Gobind Singh Deo is Malaysia’s first Sikh minister
Gobind Singh Deo on Monday became the first member of Malaysia’s Sikh minority to be appointed a federal minister.
Deo, who represents Puchong in the Parliament and is the son of late politician Karpal Singh, was sworn in during a ceremony at the National Palace after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad included him in the new cabinet.
He was given the communications and multimedia portfolio, according to reports in the Malaysian media.
The New Straits Times quoted the website Asia Samachar as saying that Deo, 45, is also the first Sikh minister in an Asian country other than India. It added that the only other countries with Sikhs ministers at the federal level were India and Canada.
Deo’s father Karpal Singh is had a formidable reputation as a lawyer and opposition politician that earned him the nickname “Tiger of Jelutong”. He died in a car accident in 2014.
Deo was first elected as an MP in the 2008 general election. He was re-elected to the lower house, with an increased margin, in 2013. He won in this year’s election with a margin of 47,635 votes.
Malaysia’s Punjabi community expressed its joy at the elevation of Deo, the Borneo Post reported.
“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,” said Karambir Singh, president of the Miri Indian Association.
Deo was among the two politicians of Indian descent included in the Pakatan Harapan coalition’s Cabinet. The other is M Kulasegaran from the Democratic Action Party, who was named the human resource minister.