Appreciations

Dr. A.C.S. Shaul Hameed : Man of great compassion

My beloved brother Dr. Deseguruselage Gedara Abdul Cader Shahul Hameed, popularly known as A.C.S. Hameed, was born on April 10, 1928, in Kurugoda, Akurana, in the Kandy District.

As a child, he had a precocious intellect that was as sharp as a razor and from what my parents and uncles would say, my brother was equally talented at mischief as well.

He had this ability to make friends so easily—friendships that endured. He was also concerned about the well-being of his community, irrespective of race and religion and in retrospect, I suppose it was natural that he became a legislator.

My brother entered politics in 1960, representing Harispattuwa in the Kandy District, which he continuously did without a break till his passing in 1999. This was a rare distinction for a legislator in our country at that time and indeed, this is emulated rarely even today.

My brother was fluent in Sinhala, Tamil, and English and gave well-prepared speeches on any subject in Parliament. I remember vividly how there was pin-drop silence when my brother delivered his parliamentary addresses. Such was the respect accorded by the Opposition that they always felt he had something constructive to add to their debates.

Hameed was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs by late President J.R. Jayawardene in 1977, a portfolio held by the Head of State from 1947 to 1977. He held the post from 1977 to 1989 and 1992 to 1994. In recognising a born diplomat, late President Jayawardene trusted my brother and was confident that he would safeguard and further Sri Lanka’s interests.

One must remember that, at that time, the Cold War was prevailing; and this meant that small countries like Sri Lanka had to tread lightly not to antagonise one power or the other. But, there was also the Non-Aligned Movement which enabled small countries such as Sri Lanka to exert her authority. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, my brother realised that Sri Lanka could exploit this position; he furthered Sri Lanka’s position by extending her good will to a variety of causes.

In this respect, my brother travelled to most countries to meet the Heads of States and ministers to popularise the open economy policy implemented by the then President. He also had to act as the Chairman of the Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) from 1977 to 1979.

In 1979, late President J.R. Jayawardene; while handing over the leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement to Fidel Castro in Havana; singled out his Foreign Minister A.C.S. Hameed for the excellent contributions which had been made by him in handing down the movement to President Jayawardene’s successor, undiluted and untarnished.

This frequent travel resulted in a lampooning in the newspapers, so much so it came to be that Hameed was called ‘All-Countries-Seen Hameed’. The cartoons lampooning him, drawn by Wijesoma, Yoonus, Geraine, and Abeysekara, were widely-published. This would have caused embarrassment for lesser a politician, but my brother was not undone by such criticisms. He was not a petty individual and did not bear any grudges. He made a publication of the cartoons and in its introduction, my brother graciously thanked the cartoonists, in which he said:

“Flippancy apart, to learn to laugh at oneself means educating oneself for democracy. This is a quality vitally essential for a politician. And the cartoonist is the politician’s helpmate in this task”.

My brother realised that he was first and foremost a legislator and took great care to ensure that his electorate, Harispattuwa, benefitted from the government’s policies. He never neglected this task. I can safely say that he converted Harispattuwa into a premier electorate, and his achievements are acknowledged even to this day by Harispattuwa’s constituents.

After his demise in 1999, many leading politicians and leaders of Sri Lanka wrote many an appreciation of late Dr. Hameed. Prof. G.L. Pieris; in his article ‘Skills of Negotiation’ in the Daily News, dated September 2, 2006; wrote about Dr. A.C.S. Hameed. He said that during the JVP insurrection of 1989;

“My predecessor in the Colombo University Vice-Chancellor’s Office, late Prof. Stanley Wijesundera, was gunned down in his own office. Prof. Patuwatuvitharana, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Moratuwa, was also killed.

A man of understanding; the late Dr. Shahul Hameed, I am personally aware that at one o’clock in the morning, if a Vice-Chancellor wished to speak to him on the telephone; he would come to the telephone.

The late Shahul Hameed was above all, a man of great gentleness and compassion. He was a true friend who talked, and he walked with characteristic gentleness which pervaded his personality. His word was his bond. The qualities which he upheld in all aspects of his life and politics were certainly no exception”.

Bradman Weerakoon, in his appreciation dated September 2, 2001, in the Sunday Times wrote of my brother as a “courageous man of peace”. He said:

“A.C.S. Hameed will always be remembered for the sustained efforts he made towards negotiating a political settlement to the ethnic conflict. He was centrally involved in at least three of the major attempts made in the past 15 years to resolve Sri Lanka’s intractable armed conflict through negotiation, namely the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement of 1987, the Premadasa LTTE talks of 1989 to 1990, and the All-Party Conference of 1990 to 1992, of which he was the Vice-Chairman. Almost all the Non-Tamil political figures of the South regarded A.C.S. Hameed as a credible personality with whom they could negotiate with”.

I have given a short survey of who was a truly multifaceted and gifted man. I am proud to call Dr. A.C.S. Hameed my brother. May Allah grant him Jennathul Firdouse. Ameen.

A.C.A. Ghafoor


Chandralekha Pinnaduwa Mendis : She lived a quiet life

It has been two years since Chandralekha Pinnaduwa Mendis left us after a long illness that kept her bedridden for almost three years.

She was a trainee at the Maharagama Training College’s 1969/70 English trainee batch. From the very beginning of her teaching career, she was mainly concerned about helping people and spent most of her time enriching the lives of others, especially for children who could not do their higher studies due to financial issues.

She always taught poor children, and it was a well-known fact by all when she was teaching in Anuradhapura. Even after she came back to Colombo, she continued her work the same way. She was always happy with herself and others.

We remember her this second year after her death as we really miss her. She had a brilliant memory and remembered almost any incident, name or birthday. She remembered the birthdays of all her friends and would always call them to convey her wishes.

We remember her for her magnanimity, as well as for giving everything that she had in her possession to others. Her life showed us how one could live happily while making others happy, too.

So, we remember you once again on this second year with gratitude and appreciate what you have done for all of us.

Your loving family

 



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