Malaysian Premier Najib Razak today unveiled a new cabinet which included five ethnic Indian leaders, but no face from a powerful ethnic Chinese party for first time in the country's history.
P Wayathamoorthy, chairman of Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), who decided to back Najib in the May 5 general elections, has been rewarded and made a deputy Minister.
"Over the past months and years, divisions have opened up in Malaysian society. Now it is time for all of us, in government and beyond, to put the bitterness behind us," Najib said while introducing his 57-member ministry, including 30 cabinet ministers.
"Together we will act to bring about national reconciliation, secure Malaysia's economic future and build a stronger, more harmonious society."
Najib said that Waythamoorthy would be a deputy minister in the prime minister's department.
The appointment is seen by political analysts as a reward for his role in ensuring ethnic Indians to return to the ruling coalition of Barisan Nasional (BN).
In the 2008 general elections, ethnic a Indians stayed away from the BN largely due to a massive rally organised by the Hindraf.
The Malaysian Indian Congress, which is the largest ethnic Indian political party, took four positions in the government, with party president G Palanivel taking over as
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
S Subramaniam, the deputy president of the BN component party, has been named the new Health Minister.
MIC vice-president M Saravanan will be will the deputy minister of Youth and Sport.
P Kamalanathan, the party's youth coordinator, will be Deputy Minister II in the Ministry of Education and Higher Learning.
In the May 5 Elections, MIC won four out of nine parliamentary seats contested, which is one more than its three-seat victory in 2008.
In April, Waythamoorthy signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the BN government to extend the support of the ethnic Indians towards the coalition.
This created a rift between his brother and Hindraf co-founder P Uthayakumar .
The ethnic Indian community makes up nine per cent of the country's 29 million people.
It is also the first time in history of Malaysian politics, that the cabinet for the first time has no ministers from the ethnic Chinese party, Malaysia Chinese Association.
The ethnic Chinese party had decided that it would not accept any government posts if its results in the recently the general election would be poorer than that of the previous elections.
Najib said the cabinet included a mix of technocrats and civil