|Leung Kai Fook Building at No. 84 South Bridge Road.|
LEUNG Kai Fook was an extremely familiar name in my childhood days. It cropped up very often in conversations between Mum and Dad. Not sure why. Perhaps it was the name of the company marketing the Axe brand of medicinal oil that was widely used then (and even now). And perhaps my parents admired the man behind the oil -- a Mr Leung Yun Chee (c1900 to 1971) for his entrepreneurial spirit. Mr Leung was from Shunde, China. He came to Singapore in 1922 -- a manager with a silk company before running his own medicinal business. Mr Leung also started the Shin Min Daily News in 1967 (which was sold to SPH some 20 years later).
The smell of the oil was pervasive in my childhood days. Mum had headache quite often... and you can always smell it when you are in the bus. Someone seated way behind at the back was probably carsick and would be dabbing a knotted handkerchief soaked with the oil on the nose. Even today, I could smell it when I went on bus rides.
But it was a little mystery to me why the company was called Leung Kai Fook and not Leung Yun Chee -- till I read the history on the company's website. Kai Fook was the name of his old silk shop in Shanghai. He added his surname to it when he changed it to a drug store.