Aw Boon Haw

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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Aw.
Aw Boon Haw
Hu Wenhu2.jpg
Aw Boon-Haw (Who's Who in China 4th ed.,1931)
Native name 胡文虎
Born 1882
Rangoon, British Burma
Died 1954 (1955) (aged 72)
Hong Kong
Children Sally Aw
Parent(s) Aw Chu Kin (Father)
Relatives Aw Boon Leng (Eldest Brother)
Aw Boon Par (Youngest Brother)
Aw Boon-Haw & Aw Boon-Par Memorial Hall at the School for the Blind, a Tiger Balm charity in Rangoon, Burma

Aw Boon-Haw (Chinese: 胡文虎; pinyin: Hú Wénhǔ; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Hô͘ Bûn-hó͘; 1882 in Rangoon, British Burma – 1954 in Hong Kong), OBE, was a Burmese Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist best known for introducing Tiger Balm. He was the son of Hakka herbalist Aw Chu-Kin, with his ancestral home in Yongding County, Fujian Province, China.

Lei Yue Mun Waterfront School


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.

By 1920, Boon Haw was easily the richest man in Rangoon. According to his Chinese biographer Zhang Ronghe, his business empire reached its peak in the mid-'30s, covering Siam, Burma, Malaya, Indonesia, Hong Kong as well as a dozen cities in China. 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 Kuomintang government. Added to this was his rumoured war-time co-operation with Japan.[1]

In 1926, Aw migrated to Malaysia, where he began the business of Tiger Red Balm with his brother, Aw Boon-Par. 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.

In 1947, during the post-war period, Chung Khiaw Bank was incorporated. Aw, a philanthropist, was the founder and first chairman of the bank’s board of directors. He had envisioned the bank to be one for the “small man” that would serve all segments of the population, especially the middle class. The bank started operation on 4 February 1950 at 59 Robinson Road.[2]


In 1954, at the age of 72, while on a trip to Hong Kong from Boston, US, Aw died from a heart attack following a major operation. His legacy is found in the Haw Par Villas throughout Asia, with locations in Singapore, Hong Kong, and the Fujian province of China.


His sons took over his businesses after Aw's death. Aw Kow, became director of the Sin Chew Jit Poh, the Singapore Tiger Standard and the Chung Khiaw Bank; Aw San, who became general manager of the Eng Aun Tong Medical Hall and its Canton factory; Aw Hoe, who became general manager of the Medical Hall and managing director of the Tiger Standard and the Sin Chew Jit Poh; It Haw, youngest son.

Personal life[edit]

Aw's adopted daughter is the Hong Kong businesswoman and former Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member Sally Aw. Sally Aw squandered the vast fortune and was on the brink of bankruptcy. Tiger Balm Gardens and the Aw Boon-Haw Gardens in Hong Kong were sold to the territory's billionaire, Li Ka-Shing, for US$13 million in 1998.

The daughter of Aw Boon-Haw and his fourth wife, Aw Seng (胡星), resided in Singapore and has set up a company under her father's name, Aw Boon Haw Pte Ltd, to continue the heritage and legacy of her father. Aw Seng died on 10 April 2012 in Vancouver aged 100.


1911: First branch outside Rangoon set up in Bangkok
1926 : He moved his head office to Singapore after the British conducted an unsuccessful opium raid in his house. He opened the Eng Aun Tong Medical Hall in Singapore. Turnover of his company reached $10 million.
1929 : Founded Sin Chew Jit Poh, a Chinese newspaper competing with Tan Kah Kee's Nanyang Siang Pau. To further promote his Tiger products he also published the Tiger Standard.
1932 : Moved his head office to Hong Kong to capture the China market
1937 : Built Haw Par Villa otherwise known as the Tiger Balm Gardens for his brother, Boon Par. The gardens depict Chinese mythology.
1938 : An OBE conferred on him for his philanthropic contributions
1950 : Set up the Chung Khiaw Bank
1954 : He died in Honolulu half-way home after a stomach operation in America. His empire was divided among six of his nine surviving children and four nephews.
1972 :The Tiger Balm business fell out of the Aw family's control when it was acquired by Slater Walker Securities of London.


  1. ^ Tan, Bonny. "Aw Boon Haw". Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board Singapore. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  2. ^ "Chung Kiaw Bank is Founded 1947". HistorySG. National Library Board Singapore. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Tan, Bonny. "Aw Boon Haw". Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board Singapore. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 

Malcolm Aw 胡督北, son of Aw Swan 胡山 and third grandson of Aw Boon haw is currently an environmental protection engineer at Forest Energetics Group and executive chairman of Waterl'eau Plc., has come up with "Restorative Solutions" to a positive climate change-back, effecting climate change in a positive way through application of massive water recovery, generation & reforestation technology by producing inexhaustible forever supply of water for sustainable livelihood and socioeconomic development to improve environmental health and well-being. Actions have been taken and wheels are in motion in their effort to arrest further negative climate change (so deep seated in our mindset as to be deemed irreversible) and to promote the idea that people take up the challenge to "evaginate" the climatic process with creative thinking and do things ecologically beneficial hands-on in innovative ways. As water will be the driving force for developing economies and the foundation of our economic evolution waterl'eau plc is master planning to reforest parts of MENA and terra-forming arid land worldwide into everglades of wetland and floodplain of rich agricultural developments made possible with Massive Water Recovery, Generation and Reforestation and Environmental Restorative Technology that will provide "forever" supply of water to developing countries worldwide.

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