merely an attempt at humour as she apologised 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 realise how insensitive it was. I sincerely apologise 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 per cent ethnic Chinese, 13 per cent Malay and nine 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. — AFP

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