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M.A. Rashid Former Minister of Union of Burma

By Aman Ullah
M. A. Rashid (1912 – 1987), an Indian Myanmar Muslim, was the first chairman of the All-Burma Federation of Student Unions, politician and active in the student movement against the ruling British.
Rashid was born in Allahabad India and came to Rangoon with his parents from India in 1914 at the age of 2. His parents were Mr. M. A. Sakur and Ahmadi Begum. His father, Mr. M. A. Sakur, was an Indian-Burmese trader and opened a shop on Dalahozi Road (now Mahabandula Road) and was the first person to import and sell Phonograph to Myanmar. Rashid studied at Randaria High School in Rangoon and graduated from the University of Rangoon with Bachelor of Law.
Rashid was one of those who tried to form a Federation of student Union and was not only a member of the drafting committee of the Federation of Student Unions constitution but also later became Secretary of that Federation of Student Unions in 1931. From 1935 to 1936, U Nu was the chairman of the Rangoon University Students’ Union, Rashid was the vice-president and Aung San was the secretary.
Rashid also was the leader of student strike in 1936. During the student strike, Thein Pe, Nyo Mya, Kyaw Nyein, Hla Mg, Tun Oh, U Nu, and Aung San participated. This was followed by the All-Burma Federation of Student Unions and the Student Thanmani Army, National University and the student parliament movements have emerged. After that, he also co-founded the Red Dragon Book Club outside the university with them. Rashid was elected chairman of the student union, elected in June 1936 where Aung San was elected as Secretary. He led the convening of the All-Burma Students’ Conference and the establishment of the All-Burma Federation of Student Unions. The first conference was chaired by U Nu. He served as chairman of the reception committee. He was elected by that conference and became the first chairman of the All -Burma Federation of Student Unions.
After the war, he joined the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League and was a member of the committee drafting the 1947 constitution. He also served on the Labor Legislative Committee. During the era of parliamentary democracy, He was repeatedly elected as a Member of both House of the Parliament.
Prime Minister U Nu appointed him in 1952 as Minister for Housing and Labour, in 1954 Minister for Trade and Development, in 1956 Minister of Mines, in 1960 Minister of Commerce and Industry. In 1958 he was the Vice President of the Trade Union Council of Burma. In the 1960s, Burmese U Nu wanted to send him as permanent representative to the United Nations for Burma, but he refused to do so.
In 1961, he was elected chairman of the International Labour Organization General Assembly. On March 2, 1962, General Ne Win arrested him for six years along with Prime Minister U Nu’s cabinet ministers during the coup. In 1974, he was detained for a second time for 18 months. In 1978, he became chairman of the Muslim minority committee of the Muslim World League.
He married Daw Fatima (BA). They have two sons. In April 1978, He died of prostate cancer in Karachi, Pakistan. The tomb of his is marked as Rashid of Burma.

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