Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon was proclaimed as the first Pro-Chancellor of WOU during the 3rd convocation ceremony held at the main campus on 24 November 2012. Since October 2013, he has also been serving as the Chairman of Wawasan Education Foundation (WEF). In March 2017, he took over from Tan Sri Emeritus Prof Gajaraj Dhanarajan as the Chairmain of WOU Board of Governors.
Born on 26 August 1949 in Penang, he was married to Puan Sri Chui Kah Peng [she passed away on 24 July 2016], and has a son and a daughter.
Educational background He received his education in Penang, at Phor Tay Primary School, Chung Ling High School and then Methodist Boys School for Form Six studies.He obtained his BA (Physics) from Princeton University in 1970, MA and PhD (Education) from the University of Chicago in 1973 and 1977. He was awarded “University Scholar” and “Phi Beta Kappa” honours at Princeton and was a Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University in 1981 while on sabbatical leave.
Career achievements He started his career as a lecturer in the School of Educational Studies at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang in 1975 and rose to become Deputy Dean from 1978 until 1982.
Leadership in politics In 1982, Dr Koh left academia, contested and won the parliamentary seat of Tanjong, representing Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan) under the coalition ticket of Barisan Nasional. In Parliament till 1986, he was active in issues relating to the economy, education, environment, ethics and governance.
A member since 1982, he was appointed Gerakan’s first National Youth Chairman from 1983 to 1990. He became a National Vice-President from 1990 to 2005, and was elected Deputy President from 2005 to 2008. Following the retirement on 8 April 2007 of the late Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik, he took over as Acting President before being formally elected as the fourth President in November 2008. He resigned as the President of Gerakan in May 2013 after the General Elections.
At the state-level, he was the Penang State Gerakan Chairman from 1996 to 2008, and Penang Barisan Nasional Chairman from October 1990 to April 2012.
Leadership in state and federal government He became Political Secretary to the second Chief Minister of Penang, the late Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu, from 1986-1990. He was elected as a Member of the Penang State Legislative Assembly from the Tanjong Bunga constituency and succeeded Tun Lim as the third Chief Minister of Penang in October 1990, then re-elected and served for three (3) more terms until March 2008.
During his 18-year tenure as the Chief Minister, he drove Penang’s industrial transformation towards high-tech, high value-add, research, development and design; expanded industrial parks and local small medium industry; pursued George Town’s listing as a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was successfully conferred in 2008; and promoted education, skills training, sports, youth development and caring society in Penang, besides enhancing Penang’s infrastructure with the expansion of the airport, container terminal, water supply, Penang Bridge, affordable housing, etc. Before leaving office, he clinched federal government approval for the Second Bridge and Mengkuang Reservoir Dam expansion.
In April 2009, he was appointed as a Senator in the Federal Parliament (Dewan Negara) and a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (PMD) in charge of national unity and performance management. He established and chaired the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) in the PMD, driving the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) to focus on addressing key areas of concern for the people through transformation in performance management. He also expanded national unity programmes and addressed various inter-ethnic issues. He held this Cabinet position until the General Elections in May 2013, and subsequently resigned as Senator in mid-2014.