“The Daily Show” is being criticized after a segment about Britain’s first Asian and nonwhite prime minister, Rishi Sunak.
Monday’s episode included a 6 1/2 minute segment in which senior correspondent Ronny Chieng said Sunak wasn’t Asian because he was Indian.
“I know everyone is excited that this is the first Asian prime minister, but let’s be clear: Indians are not Asians, OK? They’re still people — great people — just not Asian people,” Chieng said in the segment.
Chieng, who was born in Malaysia, grew up in Singapore and now lives in New York, said Indians are not considered Asian.
“When I was down at the Dim Sum Palace this morning, me and the fellas weren’t like, ‘Oh … that’s me up there! I feel seen.’ I love how Indians try to have it both ways, like being Indian and Asian,” he said. “Pick a lane, OK? I bet if I show up in a Bollywood film, I’m just going to blend right in, right? Because we’re just one people just having a good time.”
Neither Chieng nor “The Daily Show” responded to requests for comment.
In the U.K., the term “Asian” often refers to people from South Asia or who are of South Asian descent due to its large South Asian population and the long history of the British colonization of India. Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis make up the largest demographic of Asians and Asian British in the country, according to the Office of National Statistics.
Twitter users were quick to criticize Chieng’s comments.
Host Trevor Noah also talked about the apprehension of white British residents about the new prime minister before using an Indian accent while imitating Sunak, who was born in England.
He joked that he felt a little bad for “England’s racists” because although Sunak is a part of the Conservative Party, “England’s racists” voted for Brexit specifically to keep Britain white and that vote started a seven-year chain of events, which led directly to the appointment of an Indian British prime minister.
Noah explained a clip in which a caller on a radio show says he’s a member of the Conservative Party but does not like that Sunak is not white.
“I don’t understand. What is this caller scared of? Does he think Sunak is going to walk up the podium on his first day in office and be like (in a British accent), ‘It is the greatest privilege of my life to be able to give back to the country I owe so much to and to show my gratitude, I just want to say (in an Indian accent), I’m selling the entire country to India! That’s right! Revenge time, you bastards!’”
Twitter users found it inappropriate for Noah to use an Indian accent at the end of his bit meant to empower South Asians.