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Ethnic Chinese named Malaysia's new finance minister

AP  |  Kuala Lumpur 

New Malaysian today appointed an ethnic Chinese as minister, the first ethnic minority to hold the powerful post in 44 years.

In addition to naming Lim Guan Eng, a former state chief minister, as minister, Mahathir also named former as and as

The three are leaders of the four parties in Mahathir's alliance, which scored a stunning election victory Wednesday by ousting the coalition that had ruled since independence from Britain in 1957. It was a remarkable comeback for Mahathir, who was for 22 years until 2003 and is now the world's oldest at 92.

The minister has been an ethnic Muslim Malay since 1974 and the appointment of Lim, a who led the wealthy northern state of since 2008, reflects reforms pledged by Mahathir's alliance to heal racial divisions in the country blamed on decades-old preferential policies.

"I don't consider myself as a Chinese, I am a Malaysian. I will ensure that the interests of all Malaysians are protected," Lim, 57, said at a conference.

Mahathir said his Cabinet would have 25 members and that he would name the remaining members this coming week. His deputy is Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the country's first female and head of another party in the pact.

Mahathir also said a special five-member council would be set up to advise the government on economic and financial matters. The council will include Hong Kong-based tycoon Robert Kuok, Malaysia's richest man, he said.

Mahathir also said he had instructed the immigration department to blacklist scandal-ridden former Prime Minister and his wife from leaving the country. Najib said on earlier Saturday that he was planning to take a short vacation, but denied he was fleeing.

Mahathir said there was sufficient evidence for an investigation into Najib, in reference to a massive corruption scandal involving the that Najib set up and is being investigated in the and other countries. US investigators say Najib's associates stole and looted USD 4.5 billion from the fund, but Najib denies any wrongdoing.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, May 12 2018. 17:10 IST