President R. Premadasa, assured me that Azwer would be appointed through the National List to Parliament. That night with great relief we both left for Singapore.
It is with sadness, I mourn the passing away of my friend Marhmoon Al Haj A. H. M. Azwer. The late Azwer was a warrior with a cause who chartered the course of politics and politicians with his simplicity and loyalty which were his hallmark to his last.
I fondly recall, it was a Friday morning, just after Morning (Subhu Prayers) in 1988, Azwer was going through his daily mail following the Presidential Election victory. To his dismay he had received a letter of termination for not reporting to work.
Azwer was the Private Secretary to the then Governor of the Southern Province Al Haj Bakeer Markar. The reason for his failure to report to work was due to the fact that he accompanied the late President Ranasinghe Premadasa during his campaign addressing over 150 meetings across the country.
This election was marred with violence spanning from North to South. It was a hard fought campaign which was won by the United National Party candidate Ranasinghe Premadasa.
Azwer waited till sunrise, heart-broken and devastated, got ready and walked to Galle Road and got on a CTB bus and left for Bambalapitiya. Thereafter he walked to my residence.
Rather exhausted and eyes filled with tears he gave me the letter he had received and said “I have been given an award”.
I told him “Haji don’t worry this is a blessing in disguise. Now your place is in Parliament.”
“Are you joking? No, no, I will do something in the President’s Office,” Azwer passionately but humbly stated.
I had planned to go to Singapore that night and invited Azwer to join since he needed a well-deserved rest.
"The late Azwer was a warrior with a cause who chartered the course of politics and politicians with his simplicity and loyalty which were his hallmark to his last. "
Immediately I called our mutual friend Omar Kamil and conveyed what happened to Azwer and requested him to prepare a CV for Azwer. I asked him to join us for our usual Friday lunch and went to Sucharitha to wish the President Elect Ranasinghe Premadasa. In the meantime, I managed to get a copy of the letter removing Azwer to President Premadasa through the late A. J. Ranasinghe.
After the jummah prayers and lunch we went to Sucharitha. VIPs including well-wishers were queuing to greet the President Elect. Chief Minister of the Southern Province M.S. Amarasiri walked in and I gave him a copy of the letter sent by the Governor. Azwer was very angry with me for distributing copies of the letter.
Around 7.30 p.m. we were asked to come to wish the President Elect. The three of us walked in and as soon as President Premadasa saw Azwer jokingly said “you have been sacked”. Copy of the letter dismissing Azwer was on his table.
President asked Azwer what his plans were?
In response, I said “Sir, you must have him in Parliament.”
President Premadasa said that’s a very good idea and asked from which district he would like to come forward to contest. I promptly said
“Sir, we can’t field him from any district as he will be travelling with you in the campaign and therefore let him come on the National List and I handed over the CV of Azwer to President Premadasa.
President Premadasa immediately called Party General Secretary Mr. Ranjan Wijeratne and told him that he wanted Azwer and to include his name in the National List.
President wanted us to go to Sirikotha and immediately and meet the UNP General Secretary and hand over the CV.
I told President Premadasa that Azwer was very heartbroken and dejected that morning, when he received the letter and that I consoled him saying that President Premadasa would take care of him.
The President assured me that Azwer would be appointed through the National List to Parliament. That night with great relief we both left for Singapore.
Following the General Elections Azwer was nominated to Parliament from the United National Party. This is the story of how Azwer entered Parliament.
Over the years whether in power or out, Azwer was true to himself, never misused his position and always lived life in a down to earth manner strictly following the five pillars of Islam.
Azwer leaves us at a crucial juncture in Sri Lanka’s political landscape, where wisdom and foresight of experienced politicians such as Azwer would be sadly missed.
May the all mighty Allah grant Azwer the highest place in Jannah.
High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Malaysia