Aw Boon Haw

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Aw Boon Haw
Hu Wenhu2.jpg
Aw Boon-Haw (Who's Who in China 4th ed.,1931)
Born 1882
Died 1954 (1955) (aged 72)
Resting place Tiger Balm Garden, Hong Kong
Other names Tiger Balm King
  • entrepreneur
  • philanthropist
Known for
Board member of Eng Aun Tong
Aw Kow (son)
Aw Swan (son, adopted)
Aw Hoe (son, deceased in 1951)
Aw It Haw (son)
Aw Jee Haw (son, died in wartime)
Aw Sar Haw (ditto)
Aw Sin Haw (son)
Sally Aw (daughter)
Aw Seng (daughter)
Parent(s) Aw Chu Kin (Father)
Relatives Aw Boon Leng (Eldest Brother)
Aw Boon Par (Youngest Brother)

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


In 1926, Aw migrated to present day Malaysia,[citation needed] where he cofounded the Tiger Red Balm business with his brother, Aw Boon-Par. Aw also founded several newspapers, including Sin Chew Jit Poh in Singapore and Sin Pin Jit Poh in Penang (both currently based in Malaysia); 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[citation needed] and managed the business from there, while his brother stayed in Singapore until he closed down the factory and went to Rangoon. One of his sons was also killed during the Japanese occupation of Singapore. Aw returned to Singapore[citation needed] after the end of World War II and re-established his business.


In 1954, at the age of 72, Aw died from a heart attack following a major operation in Honolulu while on a trip to Hong Kong from Boston, US. He is remembered through his work with 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.

Personal life

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.[citation needed]

The daughter of Aw Boon-Haw and his fourth wife, Aw Seng (胡星), resides 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.[citation needed] Aw Boon-Haw's fourth wife died on 10 April 2012 in Vancouver aged 100.[citation needed]



  • (in Chinese) 胡文虎
  • (in Chinese) 胡文虎父女的汕頭緣[permanent dead link]
  • Sin Yee Theng and Nicolai Volland, "Aw Boon Haw, the Tiger from Nanyang: Social Entrepreneurship, Transregional Journalism, and Public Culture," chapter 5 in Christopher Rea and Nicolai Volland, eds. "The Business of Culture: Cultural Entrepreneurs in China and Southeast Asia" (UBC Press, 2015).
  • Cochran, Sherman. Chinese Medicine Men: Consumer Culture in China and Southeast Asia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006.

External links

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