19th commemorative anniversary - September 10:
Deshamanya M.A. Bakeer Markar
Deshamanya Marhoom Al Haj Mohammed Abdul Bakeer Markar's ancestry is
traced to Sheik Jamaluddeen-Al-Maghdoomi, an Arab settler who settled
down 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 as a lawyer he had a
lucrative practice and 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 was
enchanted to politics as a consequence and the public was enchanted to
elect him as their representative.
Bakeer Markar's life as a politician was even more illustrious than
his life as a lawyer. He was anelected member of the Beruwala Urban
Council and later as the Chairman. He was the MP for Beruwala from March
1960 and continued to be so 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 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
immortalized in Sri Lankan parliamentary history of being the last
Speaker of the old Parliament and, the First Speaker of the new
Parliament. His service to the people was so great it was easy for his
son Imthiaz Bakeer Markar to be elected to serve the same electorate as
the Member of Parliament and even to serve as a Government 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
families 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 path of a trilingual. 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 normalization.Similarly, his experiences as
Governor has left many lessons to junior Governors 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 goodwill Ambassador of Sri Lanka. His close
connections with the Iraqi Government enabled him to build a village in
Eravur, and were the founder President of the Iraq-Sri Lanka Friendship
Association and remained in this position until his demise. He was
honored and appreciated by the President of Indonesia for his assistance
to Indonesians when an aircraft crashed with Indonesians on board. Not
only was he a son of our soil, he was also 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 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
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.
On the remembrance of 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
& 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,
Governor of the Eastern Province