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Koh Buck Song

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Koh Buck Song

Koh Buck Song is a writer, editor and consultant in branding, communications strategy and corporate social responsibility in Singapore. He has authored and edited more than 20 books.


  • Career 1
  • Reviews, interviews, citations 2
  • Bibliography 3
  • External links 4
  • References 5


Born in Singapore in 1963, Koh graduated from the University of Cambridge and the University of London in the United Kingdom, and of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in the US, where he was a Mason Fellow and earned a master's degree in public administration. He studied leadership at the Kennedy School under Ronald Heifetz[1] and also at Harvard Business School under Warren Bennis.[2]

He was with The Straits Times from 1988 to 1999, where he was literary editor, political supervisor and chief Parliament commentator, arts and features supervisor, and Assistant Editor of a weekly world affairs section. His regular opinion column, Monday With Koh Buck Song, ran for over 10 years. He also launched and anchored the column This Week in Politics. From 2003 to 2004, he was a contributing columnist based in the USA for the Singapore newspaper Today, on current affairs relating to the USA and Singapore. From 2004 to 2005, he was a regular columnist on the theory and practice of leadership for The Straits Times. He worked for the Singapore Economic Development Board from 1999–2003 and 2004–05 in strategic planning and marketing & corporate communications.[3] While there, he led a team to devise the "global entrepolis" concept to position Singapore internationally.[4] Since then, he has worked as a consultant in branding, communications strategy and corporate social responsibility.

He has taught a Master in Public Management course in leadership to senior public servants including vice-mayors and judges from 10 countries in Asia, as Adjunct Associate Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore,[5] and media studies as Adjunct Faculty member at the Singapore Management University, School of Social Sciences. He was Deputy Chairman of the Censorship Review Committee 2009–10,[6] and was also a member of the Censorship Review Committees of 1991–92 and 2002–03, the only person to have served on all three panels.[7] He has also served on numerous other citizen committees, including as a Board member of the Media Development Authority and National Arts Council and as Chairman of the NAC's Drama Review Committee[8] and the Publications Advisory Panel's sub-committee on newspapers under the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts. He was General Editor of the multilingual literary and arts journal Singa.Koh is also the principal analyst and author of: Living With The End In Mind (2011), a study of the end-of-life care environment in Singapore, for the Lien Foundation.[9][10]

In 1992, he was poet-in-residence at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh under the Singapore-Scotland Cultural Exchange programme.[11] He has also represented Singapore at literary conferences at Cambridge (UK) and Manila, in poetry readings at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA. He has also spoken on Singapore's global reputation at international conferences including the 10th Harvard International Development Conference at the Kennedy School, Harvard, in 2004, and at MIT and the University of Chicago in the USA.

Reviews, interviews, citations

  • Chan, Rachel (2011). Review of Brand Singapore. University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School website, USA.
  • Stevens, Andrew (2011). "The Singapore Brand offers a Thoroughly Modern City". City Mayors Foundation website, UK.
  • Lui, Tuck Yew, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (2011), "Commemorating Our Past, Celebrating Our Present and Charting Our Future", speech at the Committee of Supply debate, Singapore Parliament.
  • Mah, Bow Tan, Minister for National Development (2008), speech at the launch of "Heartlands", Singapore Art Museum.
  • Koh, Tai Ann (editor, 2008). Singapore Literature in English: An Annotated Bibliography. National Library Board Singapore and Centre for Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University. ISBN 978-981-07-0060-7.
  • Mohammad A. Quayum (2007). Peninsular Muse: Interviews with modern Malaysian and Singaporean poets, novelists and dramatists, Peter Lang, USA.
  • Thumboo, Edwin & Sayson, Rex Ian (2007). Writing Asia: From the Inside, Asia-Pacific Literatures in English. Ethos Books, Singapore.
  • Toh, Hsien Min (2003). "Wilfred Owen meets Hokkien peng", interview with Koh Buck Song. Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Vol. 2, No. 2 January 2003.
  • Zhang, Ruihe (2003). "Gritted Teeth and Stoic Strength", review of From Boys To Men. Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Vol. 2, No. 3 April 2003.
  • Klein, Ronald D. (2001). Interview in Interlogue: Studies in Singapore Literature Volume 4: Interviews. Ethos Books, Singapore. ISBN 981-04-3706-4.
  • Westerly Vol. 43 (1998). University of Western Australia Press.
  • Sharrad, Paul (1993). "World Literature in Review: Singapore". World Literature Today, Spring 1993, Vol. 67, Issue 2.


Selected Works of Koh Buck Song in Anthologies & Other Books:

  • Thumboo, Edwin (editor, et al. 2010). & Words: Poems Singapore And Beyond. Ethos Books, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-08-6321-0.
  • Poon, Angelia; Holden, Philip & Lim, Shirley Geok-lin (editors, 2009). Writing Singapore: An Historical Anthology Of Singapore Literature. National University of Singapore Press, Singapore. ISBN 978-9971-69-486-9. ISBN 978-9971-69-458-6.
  • Thumboo, Edwin & Yeow, Kai Chai (editors, 2009). Reflecting On The Merlion: An Anthology Of Poems. National Arts Council, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-08-4300-7.
  • ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (2000). Modern Literature of ASEAN.
  • Singh, Kirpal (editor, et al. 2000). Rhythms: A Singaporean Millennial Anthology Of Poetry. National Arts Council, Singapore. ISBN 9971-88-763-0.
  • Pang, Alvin and Lee, Aaron (editors, 2000). No Other City: The Ethos Anthology Of Urban Poetry. Ethos Books. ISBN 981-04-2276-8.
  • Yeoh, Brenda S. A. and Kong, Lily (1995). Portraits Of Places: History, Community And Identity In Singapore. Times Editions, Singapore. ISBN 981-204-604-6.
  • Thumboo, Edwin (editor, et al. 1995). Journeys: Words, Home And Nation Anthology Of Singapore Poetry (1984–1995). National University of Singapore. ISBN 981-00-6910-3.
  • Sionil Jose, Francisco (1991). New Voices In Southeast Asia. Solidarity, Manila, Philippines.
  • Thumboo, Edwin et al. (1990). Words For The 25th – Readings By Singapore Writers. Unipress, Singapore. ISBN 9971-62-259-9.

Works by Koh Buck Song:

  • Koh, Buck Song (2012). Perpetual Spring: Singapore's Gardens By The Bay. Marshall Cavendish, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-4398-18-3 (hardcover). ISBN 978-981-2618-47-4 (paperback).
  • Koh, Buck Song (2011). Brand Singapore: How Nation Branding Built Asia's Leading Global City. Marshall Cavendish, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-4328-15-9.
  • Koh, Buck Song (with Lee, Geok Boi, 2011). Brighter: Electricity In Singapore: From Beginning To Beyond. Energy Market Authority, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-08-9532-7.
  • Koh, Buck Song (2011). Living With The End In Mind: A Study Of How To Increase The Quality Of Death In Singapore – Perspectives Of 30 Leaders, Lien Foundation.
  • Koh, Buck Song (editor, 2011). Heart Work 2: EDB And Partners: New Frontiers For The Singapore Economy. Straits Times Press, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-4342-01-8.
  • Editor of Shu, Joycelyn (2011). Nostalgia Is The Most Powerful Seasoning. Ate Media, Singapore. ISBN 978-981-08-8152-8.
  • Koh, Buck Song (2009). Creating A Difference: 10 Years Of Fighting White-collar Crime. ISBN 978-981-08-4939-9.
  • Koh, Buck Song (2008). Heartlands: Home And Nation In The Art Of Ong Kim Seng. Singapore ISBN 978-981-08-1618-6.
  • Koh, Buck Song (2007). Home At Mount Pleasant: The Senior Police Officers' Mess Of The Singapore Police Force. Singapore Police Force. ISBN 978-981-05-8764-2.
  • Koh, Buck Song (2005). How Not To Make Money: Inside Stories From Singapore's Commercial Affairs Department. Commercial Affairs Department, Singapore. ISBN 981-05-4384-0.
  • Koh, Buck Song (2003). The Ocean Of Ambition. SNP International, Singapore. ISBN 981-248-020-X.
  • Koh, Buck Song (editor, with Bhatia, Umej, 2002). From Boys To Men: A Literary Anthology Of National Service In Singapore. Landmark Books, Singapore. ISBN 981-3065-67-2.
  • Koh, Buck Song (editor, 2002). Heart Work: Stories Of How EDB Steered The Singapore Economy From 1961 Into The 21st Century. Economic Development Board, Singapore. ISBN 981-04-6906-3.
  • Koh, Buck Song (2001). The Worth Of Wonder. Times Books International, Singapore. ISBN 981-232-180-2.
  • Koh, Buck Song (2000). Toa Payoh: Our Kind Of Neighbourhood. Housing and Development Board, Singapore & Times Media. ISBN 981-232-124-1.
  • Koh, Buck Song (editor, 1997). Southeast Asian Art: A New Spirit. Art & Artist Speak, Singapore. ISBN 981-00-9699-2.
  • Koh, Buck Song (1996). Commentary on Domestic Politics, Singapore: The Year In Review 1996, Institute of Policy Studies, Times Academic Press, Singapore. ISBN 981-210-110-1.
  • Koh, Buck Song (1996). Interview with Professor Tommy Koh in The Arts in Singapore, 1996. National Arts Council and Accent Communications, Singapore.
  • Koh, Buck Song (editor, with Ban, Kah Choon et al., 1995). Voices 4 – Readings By Singapore Writers. Unipress, National University of Singapore. ISBN 981-00-4745-2.
  • Koh, Buck Song (poems, 1994). Twenty-five Years Of Watercolour Painting In Singapore. Singapore Watercolour Society. ISBN 981-00-5641-9.
  • Koh, Buck Song (with Tan, Hwee Hua 1994). Bugis Street: The Novel. Pacific Theatricals, Singapore. ISBN 981-00-5203-0.
  • Koh, Buck Song (1994), Thumboo, Edwin Nadason (1933– ), in Hamilton, Ian, ed., The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-century Poetry in English, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-866147-4 .
  • Koh, Buck Song (1993), Edwin Thumboo, in Nelson, Emmanuel S[ampath], ed., Writers of the Indian Diaspora: A Bio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, Westport, Connecticut, USA: Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-27904-1.
  • Koh, Buck Song (text and poetry editor, with introduction, 1993). Singapore: Places, Poems, Paintings. Art & Artist Speak, Singapore. ISBN 981-00-4559-X.
  • Koh, Buck Song (1992). Poems in Moving Colours 1988–1992 – Thomas Yeo art catalogue. Art & Artist Speak. ISBN 981-00-3884-4.
  • Koh, Buck Song (1992). A Brief History Of Toa Payoh And Other Poems. Imperial Publishing House, Singapore. ISBN 981-00-3426-1.

External links

  • National Library, Singapore. Chua, Alvin: Singapore Infopedia:[12]
  • National Arts Council, Singapore – Literary Singapore: A Directory of Contemporary Writing in Singapore 2011:[13]
  • National Book Development Council of Singapore. Database of Singapore Writers:[14]
  • Chicago Booth School of Business Singapore talk: "The Business of Nation Branding", November 2011, cited in Lin, Ted (2011), Untapped Cities: "Brand Singapore and its Influence on the Past and Future":[15]
  • Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. 2006 media coverage by faculty: "Anyone can be a leader, not just the man at the top":[16]
  • Singapore Management University. Knowledge@SMU: "Singapore’s brand “keloid”: Going beyond canes and chewing gums", July 2011:[17]
  • Institute of Policy Studies. Roundtable: "Brand Singapore", May 2011:[18]
  • Public Service Division, Singapore. Challenge magazine: "Branding Singapore Softly, Quietly" July–August 2011:[19]
  • Lien Foundation, Singapore. "Living with the end in mind – A Study of how to increase the Quality of Death in Singapore: Perspectives of 30 leaders" by Koh, Buck Song (2011):[20]
  • Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. Author interview by Toh, Hsien Min: "Wilfred Owen meets Hokkien peng", January 2003:[21]
  • Institute of Public Relations of Singapore seminar at the Singapore Management University: "The Future of Singapore's nation branding: New roles for PR practitioners", October 2011:[22]


  1. ^ "The nanny must keep retreating" by Koh Buck Song, TODAY, Singapore 19 January 2004.
  2. ^ "Getting S'poreans to step out of the safest queue" by Koh Buck Song, The Straits Times, 1 September 2004.
  3. ^ Quotation, comment on Singapore's anti-corruption reputation internationally, in Schwerin, David A. (2005) Conscious Globalism: What's Wrong With The World And How To Fix It Digital Junction Press, USA
  4. ^ Singapore Investment News article, EDB April 2003:
  5. ^ "Anyone can be a leader, not just the man at the top", The Straits Times 5 May 2006.
  6. ^ Media Development Authority website:
  7. ^ "When liberal desires meet conservative fears", Long, Susan, The Straits Times 25 September 1999.
  8. ^ "Liberalising the arts takes time", Koh Buck Song, The Straits Times" 8 February 1994.
  9. ^ Lien Foundation website:
  10. ^ "Taking the taboo out of dying", Tan, Judith. The Straits Times 3 June 2011.
  11. ^ "Eastern promise is sheer poetry". The Herald, Scotland. 8 October 1992.
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