Wednesday, March 01, 2006


Sons and daughters of Sri Lanka - Bakeer Markar

Sunday Observer Sep 7 2003

Seventh death anniversary : Al-Haj Bakeer Markar strove for national harmony
Late Al-Haj Bakeer Markar was born on 12th May 1917 at Hakeem Villa in Beruwala. He received his early education at St. Sebastian Vidyalaya in Colombo and joined Zahira College, Maradana. He later entered Law College and passed out as a proctor.

His multi-faceted life placed him in various positions as a teacher, lawyer, politician and above all as the Speaker of Parliament and Governor of the Southern Province. These high positions helped him a great deal to serve the masses.

Maradana Zahira College and its Principal late T. B. Jayah provided the necessary background and guidance to Bakeer Markar's public career.

He inherited the attributes needed for public service by birth. He was the hallmark of integrity, sincerity, simplicity and patience. These shining qualities stood him in good stead as a leader among the multi-ethnic society in Sri Lanka.

In the sphere of religion too, he made his mark as a devout Muslim. He made many speeches in Parliament urging the introduction of religious education in all the schools in Sri Lanka. He stood for inter-racial harmony in Sri Lanka and his proficiency in all three languages namely Tamil, Sinhala and English proved to be a big boon for this avowed interest in him.

The following excerpt of a speech he made in Parliament illustrates clearly the ambition he cherished for national harmony in Sri Lanka. "I feel proud of myself as a Muslim. At the same time I doubly feel proud of myself being a Sri Lankan. Because any citizen in this country can perform his religious duties independently. Islam treats the entire human race as the nation. We extend our hands of friendship to all the communities."

As a parliamentarian and also as the Speaker there, Bakeer Markar exhibited impartiality and commitment in his duties.

These qualities won him applause and praise from all the sections in Parliament. His god-fearing qualities helped him to overcome innumerable obstacles and challenges which confronted him both in politics and public life.

He worked tirelessly at the national and social levels while he devoted himself for the well-being of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.

His desire to mobilise Muslim youth at national level resulted in the formation of Muslim League Youth Fronts at village level throughout Sri Lanka.

He became the guiding force of this movement and made the voice of this movement as the voice of the Muslim community.

Bakeer Markar realised the importance of the media and media persons in this field and started the tabloid 'Dawn' in Tamil and English amidst many an obstacle.

In spite of his busy schedules in politics, he found time to involve himself in social activities as well. When the cyclone hit the Eastern province in 1979, he used his good office to get assistance from Iraq for the affected ones along with the Saddam Hussein village entire cost of which was met by the then Iraqi government.

He also rendered a yeoman service when a plane crash of Indonesian Haj pilgrims took place in Negombo. Relief activities led by him during this plane crash won him praise of the Indonesian government.

He also rendered immense service to the people affected by the breach of Kantalai tank in 1986.
This noble man with piety, love and affection has, left behind a heir to carry forward his vision and mission is the Mass Communication Minister Imtiaz Bakeer Markar.

Late Bakeer Markar who devoted his life time for the well-being of the Muslim community and for the promotion of national harmony in this country is indeed a national leader worthy of emulation. On this day when we remember him, let us strive hard ourselves to bring to fruition the vision he set forth in realising national harmony in Sri Lanka.

by S. M. Kamaldeen

Deshamanya Alhaj M. A. Bakeer Markar : Consistency was his strength

By Alhaj A. H. M. Azwer, MP, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs.- DN Wed Sep 9 2003

Alhaj Bakeer Markar was born on 12th May, 1917. He traces his ancestry to Sheikh Jamaludeen Al Maghdoomi, the pioneer Arab settler who established himself in the seaboard town of Beruwala. His father Hakeem Aleem Marikkar Mohamed Marikkar belonged to a family of physicians. He was educated at Zahira College.

He entered Law College in 1940 and passed out as a lawyer. He was President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Kalutara branch. He was founder president of All Ceylon Union of Muslim League Youth Fronts. He was also a senior vice president of the All Ceylon Muslim League. He was chairman of the Beruwala-Maradana Mosque until his demise. He passed away after 80 well spent years.

In a public career as teacher, lawyer, politician, Speaker of Parliament, Minister of State and Governor of the Southern Province for over a period of 50 years he made a profound contribution to the evolution of a democratic polity and society of which Sri Lanka can justly be proud of.

Alhaj Bakeer Markar was always accessible even to the poor and powerless and like his mentor Dudley Senanayake had not a trace of the arrogance that often, in the case of lesser men accompanies the attainment of high office. He was a self effacing political figure of great charm, high integrity, total incorruptibility and dignity. He was Speaker of the last Parliament. He was also the first Speaker of Parliament which was opened in 1982 at the new administrative capital Sri Jayewardenepura, Kotte. At the main entrance to picturesque building, his name has been described as its first Speaker. He adorned our legislature for 16 years and 1 day and for more than five years as its Speaker.

He was truly a people's speaker. It is significant fact to recall that before the escalation of war he was the last leader from the South who was accorded a civic reception in the North by the Jaffna Municipal Council attended by the mayor, community leaders and all the Tamil parliamentarians of that time when he visited the peninsula.

Alhaj Bakeer Markar was totally committed to the pursuit of peace. He vigorously campaigned for peace, harmony, unity and national integration. He was following in the footsteps of Dr. T. B. Jayah his mentor, political guru and freedom fighter. Mr. Bakeer Markar used to refer to Dr. Jayah as a "Magister Magistorum", a teacher of teachers. His political forte was his consistency in politics which he learned from his guru Dr. T. B. Jayah. he also acquired his political wisdom from Dr. T. B. Jayah who discovered his talent so early in his life and chose him as his campaign manager for his election. He was influenced by Dr. Jayah whose thinking was stimulated, nourished and sustained by the great ideals of Islam.

Bakeer Markar was also a great humanist. The influence of Islam and humanism not only moulded his character but also broadened and widened his vision and mental horizon.
When Alhaj Bakeer Markar became Speaker he did not confine himself to the precincts of "Mumtaz Mahal". He wanted to infuse in the Muslim community the activism, vigour and dynamism of youth. He advocated the formation of youth movements and himself reorganised an existing youth organisation and renamed it "All Ceylon Union of Muslim League Youth Fronts". He toured the whole island and formed over 560 branches. In his speeches Alhaj Bakeer Markar used to quote extensively from the "Dammapada" and the "Thirukural". He was awarded the Deshamanya. He used to carry the rosary and recite his prayers.

He was closely associated with Dudley Senanayake whom he greatly admired. Bakeer Markar's greatness lies in the fact that all he did, he did without flamboyance, without publicity or self-adulation and most importantly without any basic change in his demeanour, his manner of speech, his bearing or his lifestyle.

I had the privilege and good fortune to accompany Alhaj Bakeer Markar on his visits to India, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh and U.A.E, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Great Britain where he visited the House of Commons. He was received in the "RajGat" by S. Hidayathullah who was then the Vice President of the Republic of India. He was so meticulous in the performance of his religious obligations that special arrangements were made to attain Friday Jumma prayers. His wife was a constant source of inspiration in his public and private duties.

Alhaj Bakeer Markar was a believer in peace to establish political stability and economic prosperity. He believed in the promotion, encouragement, assistance and fostering of activities or advancement of national unity, inter-communal amity, racial and religious harmony, goodwill and peace among people.


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