Appreciations : Dr. A.C.S. Hameed | Daily News

Appreciations : Dr. A.C.S. Hameed

Exemplar of unity

When I was searching for academic books from my grandfather’s old bookshelves in Galle, I found a book titled ‘Parliament of Ceylon’ which had been published in the late 60's. When I turned some pages over, there were pictures of many personalities with their profiles, who served the nation through genuine politics. Dr. A.C.S Hameed was one them, who served the country 40 years, being a gentle politician representing 78 percent of Sinhalese-Buddhists, as well as 22 percent of other minorities in Harispattuwa. When I went through his profile, I thought of writing this article to commemorate his 19th death anniversary, which fell on September 3.

Abdul Cader Shahul Hameed, commonly known as A.C.S. Hameed, was born on April 10, 1928, to a reputed family in Kurugoda, Akurana. He had received his primary education at St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota and later, joined Vijay College and Zahira College in Matale, for his secondary education.

He had begun his political career by 1956, joining the United National Party (UNP) with a clear vision of serving the country. In March, 1960, he was elected the second Member of Parliament for Akurana (later Harispattuwa). In 1970, he became the first Member of Parliament. He won seven consecutive general elections and was an undefeated character until his demise in 1999. He was elected by 78 percent of Sinhalese-Buddhists in Harispattuwa as he was highly admired and respected by them.

In 1977, he was appointed the first Foreign Minister in J.R. Jayewardene’s government; a portfolio held till then by the Prime Minister of the country. As a distinguished parliamentarian and visionary, Dr. Hameed used the opportunity to build close relationships with UN bodies and also began to work closely with other member-countries of the Non-Aligned Movement during a turbulent period in Sri Lanka’s history.

He was a member of the United Nations Advisory Board on Disarmament Studies. As a Foreign minister, he had the opportunity of meeting many world leaders to solve problems in that era. Dr. Hameed played the role of an envoy to raise Sri Lanka’s reputation abroad and in doing so, strengthened the country's economic, trade and cultural relationships with many nations. He stood for a greater understanding amongst South Asian nations, for the resolution of common problems faced by its people. Dr. Hameed stood for national unity and sought to break the barriers that divided society. He admired other religious activities with respect and dignity. He helped with work related to Buddhist and Hindu temples, as well as mosques in Harispatuwa sans any religious barriers. He also contributed to build a Buddhist Seema Malekeya at Waratenne, Hallouwa, which is the only place used to ordain novice monks in the Central province. He also contributed to build two Bouddha Bala Mandalayas in Katugastota and Alawathugoda.

He held the portfolio of Foreign Affairs Minister for 12 years and afterwards, served in different portfolios, as Justice Minister and Higher Education Minister, under the R. Premadasa administration.

Dr. Hameed always played a key role in parliament debates, contributing important speeches on many subjects. He was a senior member of the legislature. During his tenure, he settled many disputes which other mediators could not. Doctors’ and university students’ protests were among them.

In 1978, he was conferred an Honourary Doctorate for Political Science at Hankuk University in Seoul, South Korea and in 1990, he was awarded a doctorate by the Sri Jayawardenepura University. He also authored many books, including 'The Pursuit of Peace', 'Foreign Policy Perspective of Sri Lanka', 'The Owl and the Lotus' and 'Disarmament – A Multilateral Approach'.

Dr. Hameed was an exemplar of national unity. He was a clean politician and a role-model for the public. The government issued a commemorative stamp in 2002 for his services to the country. He passed away on September 3, 1999. We pray that Allah may grant him a special place in Jenna.

Farhath Saleem


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