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Former Deputy Mayor of Colombo Abu - M. S. Aboobakr

ABU - the late Mohamed Salim Aboobakr, former Deputy Mayor of Colombo in 1950 will be remembered with love and gratitude this week for the great services he rendered to the people and to the country.

M. S. Aboobakr first entered politics in the year 1936 as a pioneer member of the Lanka Samasamaja party. He belongs to the first generation of the left leaders of Sri Lanka along with such stalvarts of the calibre of Phillip and Robert Gunawardena, Dr. N. M. Perera, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva, Dr. S. A. Wickramasinghe, Bernard Soysa, M. G. Mendis and Pieter Keuneman.

Aboobakr was a strong believer in scientific socialist politics and was a patriot and the friend of the working class. A fire brand politician.

He was a champion in the struggle against the capitalist and feudalist exploitation.

He was elected in 1946 to the Dematagoda ward as an M.M.C. and was elected Deputy Mayor of Colombo in 1950. A vetran trade unionist, he exercised his powers in; favour of the down trodden and for the rights of the poor rate payers. Being the first trotskyite member to be elected to the above position. He was also the first leftist Muslim to contest the first general elections as a candidate to the Polonnaruwa seat.

He served the people for over 14 years and it was during this period that he became the first person to address the municipal council in Sinhala and later a resolution to declare May 1st, as a paid holiday for the working class. He moved resolutions in the C.M.C. to re-name the streets of Colombo, resolved and paved the way for the establishment of public transport which is now an act of parliament. He was an excellent debater of facts and figures. His contributions to local politics, trade unionism and revolutions made him a feared but respected leftist whose dynamic personality and noble character are hitherto monumental.

His entire life was a struggle and sacrifice for the benefit of the working class which is now part of history and which cannot be forgotten or erased.

In 1985 at the age of 72 M. S. Abu was confined to his bed because of his ill health, the former President R. Premadasa in the capacity of Prime Minister of Sri Lanka visited M. S. Aboobakr’s residence at 153, Veluvana Mawatha, Dematagoda and chatted for an hour.

It must go on record that the Prime Minister did not go to Abubakar empty handed he carried a yellow file on his hands, together with a larger white envelope.

The file contained the deeds of title to the house in which the former deputy mayor Abubakar had lived for 44 years.

He had, he wrote to the Prime Minister, attempted to purchase the house under the clauses in the law which permit of such a purchase. But the owner’s agent, after agreeing to a fixed sum of money, had welshed on the deal at the last moment. Hence he appealed to his old friend and colleague Prime Minister Honourable R. Premadasa.

Now, the house which he could not buy has been gifted to him. And what was in the envelope? This is a little present for you from the Colombo Central UNP organisation said honourable Premadasa as he pressed the envelope into his old friend’s hands before he said good bye.

Azad Hashim and Falvl Hashim