M.A. Bakeer Markar

The ancestry of M. A. Bakeer Markar is traced to Sheikh Jamaludeen-al-Maghdoomi, the pioneer Arab settler who settled down in the sea board town of Beruwala. M.A. Bakeer Markar was born to Hakeem Alia Marikkar and Ismail Marikkar Rahila Umma on 12th of May 1917.

His father belonged to a family of physicians, whose ancestors too were physicians.

He joined St. Sebastian’s School Hulfsdorp in 1924 and then went on to Zahira College Colombo for higher education.

He was twice appointed Speaker in the school’s student parliament. He also led the Sinhala and Tamil literary Associations.

Due to his outstanding Oratory and Writing skills, he was appointed as the Chief Editor for the school's Magazine namely “CRESCENT”.

While engaging in editorial work he had to face the London Matriculation Examination which was considered a great qualification during that era. After qualifying in that examination he entered Ceylon Law College in 1939. His legal career was interrupted during World War II as he took up duties in Civil Defense Services in 1942.

As a lawyer he had a lucrative practice. He was also the President of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, Kalutara branch.

He was Founder President of the All Ceylon Union of Muslim League Youth Fronts. He was also Senior Vice President of the All Ceylon Muslim League.

He hailed from Maradana Beruwala, where history revealed that the early Arabs who arrived in Ceylon built the first ever mosque in Ceylon, namely “Masjid-ul Abrar”. He took great pains in renovating the Masjid with the help of his village community. In doing so he was careful in retaining the shape and original architectural beauty of the mosque.

He excelled in International Relations as well. His close connection with the Iraqi government enabled him to build the Saddam Hussain Village in Eravur in the East. He was the Founder President of the Iraqi-Sri Lanka Friendship Association and remained in this position until his demise.

In the early 1980’s when a plane carrying Indonesian Hajj Pilgrims on return journey crashed in Sri Lanka, it was Bakeer Markar, the then Speaker of Parliament, who rushed to the scene and took personal interest to have the bodies of the pilgrims dispatched expeditiously to Indonesia. The Indonesian Hajj Memorial Building at Katunayake was initiated by him.

In this manner, following the footsteps of his political guru late T.B Jayah, the late M.A. Bakeer Markar blossomed into one of Sri Lanka’s senior politicians. Honesty of purpose and sincerity in politics won him many friends.

At the national level, during his parliamentary career he had the vision to serve the nation. This he fulfilled with determination and firm commitment. In the year 1992, M. A. Bakeer Markar was awarded the title Deshamanya (Pride of the Nation), which is the second highest national honour of Sri Lanka awarded by the Government of Sri Lanka. To commemorate this exemplary Sri Lankan leader, a postage stamp was issued on the 25th of June 2008.

Political Career

  • Elected to Beruwala Urban Council in 1950
  • First MP to represent Beruwala (March 1960 – April 1960)
  • Deputy Speaker (August 1977 – September 1978)
  • Speaker (September 1978 – August 1983)
  • Served as Acting Head of State when President and Prime Minister both were out of the country (1981)
  • Cabinet Minister Without Portfolio (1983 – 1988)
  • Governor Southern Province (June 1988 – December 1993)

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