4 Everyday Products That Were Brainchild Of Our Singapore Pioneers


13 Oct 4 Everyday Products That Were Brainchild Of Our Singapore Pioneers

137 years.

And going.

That’s how long a local brand has been in business.

Singapore has streets and buildings named after our forefathers who had made great contribution to the nation and the society. We often hear the likes of Tan Kah Kee, Lee Kong Chian, Eu Tong Sen and more. Many of them were businessmen and some of the brands and products have survived till today.

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Eu Yan Sang


This is a well-known Chinese medicine hall with numerous retail stores in the shopping malls. It has survived the times and reinvented the business into a vertically integrated Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) producer, distributor as well as treatment provider.

The history dated back to 1879 where Eu Kong opened the first shop in Malaysia called Yan Sang. The goal was to dispense Chinese herbs to help the tin miners alleviate their suffering from opium. Eu Kong’s son, Eu Tong Sen, expanded the business into other parts of Asia including Singapore. The main road in Chinatown was named after Eu Tong Sen.

Today, the Company is listed on the Singapore Exchange and is run by the fourth generation headed by Richard Eu.

Tiger Balm


You might have seen this ointment in one of the shelves every time you tour round the supermarket. The range of products have increased to include stick-on pain relief plasters to mosquito repellents. You would only shop for the products when you are have body aches, or when the Aedes mosquitoes strike with Dengue and Zika viruses.

The Tiger Balm history started in Rangoon (today’s Yangon) with two brothers, Aw Boon Haw and Aw Boon Par. They perfected the ancient recipe from their father. The Tiger Balm proved to be a hit and Aw Boon Haw expanded it to Malaya and Singapore with more successes.

If you are old enough, you should have visited the Haw Par Villa, which was built by the two brothers in 1937.

Haw Par is a listed on the SGX but the Company no longer belong to the Aw family. There was a corporate struggle in the 80-90s and United Overseas Bank’s (UOB) founder, Wee Cho Yaw, took control of Haw Par. The sequence of events was detailed on Haw Par’s website.

Lianhe Zaobao

Have you wondered how the name, Lianhe Zaobao, came about? Lianhe in mandarin means joint, united or alliance. This is because this paper was a result of a merger between Nanyang Siang Pau and Sin Chew Jit Poh in 1983.

Nanyang Siang Pau was started by Tan Kah Kee in 1923 while Sin Chew Jit Poh was started by Aw Boon Haw in 1929. There is a MRT station along the Downtown Line named after Tan Kah Kee, for his contribution to build Hwa Chong Institution.

Today, Lianhe Zaobao is one of the main publications of the SGX-listed Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).

Next time look carefully at the copy of Lianhe Zaobao, you would be able to see the Chinese characters, Nanyang and Sin Chew under the main header.


Lee Pineapple

No. This has got nothing to do with your Pen Pineapple Apple Pen viral music video.

This is the familiar red colour can that contains pineapple juice. It isn’t a very popular drink but I believe enough Singaporeans would have tasted it. I used to drink this when I was young and always remember the ultra sweetness of the juice. Not for diabetics.


This brand was founded by Lee Kong Chian. Local school children and university students would have recognised his name on their school buildings or libraries.  There are several well-known companies which Lee was invested in, such as the Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), Great Eastern Life Insurance, Sime Darby (Singapore), Cold Storage and Straits Trading Company. He is the son-in-law of Tan Kah Kee.

I have visited a pineapple plantation in Malaysia and learned that it was owned by the Lee Family.


I have highlighted 4 products that were the brainchild of our pioneers. Have I missed out anything?


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