Connect with us

Opinion

Deshamanya M.A. Bakeer Markar

Published

on

4th Commemorative Anniversary

Deshamanya Marhoom Al Haj Mohammed Abdul Bakeer Markar’s ancestry is traced to Sheik Jamaluddeen-Al-Maghdoomi, an Arab settler in Beruwala. His father Hakeem Alia Marikkar Mohomed Marikkar belonged to a family of physicians, whose ancestors too were physicians.

He was born in Beruwala on May 12, 1917 and educated at Zahira College, Colombo under the tutelage of Dr. T.B. Jayah, the Principal of Zahira. He held a number of responsible and honorary positions at Zahira, such as Editor of the College Magazine, President of the College Majilis and the Literary Association.

He entered Colombo Law College in 1940 and after passing out as a lawyer he joined the unofficial bar o0f Kalutara and enjoyed a lucrative practice. Later he was elected President of the Kalutara District Branch of the Bar Association of Ceylon.

Since his childhood, he exhibited his humble qualities which I presume was the road to achieve greatness, win respect from people of all walks of life and intimacy from those around. No wonder he took to politics as a consequence and the public was decided to elect him as their representative.

Bakeer Markar’s life as a politician was even more illustrious than his career as a lawyer. He was elected a member of the Beruwala Urban Council and later appointed Chairman. He was the MP for Beruwala from March 1960 and continued to re-elected from April 1965 to March 1970. He was the Deputy Speaker from August 4, 1977 to September 7, 1978, the Speaker from September 1978 to August 1983, a Cabinet Minister and the Governor of the Southern Province from June 13, 1988 to December 1993. He even served as the acting Head of State while the President and Prime Minister were out of the country.

His name, which was equal to honesty and integrity in politics, is immortalised in Sri Lankan parliamentary history of being the last Speaker of the former Parliament and, the First Speaker of the new Parliament. His service to the people was so great that it was easy for his son Imitiaz Bakeer Markar to be elected as a parliametarian to serve the same electorate and even to serve as a Minister.

Bakeer Markar was an accomplished parliamentarian and was truly, a dedicated representative of his people who did not care for ethnicity, race or religion and received much support from the Sinhala community than any Muslim candidate. This I learnt personally from my in-laws in Beruwala. His non-consideration of ethnicity, language and religion was well observed from the fact that he educated his son Imitiaz at Ananda College, a leading Buddhist educational institution, where he also showed his prowess in debating in Sinhala, like his father, going on the same trilingual path. He was impartial and strove to promote harmony among all ethnic and religious groups. He served the people, who trusted him.

Bakeer Markar’s morals in politics was so firm he did not want to read the Address to the Provincial Council in 1994, as wished by Colombo. I had to be involved in a tough

assignment, as I remember, to adjust his stances to appease the powers in Colombo and to bring political sensitivities to normalisation.Similarly, his experiences as Governor has left many lessons to his successors like me.

As a Muslim leader he was the founder President of the All Ceylon Union of Muslim League Youth Fronts and the Vice President of the All Ceylon Muslim League. Further he was the Chairman of the Beruwala, Maradana Mosque Jamaath until his demise.

Bakeer Markar served as a goodwill Ambassador of Sri Lanka. His close connections with the Iraqi Government enabled him to build a village in Eravur, and was the founder President of the Iraq-Sri Lanka Friendship Association and remained in this position until his demise. He was honoured and appreciated by the President of Indonesia for his assistance rendereed to the when an Indonesian airliner crashed with many Indonesians on board. Not only was he a son of our soil, he was also a citizen of the world.

Youth Development and Fostering the youth for Community Development and Service, was another aspect, which he actively promoted, and, he founded the All Ceylon Muslim Youth Front, with sincere objectives, and now, being successfully continued by his son Imtiaz Bakeer Markar.Bakeer Markar’s services in the field of education, towards the Muslim Community were unique.

When all these aspects of the Late Bakeer Markar’s life is considered in a nutshell, one may consider a very wholesome life of a man who dedicated himself to the society, without any discrimination, dedicated to politics, youth, religion, especially to the Muslim community without any problems created to other communities and treating others as equals. He imagined a world better than the one he lived in and strove to make it a reality.

He could be therefore considered as an emblem of a great personality whose principles of life should be emulated by the current leaders, especially those who try to create social commotion built on religion, ethnicity, language, social inequality and mean economic issues. May he be remembered for all those great qualities which should be reintroduced to this society. At this instance when looking back at his life history and review lessons learnt, we may easily conclude that we need many more Bakeer Markars to make Sri Lanka a greater nation.

In commemorating the death of Bakeer Marker, I’m reminded of the Quranic teaching in AL Baqarah 2.197, which says “Take a provision with you for your journey. But the best provision is al- taqwa which is piety and righteousness”. He deserves to be respected because he was conscious and cognizant of Allah, of truth, of the rational reality, “piety, fear of God”. Therefore, Bakeer Marker’s life was a sincere collection of al taqwa for his journey beyond this life and this world. It may be best if his life is emulated by politicians, social workers and civil leaders.

– Austin Fernando

Former Secretary to the President, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to India and Governor of Eastern Province



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion

Another mother and son to be admired

Published

on

It was with a sense of awe, admiration and joy that I read the piece by Capt. Elmo Jayawardene in The Island of 25 Oct. 2021, on the achievements of Dr Pahalagedera Jayathilaka, a handicapped youth from almost the wilderness in a village called Dandu Bendi Ruppa in Nuwara Kalaviya who had achieved almost the impossible, gaining a super First Class from the University of Moratuwa and a PhD in Fluid Dynamics from the National University of Singapore. Thereafter he has been attached to the University of Oxford as a Research Scientist. All credit for his achievements has to go to his mother, Pahalagedera Dingiriamma who did everything within her means to enable her son to achieve the almost impossible, by cultivating vegetables to feed, educate and raise eight offspring.

Dr. Jayathilaka is a person we Sri Lankans have to be proud of and also get children to emulate his achievements. The most important thing about this patriotic son of the soil is that he wants to return to Sri Lanka and give something back to his motherland in return for the free education he has had. This is when most of the youth are clamouring to go abroad.

There is another mother and a handicapped son who have to be admired. The boy is Brian Eaton who had just received his Ordinary Level examination results and he has got A grades for all nine subjects. He was featured in the Sirasa TV programme Lakshapathi, which is the local equivalent of Who wants to be a millionaire. He lives with his mother, who is a seamstress, in Mattakkuliya. He is blind. He has read over 200 books in braille. The mother had to take him by bus to the Blind School in Ratmalana. It used to take about two hours to get to the school and another two hours to return home. As the mother had to wait till school is over, she used to take the material and cut same while waiting for her son. She does the sewing after returning home.

Though they are Christians, Brian had wanted to study Buddhism and seemed to know more about Buddhism than most Buddhist youth.

Brian was accommodated as a special case on the Lakshapathi programme without his having to face the “fastest finger first” selection process. His knowledge of all subjects was such that he was able to answer many questions without any assistance. He came up to the Rs. 2.0 million penultimate question without much difficulty and answered it correctly. Then it was the final question for the jackpot prize of Rs. 3.0 million. Brian decided to withdraw from the programme without attempting to answer the final question as he was not very sure. He withdrew securing Rs.2.0 million. Before he stepped down from the hot seat, the quiz master asked him what would have been his answer. And to everybody’s dismay the answer he gave was correct and he missed out on another Rs. one million.

Brian is an exceptional child who has successfully overcome all disabilities, with the untiring efforts of his mother, to reach the top of the programme which had evaded many of the normal children who had participated in this programme. We wish him success in all his future endeavours.

MH Nissanka Warakaulle

Continue Reading

Opinion

Warnapura: A colourful cricketing giant

Published

on

Bandula Warnapura secured his name in the annals of Sri Lankan cricket as the country’s first Test Cricket Captain. As Sri Lanka’s opening batter, he faced the first delivery bowled by Bob Willis during the inaugural test match played between Sri Lanka and England on the historic day of 17 Feb. 1982, at the P Sara Stadium (previously known as Colombo Oval), in Borella. Further, he scored the first test run for his country. Records are usually meant to be broken as it happens regularly in the sports arena world over. But Warnapura’s feats will never be disintegrated. What a privileged position to be in! It is an exceedingly rare combination of persistent commitment, endurance, and of course, luck, over a long period of time.

My happy memories of Bandula Warnapura were linked with our school days about 12 years prior to the country’s first test match.

I vividly remember his exceptional achievements during his school career at Nalanda College between 1968 and 1972. Towards the latter part of this period he rose to fame of an exceptional degree. His name became a common household one; in fact, no other school cricketer at the time received such media attention. Two other contemporary school cricketers who came close to him were Duleep Mendis and Roy Dias; a wonderful triumvirate who dominated school cricket in the early 1970’s.

In 1971, Warnapura everyone expected the batting machine to break the existing batting record of the Ananda – Nalanda annual cricket encounter (popularly known as “Battle of Maroons”) when he captained the Nalanda cricket team. However, he only managed to score half a century (53), which brought much disappointment to many cricket fans.

As a grade 9 student of Ananda College at the time, I still treasure fond memories of his record-breaking epic innings of 118 not out in 1972 at the big match. He broke the 44-year-old batting record (111) held by another Nalandian P M Jayatilaka in 1928. I was in the Ananda (rival) pavilion; the overwhelming expectation of the other boys of the Ananda pavilion was against him reaching a glorious century. However, I was quietly feeling happy for him and honestly wanted him to achieve the century and surpass the existing record. After breaking the then batting record, the Nalanda pavilion was ecstatic and Bandula Warnapura became a school cricketing legend. I remember well, the legendary cricket commentator Premasara Epasinghe staunchly supporting Warnapura throughout his career.

W arnapura’s subsequent cricketing career was remarkable and by accident in 1979 he captained SriLanka and won a World Cup match against the star-studded Indian team (Gavaskar, Kapil Dev et al.). Most believe that as an ICC associate member, beating an ICC full member was the precursor state for the elevation of the Island nation to the test status in 1981. It was a dream come true for all cricket fans in Sri Lanka. However, at this time around, Warnapura’s cricketing career was on the decline and ended abruptly after the ill-advised rebel South Africa tour in 1984.

Bandula Warnapura’s sad demise at a relatively young age is indeed extremely sorrowful news.

Thank you Bandula for giving us fond memories with great nostalgia during our school days. May you have a fruitful journey of sansara and finally attain the supreme bliss of nibbana!

Prof Ananda Jayasinghe

University of Peradeniya

Continue Reading

Opinion

Ali Sabry’s equation

Published

on

by Rohana R. Wasala

Justice Minister Ali Sabry is reported to have said the traditional brand of Islamism which has been practised by Muslims in Sri Lanka for centuries has to be preserved while the religion should not be practised according to the likes of one group. He reportedly made this remark after taking part in a religious ceremony at the Dewatagaha Mosque, Colombo. (This architecturally impressive place of Islamic worship is a proud national monument situated at the heart of the commercial capital; it is a symbol of the peaceful coexistence of Muslims with Sri Lankans of other faiths.) The Minister is reported to have added that unity among Muslims in Sri Lanka should also be preserved just like preserving unity among various religious and ethnic groups.

Sri Lankans of all beliefs interested in the early restoration of the externally disturbed customary religious and communal harmony subscribe to that laudable view with the necessary alterations. But will his equation of Islam with Islamism work in the current context.

(CAVEAT: There is no way to check the authenticity of the news report in question unless Minister Ali Sabry confirms or denies what is claimed in it about him. It has not been indicated in which language he expressed these ideas. Did he actually use the words Islam and Islamism speaking in English or their equivalents speaking in another language, or has the media arbitrarily translated into English, using those two terms, what the speaker said in another language?)

But for the purpose of this essay, I assume that the Minister’s words have been reported accurately. I don’t know whether Muslims in Sri Lanka have started using the words Islam and Islamism interchangeably, which, of course, I’d have thought, is a near impossibility, given the universally recognised difference in meaning between the two terms. Google.com defines Islam as ‘the religion of the Muslims, a monotheistic faith regarded as revealed through Muhammad as the Prophet of Allah’. Islamism on the other hand, is generally taken to mean Islamist fundamentalism associated with violent militancy, which is purely a religiopolitical movement. The Wikipedia defines Islamism thus: “Islamism (also often called political Islam or Islamic fundamentalism) is a political ideology which posits that modern states and regions should be reconstituted in constitutional, economic and judicial terms, in accordance with what is conceived as a revival or a return to authentic Islamic practice in its totality”.

(By the way, the Wikipedia is no longer regarded as an easily available smart tool for the amateur researcher for the reason that the entries are made by voluntary editors at various levels of scholarship and academic authority and authenticity. The Wikipedia user must be sufficiently educated and well informed to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. In this case, the definition given is sound enough.) Explaining the relation between Islam and Islamism, the Wikipedia says:

“The relationship between the notions of Islam and Islamism has been subject to disagreement. Hayri Abaza argues that the failure to distinguish between Islam and Islamism leads many in the West to support illiberal Islamic regimes, to the detriment of progressive moderates who seek to separate religion from politics. A writer for the International Crisis Group maintains that “the conception of ‘political Islam’” is a creation of Americans to explain the Iranian Islamic Revolution and (that) apolitical Islam was a historical fluke of the “short-lived era of the heyday of secular Arab nationalism between 1945 and 1970”, and it is quietist-political Islam, not Islamism, that requires explanation.

“Another source distinguishes Islamist from Islamic “by the fact that the latter refers to a religion and culture in existence over a millennium, whereas the first is a political/religious phenomenon linked to the great events of the 20th century”. Islamists have, at least at times, defined themselves as “Islamiyyoun/Islamists” to differentiate themselves from Muslimun/Muslims. Daniel Pipes describes Islamism as a modern ideology that owes more to European utopian ideologies and “isms” than to traditional Islamic religion.”

When Ali Sabry reportedly made the particular remark, he probably had in mind what the Wiki quote refers to as ‘quietist or political Islam’ (which, in common parlance, is called ‘moderate Islam’). Moderate Islam is not regarded as a problem, but Islamism definitely is. It need not be reiterated that the problem of Islamism affects the whole world. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, Islamic/Islamist fundamentalism came to prominence relatively recently, although it has been smoldering since the mid-20th century as some commentators have pointed out. Given this background, responsible speakers do not use the two words (Islam and Islamism) as alternatives. I believe that minister Ali Sabry speaks as a responsible person. That is why I am sceptical about what has been reported of his speech. But these are strange times. Anything is possible.

However, it is somewhat inconceivable that Ali Sabry, who has been entrusted by the President with such a great responsibility or an array of responsibilities as he bears in a government that sought election on the main platform of “One Law, One Country” and that is poised to bring in a new constitution, made this thoughtless identification of Islam with Islamism.

The President wanted to assure the Muslim community that they were safe and would not be subjected to discrimination under his rule, particularly in the face of incursions into Sri Lanka of rampant Islamist extremism, although most Muslims did not vote for him at the presidential election in November 2019. It is conceivable that the President’s more important aim in appointing Ali Sabry to that key post was to enlist the participation of the Muslim community in governance despite their implicit initial refusal of his goodwill. It is unlikely that Ali Sabry has forgotten this.

Continue Reading

Trending