KUALA LUMPUR: Gobind Singh Deo, a prominent Indian-origin lawyer and politician in Malaysia has become the first Sikh in the Muslim-majority country's history to be appointed a Cabinet minister.
Deo, 44, who has been given the communications and multimedia portfolio, is among the two politicians of Indian descent inducted by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday.
The other Indian-origin lawmaker is M Kulasegaran from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), who has been made the human resource minister in the Cabinet by Mahathir, nearly two weeks after the 92-year-old veteran politician's shocking election win that ended Barisan Nasional's six decades of power.
Kulasegaran, 61, is the National Vice Chairman of the DAP and he represents Ipoh Barat, Perak.
He was first elected to the Parliament in 1997 in a by-election.
Deo represents Puchong constituency in the Malaysian Parliament and is the son of late Malaysian lawyer and politician Karpal Singh.
He was sworn in yesterday.
He was first elected as an MP in the 2008 general elections.
Deo was re-elected to the lower house, with an increased margin, in 2013.
He again won this year's election with a margin of 47,635 votes.
The Punjabi community in the country has hailed the appointment of Deo as a Cabinet minister.
"It is good to see Gobind Singh, a member of the Punjabi community in the Cabinet. It is a proud and happy occasion for our community. Other than being a recognition of his abilities, it is also a recognition for the long established Punjabi community in Malaysia," Miri Indian Association president, Councillor Karambir Singh was quoted as saying by the Borneo Post.
Malaysia, a Muslim-majority country, has nearly 1,00,000 Sikh population.
A total of 13 federal ministers took their oaths of office in a ceremony at the royal palace presided over by King Sultan Muhammad V.