By Latheef Farook –
Gentleman politician Abdur Razak Mohamed Munsoor, ardent advocate of Tamil-Muslim unity and known for his honest politics and commitment to the country, left us on Tuesday 24 July 2017. Munsoor, the best of the last generation of Muslim politician, was buried in his hometown in Kalmunai following day.
Vast number of people of all walks of life, most of whom were seen weeping, demonstrated that Munsoor was more popular in death than when he was alive.
Summing about Munsoor his classmate Mrs. Rajes Kandiah had this to state for a souvenir to honour his services to the country;
“The people of Batticaloa District, claim A.R.M. Munsoor as their own son; while I claim him as a dear friend, whom I can call by his first name. We were at school together until we parted ways, but the bond of friendship continues up to date. Even as a student, Munsoor at high school or law-college was diligent and showed promise of attaining great heights. He always had the welfare of the people at heart and worked tirelessly to uplift the poor. This he did, with dedication, not for fame or popularity, but for the sake of helping the less-fortunate in the community.
Munsoor could have plunged into the lucrative practice of law, but decided to enter the field of politics to serve the nation as well as the people of his constituency. As the Minister of Trade and Commerce in the U.N.P. government, he established positive relationship with foreign countries. As an Ambassador to Kuwait and Bahrain he established peace and goodwill between Sri Lanka and International partners.
Munsoor, is a gentleman to the finger tips. He could have minted money as a lawyer, Parliamentarian, Minister and Social worker. But his hands were clean and his modest life did not demand wealth. He continued to live a simple life. His charm and stature endears him to the people he associates with. Thus, concluded Ms Rajes Kandiah.
Munsoor always worked for communal harmony and his thoughts were on his people till his death. During my many conversations he often told me that;
“In the east Muslims and Tamils need to live together in harmony in their own interests as the other communities need to live in harmony in the rest of the country? I always remember that together with Muslims large number of Tamils too voted for me and elected to represent them in the parliament. I still cherish those golden days of communal harmony and peace which were devastated by the unfortunate subsequent developments due to short sighted and selfish politics “.
In a message to a souvenir to mark a reception to Munsoor by his people in Kalmunaikudy on 28 August 1992 in recognition of his service late Neelan Tiruchelvan said;
“Munsoor was an intimate friend of the family and late M Tiruchelvam with whom he worked held in high esteem. He was sensitive to the political struggle that grappled the imagination of the youth of the country, from the time that he was a law student in the mid fifties. During the language agitation in 1958, he was the victim of an arbitrary assault by unruly mobs which disrupted the Satyagraha campaign in Galle Face”.
However, subsequent political opportunism managed to sell lies and deception to hoodwink the people to politically isolate him. It took almost quarter century for the people in the east to realize the historic blunder of abandoning Munsoor and turning to suicidal divisional politics. To undo the damage people in and around Kalmunai organized a reception for Munsoor on 19 October 2013.
Prominent people who contributed articles for the souvenir regretted their mistake and hailed the sincere service of Munsoor. They said in one voice that his services remain ever green in the hearts of both Muslims and Tamils alike.
Munsoor once told me that when he was Minister of Commerce and Trade a leading businessman went to see him with a proposal to sell a ministry business to him indicating that Munsoor would be rewarded. Enraged Munsoor got up from his seat and showed the billionaire businessman the door saying” never to enter the office so long he remains a minister”.
This is far cry from the reputation of present politicians accused of deals and corruption.
He contributed a great deal for the establishment of South Eastern University which appreciated his role and honoured him by conferring a doctorate at a function attended by President Maithripala Sirisena.
Sri Lankan community in the Australia city of Melbourne felicitated Munsoor who was there last year to attend the swearing ceremony of his daughter Maryam Nalimudeen as a Barrister/Solicitor by the Adelaide South Australian Supreme Court.
Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Ilaihi Rajihoon