AC Shaul Hameed was educated at St. Anthony's College, Katugastota, Vijaya College and Zahira College, Matale. He showed a flair for English writing and started with the Children's Corner in the Sunday Observer to which he was a regular contributor from the age of 15.
Standard VII, he launched a magazine for Matale schools called 'New
Broom.' Later he organised the Matale Students' Union of which he was
elected first president. Being interested in adult education and teaching
of English he was responsible for establishing a number of educational
institutions in Matale and Kandy districts particularly in backward Muslim
localities. He was the director and principal of Winchester College,
Matale (named after a famous Public School in England) which prepared
students for foreign and local examinations conducted in English.
ACS, as he
was affectionately known, was also elected President of the Central Ceylon
Muslim Assembly and it was through this organization that the Kandy Muslim
Teacher Training College was inaugurated. At that time there was a dearth
of Muslim trained teachers.
In 1956, he
became actively involved in politics and joined the UNP. He entered the
arena of national politics when he successfully contested the general
elections in March 1960. Since then he was returned to power in eight
elections, counting 39 years as an MP. This was one of the longest
unbroken parliamentary records in the country.
appointed to the Cabinet in 1977 when the UNP came to power and became the
first Foreign Minister of this country. Since independence the portfolios
of Defence and Foreign Affairs had earlier been held by the Head of
By this time
the Middle East boom had begun. Restrictions in the issue of passports and
the existence of exit permits discouraged employers from recruiting people
from Sri Lanka.
Bank annual report of 1977 states that only 10,000 workers had gone for
employment in the Middle East.
One of his
first ministerial decisions was to remove all restrictions on passports
and open Embassies in Middle East countries. Today more than one million
Sri Lankans are employed in the Middle East.
his long and unparalleled stint of nearly 15 years as Foreign Minister, he
spearheaded a number of discussions abroad and at home to settle many
national and international disputes. He was involved in at least three of
the major attempts made in those 15 years to resolve Sri Lanka's
intractable armed conflict through negotiation - the Indo-Sri Lanka
Agreement of 1987, the Premadasa - LTTE talks of 1989/90 and the All-Party
Conference of 1990-1992 of which he was Vice-Chairman.
He was the
Chairman of the Ministerial Conference of the Non-aligned Movement from
1977-1979. He also visited many countries in Asia as an envoy of the
United Nations to solicit support for a UN Conference on New and Renewable
Sources of Energy. He served on the UN Advisory Board on Disarmament
Studies for 10 years. He was an ardent advocate of internationalism and
He was also a
proponent of greater understanding among South Asian nations for the
resolution of common problems and played an active role in the formation
of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC).
In 1981, he
inaugurated the first meeting of Foreign Secretaries of South Asian
countries held in Colombo to explore prospects for regional co-operation.
As a Cabinet
Minister, he tried to respond to problems in a practical and positive
manner, more professionally rather than as a dogmatic intellectual. He had
enormous drive and a stupendous capacity for hard work. He established
himself as a national figure because of his proven competence and