Alfred Thambiayah

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Alfred Thambiayah
அல்பிரட் தம்பையா
Member of the Ceylonese Parliament
for Kayts
In office
Succeeded by V. A. Kandiah
Personal details
Born (1903-11-08)8 November 1903
Political party All Ceylon Tamil Congress
Alma mater St. Anthony's College
St. Patrick's College
St. Benedict's College
St. Joseph's College
Occupation Businessman
Ethnicity Ceylon Tamil

Alfred Leo Saverimuthu Thambiayah (Tamil: அல்பிரட் லியோ சவரிமுத்து தம்பையா; born 8 November 1903, date of death unknown) was a Ceylon Tamil businessman, politician and Member of Parliament.

Early life and family[edit]

Thambiayah was born on 8 November 1903 in Karampon on the island of Velanaitivu in northern Ceylon.[1][2][3] His father was a ship owner in Kayts.[2] He was educated at St. Anthony's College, Kayts, St. Patrick's College, Jaffna, St. Benedict's College, Colombo and St. Joseph's College, Colombo.[2]

Thambiayah married Rajeswari, daughter of Adigar Sellamuttu.[3] They had two sons (Shivantha and Ravi) and two daughters (Subodhini and Indumathi Renuka).[3]


Thambiayah began his business career aged 21 by leasing the Olympia Cinema.[2] He then went into business with Chittampalam Abraham Gardiner, establishing the successful Ceylon Theatres Ltd.[2] Later on Ceylon Theatres bought Cargills & Millers and Thambiayah served as chairman/managing director of the latter.[2] Thambiayah acquired Cargo Boat Dispatch Company, a shipping company, in 1936 from Harry and John Cosmas.[2][3][4] The company grew to control the majority of the business out of the Port of Colombo.[4]

Thambiayah stood as an independent candidate in Kayts at the 1947 parliamentary election.[2] He won the election and entered Parliament.[2][3][5] His opponent A. V. Kulasingham filed a legal petition stating that Thambiayah was disqualified from contesting the election as his Cargo Boat Dispatch Company had contracts with the state-owned Colombo Ports Authority. Judge Basanayake found in favour of Kulasingham and declared the Kayts election void.[6] Electoral law didn't allow appeals against the judgement so the United National Party dominated government hurriedly passed the Election Petition Appeal Act No. 1 of 1948. Thambiayah appealed and judges Wijeyewardene, Canekeratne and Windham over ruled Basanayake's judgement and re-instated Thambiayah as the MP for Kayts.[7]

Thambiayah was instrumental in the construction of road links to Velanaitivu from Jaffna peninsula and Pungudutivu.[2] He also helped build schools, hospitals, roads, dispensaries and post offices on the island.[2]

Thambiayah was re-elected at the 1952 parliamentary election as an All Ceylon Tamil Congress candidate.[2][8] The ACTC left the UNP government in 1953 but Thambiayah chose to remain with the UNP.[9] Thambiayah, like many Tamil UNP politicians, left the UNP in 1956 over the its support of the Sinhala Only policy.[9]

Thambiayah stood for re-election in the constituency at the 1956 and March 1960 parliamentary elections but on each occasion was defeated by the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (Federal Party) candidate V. A. Kandiah.[2][10][11]

Thambiayah's company suffered a set-back when the Port of Colombo was nationalised in 1958.[4] Thambiayah started diversifying his business interests, turning his company into a shipping agency house, taking shareholdings in Hatton National Bank and establishing Hotel Renuka in Kollupitiya in 1970 after the government started offering tax incentives to the hospitality sector.[2][4]

Today Thambiayah's company is known as Renuka Holdings PLC and is one of Sri Lanka's largest conglomerates.[12] Thambiayah's daughter Indumathi Renuka Rajiyah is the company's chairperson and his grandson Shamindra Vatsalan Rajiyah is the executive director.[12][13]

He died prior to October 2009.[14]


  1. ^ "Directory of Past Members: Thambiayah, Alfred Leo". Parliament of Sri Lanka. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Chandrasekera, Duruthu Edirimuni (7 July 2013). "Alfred Leo Thambiayah: Trailblazer in entrepreneurship". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 
  3. ^ a b c d e Arumugam, S. (1997). Dictionary of Biography of the Tamils of Ceylon. pp. 220–221. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Origins". Renuka Holdings PLC. 
  5. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1947" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. [dead link]
  6. ^ "Kulasingam V Thambiayah". LawNet. 
  7. ^ "Thambiayah V Kulasingham". LawNet. 
  8. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1952" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. [dead link]
  9. ^ a b Rajasingham, K. T. "Chapter 15: Turbulence in any language". Sri Lanka: The Untold Story. 
  10. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1956" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. [dead link]
  11. ^ "Result of Parliamentary General Election 1960-03-19" (PDF). Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. [dead link]
  12. ^ a b Chandrasekera, Duruthu Edirimuni (2 December 2012). "Renuka Group – Leaving a lasting legacy". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 
  13. ^ "Reuka Holdings PLC: Annual Report 2012" (PDF). Colombo Stock Exchange. 
  14. ^ "Obituaries". The Island (Sri Lanka). 17 October 2009. 

External links[edit]