Kuala Lumpur: Gobind Singh Deo, an Indian-origin Sikh politician in Malaysia, has become a cabinet minister, the first member of the minority community in that country’s history to be appointed as a minister.
Deo, 45, who has been given the communications and multimedia portfolio, is among the two politicians of Indian descent included in the Pakatan Harapan coalition’s Cabinet.
The other Indian-origin lawmaker is M Kulasegaran from the Democratic Action Party, who has been made the human resource minister.
Deo, who is a prominent Malaysian lawyer and politician, represents the Puchong constituency in the Malaysian Parliament. He is also the national legal bureau secretary of the Democratic Action Party and he is known as the “little lion of Puchong”. He is the son of late DAP leader and lawyer Karpal Singh.
Deo was sworn in during a ceremony at the National Palace yesterday after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad included him in the new Cabinet.
The Sikh politician was elected to Parliament at the 2008 election. In 2009 he was suspended from Parliament for 12 months for calling the Prime Minister, Najib Razak, a “murderer” in a parliamentary debate and insulting the deputy speaker.
Deo was re-elected to the lower house with an increased margin in 2013 and he again won this year’s election with a margin of 47,635 votes. The Punjabi community in general and the Sikhs in the country, in particular, have hailed the appointment of Deo as the 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 has nearly 1,00,000 Sikh population.