US diplomat regrets her 'dirty, dark' comments

Indo Asian News Service

Chennai, Aug 13 (IANS) The Vice Consul of the US Consulate here Maureen Chao Saturday expressed her deep regrets over her remark - 'I became dirty and dark, like a Tamilian' - that has stirred a major controversy.

Chao made the remark at a function Friday in SRM University here.

The US Consulate has also termed her comment as inappropriate.

In a statement put up on its website, the US Consulate said: 'Yesterday (Friday) at a Study Abroad Orientation Program at SRM University, Vice Consul Maureen Chao gave a speech describing positive memories from her own study abroad experiences in India 23 years ago.'

'During the speech, Ms. Chao made an inappropriate comment. Ms. Chao deeply regrets if her unfortunate remarks offended anyone, as that was certainly not her intent.'

Chao, while narrating her experience in India in 1989 when she came to the country on a semester programme, spoke about her 72-hour train journey from New Delhi to Orissa.

She had the audience in splits while recalling her experience in exchanging her lower berth in the train compartment for an upper berth with a fellow passenger.

Chao said when she came out of the train after the journey, her skin got dusty and dirty and, after a pause, added that 'I became dirty and dark, like a Tamilian', landing herself into an avoidable controversy.

While non-Tamil students at the SRM University applauded her remarks, many others were upset.

'As Secretary Clinton recently noted, the US-India partnership is based on our shared values of democracy, liberty, and respect for religious and cultural diversity. The US Consulate in Chennai and the US Mission in India are committed to upholding these shared values,' said the Consulate statement.