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Koh Poh Koon

Koh Poh Koon (simplified Chinese: 许宝琨; traditional Chinese: 許寶琨; pinyin: Xǔ Bǎokūn, born 16 March 1972) is a Singaporean politician and colorectal surgeon. A member of the governing People's Action Party, Koh has been serving as a Member of Parliament (MP) since September 2015, representing Ang Mo Kio GRC. [1] Since January 2016, he is also a Minister of State in the Ministry of National Development and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.[2] He is also the current Deputy Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress.

Koh Poh Koon
Minister of State,
Ministry of National Development
Assumed office
1 January 2016
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Minister Lawrence Wong
Minister of State,
Ministry of Trade and Industry
Assumed office
1 January 2016
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
Minister Lim Hng Kiang &
S. Iswaran
Deputy Secretary-General of NTUC
Assumed office
Member of the Singapore Parliament
for Ang Mo Kio GRC
(Yio Chu Kang)
Assumed office
11 September 2015
Personal details
Born (1972-03-16) 16 March 1972 (age 46)
Nationality Singaporean
Political party People's Action Party
Alma mater National University of Singapore
Occupation Politician
Profession Colorectal surgeon


Early life and educationEdit

Koh comes from a local Teochew family and spent the first three years of his life living in Punggol, where his family lived in a farmhouse at Lorong Cheng Lim. The family then moved to a four-room HDB flat in Toa Payoh. His father was a bus driver who drove the cross-island public bus service 82.[3] Koh was the oldest child in his family and often worked odd jobs when he was young to support the family.[3]

Koh had his early education at the now-defunct MacRitchie Primary School, before going on to study at Maris Stella High School and Hwa Chong Junior College. [4]He then studied Medicine at the National University of Singapore, graduating with an MBBS degree in 1996.[4] He subsequently obtained an MMed (Surgery) from the National University of Singapore as well as Fellowships from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Academy of Medicine in Singapore.[4] He also received Health Manpower Development Programme Scholarships from Singapore's Ministry of Health for advanced training in the surgical treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases in Edinburgh and at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.[4]


Koh is the founding Director of the Colorectal Cancer Genomic Health Service at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH). Prior to his appointment as a Minister of State, Koh was the Medical Director and Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at a private practice at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, as well as a Consultant Surgeon at both SGH and Changi General Hospital.

Koh had also served as a Clinical Lecturer at the National University of Singapore (NUS), and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. His interest in medical research has also led him to serve as an Adjunct Clinician Scientist with the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

Political careerEdit

Dr. Koh officially entered Singapore politics in January 2013, when he contested in his first parliamentary election at the Punggol East SMC by-election as the PAP's candidate.[5] He was defeated by the candidate of the Workers' Party, Lee Li Lian.[6]

In 2015, Koh contested in the general elections as a part of the six-member PAP team in Ang Mo Kio GRC in which the team won and Koh was elected into parliament.

On 23 April 2018, Koh joined the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and was appointed as NTUC's Deputy Secretary-General.[7]

Punggol East by-election (2013)Edit

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of the previous Member of Parliament for the ward, the PAP's Michael Palmer (who served as the Speaker of Parliament from 2011 to 2012), who stepped down after he revealed that he had an extra-marital affair.[8]

It was reported that Koh had initially turned down Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's invitation to be the PAP's candidate in the election as he was worried that he may not be able to serve the residents well. However, after further discussions, he accepted the offer.[citation needed]

In the by-election, Koh faced two candidates who had stood against Palmer in the 2011 general election – Lee Li Lian of the Workers' Party (WP) (who won 41.01% of the votes in the constituency in 2011) and Desmond Lim of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA) (who won 4.45% of the votes in 2011). A fourth candidate, Kenneth Jeyaretnam of the Reform Party (RP), also joined the by-election contest, making it a four-way fight.

During his campaign trail, he made an gaffe which became a central focus in his campaign. Speaking to a media query about his family owning two cars, he remarked: "everybody has a car, we have two... We are professionals, we need to travel".[9] He was subsequently perceived as out of touch with the average worker against Worker's Party candidate Lee, who campaigned as a working mother.

On polling day on 26 January 2013, Koh was defeated by Lee. He garnered 12,856 votes (43.71%) compared to Lee's 16,038 votes (54.52%). Kenneth Jeyaretnam took 353 votes (1.20%), with Desmond Lim taking 168 votes (0.57%).[6]

Member of Parliament (2015–present)Edit

On 15 August 2015, the People's Action Party (PAP) announced that Koh would be part of a six-member PAP team contesting in Ang Mo Kio GRC led by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in the 2015 general election.[10] Following the results of the election, Koh was elected into Parliament when the six-member PAP team won and clinched 78.64% of the electorate's valid votes in the constituency.[11]

Personal lifeEdit

Koh is married to a doctor. They have two daughters.[5]


  1. ^ "Member's Profile - Dr Koh Poh Koon". Parliament of Singapore. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  2. ^ "Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announces Singapore's new Cabinet". Channel NewsAsia. 28 September 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b Koh, Mui Theng; Tan, Judith (13 January 2013). "Meet the 'son of Punggol'". The New Paper. Singapore Press Holdings. asiaone. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d "Curriculum Vitae of Dr Koh Poh Koon" (PDF). Parliament of Singapore. Archived (PDF) from the original on 9 January 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Who's contesting in Punggol East?". The Straits Times. Singapore Press Holdings. 9 January 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  6. ^ a b Au Yong, Jeremy (26 January 2013). "Workers' Party wins Punggol East by-election with 54.52% of valid votes". The Straits Times. Singapore Press Holdings. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  7. ^ Kwang, Kevin (23 April 2018). "Education Minister Ng Chee Meng, Koh Poh Koon join NTUC as deputy sec-gens". Channel NewsAsia.
  8. ^ "Speaker of Parliament, PAP MP Michael Palmer resigns due to 'improper conduct'". Yahoo! News. Yahoo! Singapore. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  9. ^ "PAP doctor diagnoses his election defeat". Yahoo! News. AsiaOne. 16 December 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  10. ^ "PAP unveils Ang Mo Kio GRC slate". Channel NewsAsia. 15 August 2015. Retrieved 9 January 2016.
  11. ^ "Results". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 11 January 2016. Retrieved 9 January 2016.

External linksEdit