Tun Syed Zahiruddin is related to Sharifah Hendon, the wife of Ku Nick. He was the fourth Tuan Yang Terutama Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Melaka (1975-1984) before being appointed as Orang Kaya Bendahara Seri Maharaja.
Tun Syed Zahiruddin was born on 11th October 1918 at Pondok Tanjung, Kerian, Perak. He is the eldest child of six siblings. His father is Syed Hassan bin Syed Ibrahim, and his mother is Raja Halimah binti Raja Abdullah.
He received his early education at Sekolah Melayu Tapah for a year from 1924 to 1925. He then went to school at Sekolah Melayu Pondok Tanjung for 4 years from 1925 to 1929, following which he was eucated at Clifford School, Kuala Kangsar. In year 1930, he continued his education at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar and passed the Senior Cambridge.
His excellence and intelligence has enabled him to be selected to continue his studies at Raffles College, Singapore, from 1938 to 1941, where he successfully obtained a Diploma in Literature. During schooling, he was an active student in various sports like football, hockey, tennis and cricket.
Before he was appointed as Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Melaka, he held several important positions at district, state and national levels:
1942 – 1943 – Deputy Assistant District Officer of Gerik
1943 – 1946 – Deputy Assistant District Officer of Kechil,Tanjung Malim
1946 – 1947 – Deputy Assistant District Officer of Cameron Highlands
1947 – 1948 – Deputy Assistant District Officer of Lumut
1948 – 1951 – Deputy Assistant District Officer of Perak
1952 – 1953 – Assistant District Officer of Lenggong, Perak
1953 – 1954 – Assistant District Officer of Tanjung Malim,
1954 – 1955 – Assistant District Officer of Ipoh, Perak
1955 – 1957 – Assistant Secretary II, Perak
1957 – 1958 – District Officer of Tapah, Perak
1959 – 1960 – Deputy Secretary, Public Services Commission, Kuala Lumpur
1960 – 1961 – Land and Mineral Commissioner, Perak
1961 – 1962 – Perak’s State Secretary
1963 – 1966 – Permanent Secretary, Agriculture Ministry,Malaysia
1966 – 1970 – Permanent Secretary, Education Ministry,Malaysia
1970 – 1972 – General Director, Public Services Department, Malaysia
1972 – 1973 – Malaya Train Service Commission Chairman
1st April 1974 – Malaysian High Commissioner to United Kingdom
18th May 1975 – Malaysian ambassador to Republic of Ireland
As Orang Kaya Bendahara Seri Maharaja, Tun Syed Zahiruddin is one of the Orang Besar Empat of Perak. He was appointed when DYMM Sultan Azlan Shah became the 34th Sultan of Perak in 1984. He is also one of the members of Dewan Negara Perak that advises the Sultan on matters relating to the state and in appointing the sovereign and state chiefs.
Tun Syed Zahiruddin passed away on 21 April 2013.