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TV3 in Malaysia apologizes for calling Kamala Harris the 'daughter of an illegal immigrant'

Kamala Harris is the Vice-President elect of the United States and is the first woman to be elected to this role / Photo courtesy of AFP.


Malaysian television channel TV3 has come under intense criticism from people around the world and forced to apologize over a news report that called United States Vice-President elect, Kamala Harris, the daughter of an illegal immigrant.

In an official statement released by the television station, it said: "Referring to a Bulletin 1.30 news yesterday, we would like to apologize for an oversight on US Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris. She is actually the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, and not as reported.

The statement also said, "We regret over the error on her background”

The news report by TV3 drew swift criticism both in Malaysia and around the world, after a video clip of the news report was posted across multiple social media platforms, with many demanding that the TV channel issue an ‘official’ apology.

Ms. Harris, 55, created history earlier this month when she became the first woman to be elected as the Vice-President in the United States.

TV3 inaccurately reported that the Ms. Harris, was the daughter of "an illegal immigrant from India" and had "broken a stigma when she became the first black-skinned woman to serve as the Attorney General of California".

In fact, Ms. Harris' mother, Ms. Shimla Gopalan, was a biomedical scientist and had moved from India to the US to pursue her studies. Ms. Gopalan was 19 years old in 1958, when she was accepted to the University of California, Berkeley’s (UCB) master's program in nutrition and endocrinology.

While attending UCB, she met her husband, Donald J. Harris, an economics student from Jamaica who eventually became a professor at Stanford University. Ms. Gopalan eventually became a scientist at the prestigious Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

In Malaysia, many users of Twitter commented on TV3’s inaccuracies and made the following comments:

• "Bulletin TV3 just called Kamala Harris' parents illegal immigrants, you need to get your facts right."

• "Illegal immigrants? Bulletin TV3 needs to make an open correction."

• "Mother was a research scientist in cancer and was offered a place to work in a prestigious university... not an illegal immigrant."

Multiple Malaysian and international media contacted the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur for their comment after the TV3 report was aired, but embassy staff said they were aware of TV3’s inaccurate report, but would not issue any comments on the matter.




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