Thursday, 17 November 2011

Aw Boon Haw 胡文虎

AW BOON HAW 胡文虎, KStJ, OBE, CH

Aw Boon Haw was born in 1882 to Aw Chu Kin, a traditional medicine practitioner. At the age of 10 years he went back China to have Chinese education. When his father died, he was called back Rangoon by his brother, Aw Boon Par to work at his father’s shop, Eng Aun Tong Medicine Hall. Eng Aun Tong (Hall of Everlasting Peace) could only make the brothers meet the ends and survive for the day, but not really well-to-do.

In 1926, Aw Boon Haw and his brother migrated to Singapore. The idea to shift the business from Rangoon to Singapore was a risk. And the Aw brothers introduced the famous ointment Tiger Balm, a registered trademark of Eng Aun Tong and later became a famous household product. Aw Boon Haw’s success was not only limit to his ability in marketing the medicine. Over the years, he expanded his business and became a banker, financier, industrialist and newspaper proprietor.

His Sin Poh Amalgamated Ltd controlled 13 newspapers in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong (Sing Tao Daily), including two English language dailies, the Singapore Standard and Hong Kong Standard. He was famously known for being the owner of two popular Malaysia Chinese dailies, Sin Chew Jit Poh and Guang Ming Daily. His active involvement in settling newspaper, particularly the Sin Chew Jit Poh in 1929 was to serve the purpose to publicise his medicine products. Where he fully utilised the concept of advertisement to express his ideas and inventions to the public.

In 1950, he took a major step by establishing the Chung Khiaw Bank, aimed at small-scale business loan. Being an established man throughout the Straits Settlements and British Malaya, Aw Boon Haw moved to Hong Kong and left his brother in Singapore. Shortly afterwards, Aw Boon Par also left for Rangoon. It was after the World War II ended, Aw Boon Haw returned back Singapore and reorganised his business.

In 1929, he was honoured by the Chinese National Government of Taiwan with a First Class Gold Medal and a certificate, for the purchase of one hundred dollars Government Bond. In 1933, he was presented a Certificate of Honour in recognition of his loyal and valuable services to His Majesty’s Government. In 1936, Aw Boon Haw was honoured by the Chinese Government with a gold medal and a certificate of honour for his charitable bequests in donating a laboratory for the Shanghai Hospital, including a sum of $10000 was remitted for relief work in the China floods in 1935 and $7000 in 1931, and many other donations given to the people and government of China. The recognition was presented by Sze Zau Hsung, the acting Chinese Consul-General in Singapore. In 1938, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his philanthropic services in the British Malaya and Straits Settlements. In 1950, Aw Boon Haw was honoured by King George V with Associated Knight of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, the Order was presented by the Governor of Hong Kong and he was the only Chinese to have earned the distinguish coveted honour.

In 1954, while on his way back to Hong Kong from the United States, Aw Boon Haw suffered heart attack and he died at Honolulu Hospital. His body was sent to Hong Kong for burial. It was said that during his lifetime a sum of more than ten millions dollars was given away for charity goods, but Aw Boon Haw took no account to note his philanthropy deeds.

Aw Boon Haw had four wives, Cheng Peng Foong (1883 – 1959), Chan Kam Chi, Wong Yoke Seah and Khoo Siew Eng, his third wife was the occupant of his villa at Tai Hang Road, Hong Kong. He had seven sons and two daughters. His sons were Dato’ Aw Kow, Aw San, Aw Hoe, Aw It Haw, Aw Er Haw, Aw San Haw and Aw Si Haw. Daughters, Aw Sian and Aw Sin. After his death, the handover of the family business was disastrous, his heirs squabbled and left his wealth in tatters.

His adopted sons through his first wife, Dato’ Aw Kow married Tan Kah Joo daughter of Tan Leng Tian in 1940 was the Managing Director of Sin Chew Jit Poh, Singapore Standard and Chung Khiaw Bank, he was made a Dato’ by Sultan of Pahang in 1963. And Aw San who was appointed to General Manager of Eng Aun Tong. Aw Boon Haw’s another adopted son, Aw Hoe (1919 – 1951) was the Managing Director of Sin Chew Jit Poh and Singapore Standard, he died in an air-crash tragic. Aw Hoe and Aw Sian (original name, She Moi) was adopted by Aw Boon Haw’s second wife. Aw Sian who was adopted from a distant relative in Burma at the age of five years she was a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Through the third wife who lived in Hong Kong, Aw Boon Haw had two sons, Aw It Haw and Aw Er Haw. And by his fourth wife, he had two sons and a daughter, Aw San Haw, Aw Si Haw and Aw Sin. Aw Boon Haw also employed his nephew, Aw Cheong Yeow son of Aw Chung Chek (1876 – 1961) was the manager of his newspaper firm, Sin Chew Jit Poh and his brother Aw Cheong Lian who was educated in Singapore was employed at Aw Boon Haw’s gold mine in Pahang.

Aw Boon Haw in his full honour decorations


Wives:
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

Children:
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

1 comment:

  1. Info on 3rd wife wrong. She stay in singapore. Number 2 Tanglin Road Singapore

    ReplyDelete