B ZAHIERE LYE
B. Zahiere Lye was an Appointed Member of Parliament who spent most of his time in maintaining the image and unity of the Malay Community in Sri Lanka. He was married to Mashmoon, daughter of M.K.Saldin the first Malay to be represented in the Legislature.
As President of the All Ceylon Malay Association (now known as Sri Lanka Malay Association) he established cultural and social contacts with Malay leaders of the world. The Sultan of Selangor, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Indonesia, the Governor of Singapore and the Deputy Prime Minister are only some of the Malay dignitaries who were entertained at the Association when he was President. The then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahaman was a special friend of Mr. & Mts. Lye whom he befriended when they were in London in 1947. A special invitation was sent to them to attend the independence celebrations in K.L as state guests from August 30th. to September 3rd. 1957.
Zahiere Lye has been the General Secretary of the Colombo Malay Cricket Club (which is the oldest Sri Lankan Cricket Club) from 1927 to 1934, the Club Captain for ten years and the President of the Cricket Club and Sri Lanka Malay Association from
1951-1964. He has actively served the Club and Association for a continuous period of over 40 years. He took great pains to encourage and improve all activities in the club be it cricket, hockey or netball.
The Club grounds and pavilion at Rifle Green, which was the home of the Malays for a period of 85 years, were commandeered during the war in 1942 by the British Army. It was subsequently taken over by Government of Sri Lanka in 1957 for construction of the new Police station and officers’ quarters. After prolonged negotiations with the Government Mr.Lye with his committee were able to obtain for the Malays an alternative site at Kew Road. The club was also offered a Police hut at the new premises to serve for sometime as a pavilion and office. It was Zahiere Lye along with a few dedicated members who kept alive the club by regular gatherings and meetings. Finally by dint of hard work and effort by the President and committee, a new Pavilion was constructed. On the occasion of opening the pavilion September 3rd. 1960 by the then Governor General, Sir Oliver Goonetilleke, Mr.Lye declared that the new pavilion would be known as the ‘Padang’- the new home of the Malays.
The Sri Lanka Malay Association Rupee Fund will stand as a lasting monument of the service to society by Zahiere Lye and his wife Mashmoon . The Fund which was inaugurated in May 1953 was the brainchild of Mashmon Lye. Annual distribution of rice and cash to thousands of poor families, annual treats to poor children, monthly assistance to pensioners, scholarship scheme for higher education and vocational training to the young on computing, English language and typewriting are some of the forms of assistance given to the needy and less privileged. Mr.Lye as the Founder President and Mrs. Lye as General Secretary guided the Fund with the able assistance of a band of dedicated Committee members.
In recognition of the Fund’s services to the needy and les fortunate the Fund receives an Annual Grant from the Department of Social Services and is recognized as an Approved Charity. In 1978 it was Incorporated by an Act of Parliament.
Besides giving fresh life to sports activities Zahiere Lye made the Padang the focal point of all social, cultural and social service activities of the Malays. The Malay community owes a deep debt of gratitude to Zahiere Lye, the dynamic leader for the great leap forward made by the community as a result of his progressive ideas and actions.