He had the welfare of people at heart
Haleem Ishak

A bridge-builder between Sinhalese and Muslims
The news of Haleem Ishak's death brought unbearable sorrow to me, as he was one of my close friends for four decades. In our journey through Sansara we come across all sorts of people, but those like Haleem are rare. I first met Haleem at the Colombo Municipal election in 1962. He was the SLFP candidate for Kuppiyawatte.

Opposing Somaweera Chandrasiri, MP who was Haleem's key campaign speaker, I supported the UNP candidate. My speech was so harsh that Haleem gave a press interview threatening libel action. But both of us became good friends, representing governing and opposing parties in the CMC. Though I resigned from the Municipal Council, our friendship never ended. We were "mango friends" through thick and thin. We fought many a political battle in Parliament and elsewhere. Haleem was a resolute campaigner against corruption. He sincerely believed that all power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Circumstances compelled him to change his political colouring but most leaders got the best out of him and never gave anything in return. I am aware of the assurances and promises given to him by leaders which were never fulfilled. He was not a hot- headed politician moved by anger or indignation. He hated injustice, tyranny and immorality. He was always fair and generous to his opponents. He helped his friends and even sacrificed his political career in coming to the rescue of so-called friends who ultimately neglected or ignored him.

Haleem was a true sportsman who played the losing game with patience and fearlessness. I met him often after he had fallen ill and a few days before his death spent considerable time with him. I considered him a bridge builder who was doing his best to bring the Sinhalese and the Muslims together.
Haleem was a devoted husband and good father. May eternal bliss be with him.

P.A. Jinadasa Niyathapala

The great reformist and architect of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in a statement made shortly before his death in 1938 said, "Any human being who believes that the destinies of other human beings depend wholly upon him personally is a petty man, failing to grasp the most elementary facts. Every man is destined to perish physically. The only way to stay happy while we live is to work not for ourselves, but for those to come".

Haleem Ishak, whose death brought sadness to all those who knew him epitomized the sentiments expressed by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Altruism was the driving force behind all his actions and he had the welfare of his fellow-beings at heart all the time.

When my son broke the news to me on September 24 that Haleem Ishak had died, I was saddened deeply, for it was only a few days earlier that I received a letter of appreciation from him for the work I am doing as Principal of Zahira College. "I am aware of your past as a Principal and I hope your experience will be used for the benefit of the students of Zahira, and I wish you all success."

He died the way he lived without rancour towards anybody, with peace within himself and wishing and praying for the wellbeing of others. With the death of Mr. Ishak, the country in general and the Muslim community in particular have lost a man in a million, whose greatest attribute was caring for others. As a community leader, politician and elder statesman he left an indelible mark on the affairs of his community and country. His death has left a void which is hard to fill. The large number of people who thronged the Kuppiyawatte burial ground spoke volumes of the love and affection in which Mr. Ishak was held.

Mr. Ishak who came from a family with strong links to social service, followed the footsteps of his father, N.M.M. Ishak. He entered politics by being elected as a member of the Colombo Municipal Council. He was always accessible even to the poorest of the poor and made use of that position to work and toil for the well being of the down-trodden.

He graduated into national politics and was elected as one of the very few members of the opposition in 1977, when the UNP won a landslide victory at the general elections. His contributions to parliamentary debates were informed, eloquent and down to earth.

I am personally aware of the painstaking manner in which he did his homework before a debate. On numerous occasions when he had to speak on educational topics, he would call me and ask questions pertaining to the educational problems facing the country and the manner in which they are addressed in the international arena, especially with the intervention of organizations like UNESCO and UNICEF.

He was an eloquent speaker in Sinhala. Whether on the political stage or in person to person communication with his constituents, he always exuded a sense of honesty and sincerity which had a lasting impact.

I have often heard him saying that as a representative of the people, a sacred trust has been placed upon him and it was his duty to live up to that trust. He will be remembered by the people who elected him both to the Municipal Council and Parliament.

Mr. Ishak was an old boy of Wesley College, Colombo and had the distinction of being elected President of the Old Boys’ Union. He worked hard to marshal the resources and capabilities of old boys to make tangible contributions to their alma mater. Whatever the task he undertook in that capacity, he performed it with diligence, dedication and single-minded steadfastness.

As a person concerned with the welfare of Muslims in Colombo, he paid considerable attention to the improvement of educational standards in government Muslim schools and did whatever possible to provide them with much needed infrastructure. Although he did not achieve great heights in the field of education, he was convinced that the future of the Muslims depended on education. It was that conviction that made him pay special attention to schools in his constituency.

He was also concerned about Zahira College, Colombo, the oldest and leading Muslim education institution in the country. Inspite of his onerous responsibilities he agreed to serve as a member of the Board of Governors of Zahira College. He made this an opportunity to serve and provide useful suggestions to the college authorities to enable them to improve the educational standards of the poor children attending the institution.

His life was so gentle, and the
Elements so mixed in him, that
Nature would stand up and say to all the world
This was a man.

Dr. M. Uvais Ahamed

He was compassionate and ready to help
P.B. Liyanage
It is with a deep sense of sadness that I write about the death of P.B. Liyanage on September 14. Mr. Liyanage was a therapy radiographer at the Cancer Institute, Maharagama, and I met him at the Colombo General Hospital in 1957 when he came there for trade union work.

He was not a vociferous or slogan-shouting trade unionist. He was calm and quiet but was able to persuade me and others to join the Govt. X-ray Technical Officers' Association, which was founded in 1948. He was Hony. Secy. of this union from 1957 to 1966. Later, though I was away from Colombo, I kept track of his untiring efforts to bring relief and benefits to union members.

Many were the enemies of Mr. Liyanage, but he carried on regardless of the obstacles placed in his path, sometimes even by his own comrades to discourage him. Mr. Liyanage left Sri Lanka in 1972 for employment in Britain, where he lived for about 18 years. He was compassionate, ready to help his colleagues, friends and even enemies whenever they needed it.

Mr. Liyanage's wife predeceased him in 1986 when he was in Britain. After he returned to Sri Lanka in 1990, he became a religious and social worker helping a number of charitable institutions and destitute people.

Farewell to thee! my friend,
You certainly carry the gratitude
of the Sri Lanka Radiographers
May you attain the eternal bliss of Nibbana!

Marshall Fernando

His sketches did the talking
Jiffry Yoonoos
The recent death of Jiffry Yoonoos removes from our midst a cartoonist par excellence, who bestrode the field of journalism like a colossus. A contemporary of Collette of Daily News, Yoonoos was attached to the Tamil daily, Thinakaran, as a staff cartoonist.

Both were masters in caricature and sketching people who mattered. Leaving Lake House, Yoonoos embarked on a perilous career path to join the Aththa, the Communist Party daily, in the mid-1960s when it was in choppy waters.
Despite heavy odds, he proved himself, keeping pace with the fascinating editorials of then editor of the Aththa, B.A. Siriwardena.

He had a flair for depicting political heavyweights in his cartoons, which caught the attention of a wide readership. His Appuhamy was very popular. His pen and ink sketches did the talking and sometimes were a censure on powerful people. He paid a heavy price for his forthrightness when ruffians entered his home and intimidated him.
Talented artists of the calibre of Yoonoos are a vanishing tribe.

When I met him last on March 15, he offered me a cup of tea, thanked me for visiting him and invited me to come again. But alas, he has crossed the great divide. Inna-Lillahi-wa-Ilaihi Raji-un. Not only his wife and children but also journalism are poorer by his death. May his soul rest in peace.

M. Azhard Dawood

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