Koh Tsu Koon

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Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dr.
Koh Tsu Koon
Koh Tsu Koon.jpg
Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister's Department
Unity & Performance Management
In office
10 April 2009 – 5 May 2013
Constituency Senator
3rd Chief Minister of Penang
In office
25 October 1990 – 11 March 2008
Preceded by Lim Chong Eu
Succeeded by Lim Guan Eng
4th President of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan)
In office
4 October 2008 – 16 May 2013
Preceded by Lim Keng Yaik
Succeeded by Chang Ko Youn (Acting President 2013)
Personal details
Born Koh Tsu Koon
(1949-08-26) 26 August 1949 (age 67)
Penang, Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia)
Citizenship Malaysian
Political party Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan) – Barisan Nasional
Spouse(s) Chui Kah Peng (徐嘉平, deceased)
Children 1 son, 1 daughter
Alma mater Princeton University
University of Chicago
Occupation Educator, politician
Religion Buddhist

Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon (born 26 August 1949; simplified Chinese: 许子根; traditional Chinese: 許子根; pinyin: Hsǔ Zǐ Gēn; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Khó Chú-kun) is a Malaysian politician. He was the Chief Minister of Penang from 1990 to 2008 and was appointed as a Senator; a member of the Dewan Negara, the upper house of the Malaysian Parliament. In April 2009, Koh was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister's Department by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. He was famously known for contributing in "Sungai Pinang" campaign where he took almost 10 years to complete it.

He is the former president of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan), a member of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, and also the first President of Gerakan not named a candidate in the Malaysian General Election.[1]


Koh Tsu Koon was born in Penang in 1949 and attended Phor Tay Primary School and Chung Ling High School. He graduated from Princeton University in 1970 with a degree in physics, and obtained his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1977 in economics and sociology of education. He was a Fulbright scholar at Stanford University from 1980 to 1981.

Koh taught at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang from 1975 and rose to become Deputy Dean of Education in 1978.[2]

Political career[edit]

Koh joined Gerakan in 1982. He won a parliamentary seat during the 1982 general election but lost it to Lim Kit Siang in the following election.[3] The following year, he was elected Gerakan Youth chairman. Koh was the protégé of then Penang Chief Minister Lim Chong Eu, serving as Lim's political secretary and chief aide from 1986 to 1990.[2]

Gerakan leadership[edit]

Koh became a vice-president of Gerakan in 1991 and later deputy president in 2005. On 8 April 2007, following the retirement of long-serving president Lim Keng Yaik, he took over the presidency in an acting capacity. He was formally elected president in 2008.[2]

Penang Chief Minister[edit]

In the 1990 general election, Chief Minister Lim Chong Eu lost his state seat. Koh, who was a first-term state assemblyman from Tanjung Bungah, was selected to lead the Barisan Nasional government in Penang, and became the state's third Chief Minister.

Koh served four terms as Chief Minister for a total of 18 years. In the 1995 general election, he was challenged in his state seat by Lim Kit Siang, who unseated the previous Chief Minister Lim Chong Eu in 1990. Koh beat Kit Siang with over 70% of the votes.[3] He stepped down in 2008 to contest the Batu Kawan parliamentary seat during the general election. Koh was said to be pressured into leaving his position as Chief Minister to join federal politics.[4] He eventually lost the parliamentary contest, while the opposition pact led by the Democratic Action Party (DAP) won the state of Penang.

Koh remained visible in the political scene after the election, and even participated in a televised public debate with his successor as Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng.[5] He remained as Gerakan president, winning the post permanently in October 2008.

Cabinet minister[edit]

Koh returned to public office in April 2009, when he was appointed as a Senator in the Dewan Negara. This paved the way for prime minister Najib Tun Razak to name Koh in his inaugural Cabinet.[6] He was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, in charge of unity and performance management. Koh was put in charge of Najib's Government Transformation Programme (GTP), which includes monitoring the performance of ministries and six national key result areas (NKRAs) through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).[7][8]

Stepping Down as Penang BN Leader[edit]

In August 2011, The Malaysian Insider reported that the central government of Putrajaya felt that Koh should step down as BN leader in Penang for the coalition to win back the state government in the 13th general elections. It was further said that voters viewed Koh as indecisive and a symbol of the BN leadership which was rejected by voters in 2008.[9] Gerakan leaders reportedly encouraged Koh to leave Penang to contest the Simpang Renggam parliamentary seat, a Gerakan safe seat in Johor.[10]


On 16 May 2013, The Star (Malaysia) reported that Koh officially resigned as the President of Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia. His deputy, Chang Ko Youn, would take over as acting president until the party elections on 26 October 2013.[11] Koh's resignation followed Gerakan Secretary-General Teng Chang Yeow's earlier resignation as Penang Barisan Nasional chairman and Gerakan Secretary-General.[12]


  1. ^ "Tsu Koon will not contest next election". 
  2. ^ a b c Personal Profile Y.B. Senator Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon. Accessed 15 June 2010
  3. ^ a b "Keputusan Pilihan Raya Umum Parlimen/Dewan Undangan Negeri" (in Malay). Election Commission of Malaysia. Retrieved 29 June 2010.  Percentage figures based on total turnout.
  4. ^ DAP: Dr Koh forced to move The Star. 12 February 2008
  5. ^ All set for Guan Eng-Tsu Koon debate The Star. 19 August 2008
  6. ^ Najib names 28-member Cabinet The Star. 9 April 2009
  7. ^ Subsidy rift: Tsu Koon defends Jala Free Malaysia Today. 9 June 2010
  8. ^ Gerakan’s Koh defends appointment The Star. 11 April 2009
  9. ^ Jahabar Sadiq (14 August 2011). "With Penang in mind, move to unseat Tsu Koon gathers pace". The Malaysian Insider. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "Koh mum on Johor contest". The Star. 15 August 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  11. ^ Bernama (16 May 2013). "Tsu Koon brings down curtain on illustrious 30-year political career". The Star (Malaysia). Retrieved 16 May 2013. 
  12. ^ S Arulldas (6 May 2013). "GE13: Teng Chang Yeow resigns his post". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 16 May 2013. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Lim Chong Eu
Chief Minister of Penang
Succeeded by
Lim Guan Eng