Friday, September 5, 2014

Tiger Balm King

"What I have in mind, will be unique, like nothing anybody has seen.  We shall call it after us, Har Par Villa. We will be remembered for generations to come" - Aw Boon Haw ~ 1934
  1. Aw Boon Haw whose name means "gentle tiger", was also nicknamed the "Tiger Balm King".
  2. Aw Boon-Haw (Chinese: 胡文虎; pinyin: Hú Wénhǔ; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Hô͘ Bûn-hó͘; born 1882 in Rangoon, Indian Empire – died 1954 in Hong Kong), OBE, was a Burmese Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist best known for introducing Tiger Balm.
  3. He was the son of Hakka herbalist Aw Chu-Kin, a herbalist from Zhongchuan, YongDing, Fujian Province in China.
  4. Aw migrated to Singapore in 1926, where he began the business of Tiger Red Balm with his brother, Aw Boon-Par.
  5. It is believed that Boon Haw and his brother, Aw Boon Par, inherited their father's recipe for a soothing oriental ointment. However, various rumours concerning the origins of the balm pervades. There are suggestions that the recipe came from an aged Chinese doctor while others point to a supposed German pharmacist who was a family friend. With Boon Par's pharmaceutical training, they produced Ban Kim Ewe or "Ten Thousand Golden Oil" which they later patented. Boon Haw renamed the ointment the "Tiger Balm" and marketed it throughout Southeast Asia, gaining great fame as the Tiger Balm King. Other "Tiger" products include Tiger Headache Cure, Balashin Sai (Pat Kwa Tan), Chee Thone San, Chinkawhite Wind Mixture.
  6. Aw also founded several newspapers, including Sin Chew Jit Poh and Guang Ming Daily, which are both based in Malaysia today; and Sing Tao Daily, which dates back to 1938 and is currently based in Hong Kong. Aw moved to Hong Kong during the Japanese occupation of Singapore and managed the business from there, while his brother stayed in Singapore until he closed down the factory and went to Rangoon. Aw returned to Singapore after the end of World War II and re-established his business.
  7. By 1920, Boon Haw was easily the richest man in Yangon. According to his Chinese biographer Zhang Ronghe, his business empire reached its peak in the mid-'30s, covering Thailand, Myanmar, Malaya, Indonesia, Hong Kong as well as a dozen cities in China.
  8. His newspaper empire included dailies like the Sing Kong Yih Pao (1935 Amoy), Sing Tao Yih Pao (1938 Hongkong), Sing Pin Jih Pao (1938 Penang), Sing Ming Yih Pao (1946 Bangkok ) and the Hongkong Tiger Standard and Singapore Tiger Standard (1950). This division continued to remain strong in Hongkong as the Sing Tao group, headed by daughter Sally Aw Sian (Aw Sien), until the mid late '80s when unsuccessful dabbling in real estate and other publishing ventures drained the division's coffers.  In mid-1999, Sally Aw sold controlling shares of Sing Tao to Lazad Fund Asia for HK$262 million. 
  9. His empire however faced difficulty in the late 1940s with his son's involvement in a currency-smuggling incident which caused him to lose favour with Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomingtang government. Added to this was his rumoured war-time co-operation with Japan.
  10. While on a trip to Hong Kong from Boston, US in1954, Aw died at the age of 72 from a heart attack following a major operation on 5 September.
  11. His legacy is found in the Haw Par Villas (Tiger Balm Gardens) throughout Asia, with locations in Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Fujian Province of China.
  12. He was also well-regarded for his generosity as a philanthropist.
1. Tay Piah Hong @ Cheng Peng Foong (1885 - 1959)
2. Tan Kim Wee @ Chan Kam Chi (b. 1906) married in 1919
3. Ooi  Geak Cheah @ Wong Yoke Seah (b. 1908) married in 1924
4. Khoo Siew Eng @ Yau Siu Ying (b. 1914) married in 1937
1. Aw Kow (1914 - 1983) married Tan Kah Joo (b. 1923) in 1940
2. Aw Swan (1915 - 1986) married Lim Saw Swee (b. 1918) in 1938
3. Aw Hoe (1921 - 1951) married Chan Sau Yong (b. 1919) in 1939 and Hoi Lan Yin (b. 1923) in 1947
4. Aw Sian (b. 1931)
5. Aw It Haw (b. 1930) married Akiko Nagase (b. 1927) in 1960
6. Aw Jee Haw (1930 - 1942)
7. Aw Seng (b. 1937) married Liow Yee Lee (b. 1932) in 1957
8. Aw Sar Haw (1941 - 1942)
9. Aw See Haw (b. 1950) married Ng Shun Yee in 1975

Siblings Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par were the founders of the iconic Tiger Balm. -- PHOTO: HAW PAR CORPORATION - See more at:

Flashback Friday: 'Tiger Balm King' Aw Boon Haw dies of a heart attack on Sept 5, 1954
Aw Boon Haw wikipedia
Haw Par Villa Photo: Memory of Mr Aw Boon Haw
Aw Boon Haw
Tiger Balm’s poor old lady
Aw Boon Haw the Philanthropist 
The Roar of the Tiger - A Story of the Haw Par Brothers
Aw Boon Haw (1882–1954)
The Tiger Balm Kings How Did They Really Get Their Start?
Aw Boon Haw 胡文虎 

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