Koh Soh Goh (许甦吾, Xu Suwu; 1908, Fujian, China–1988), also known as Xu Zhenxun (许振勋) and Xu Suwo (许苏我), was born in 1908 in Hui’an county in Fujian, China. In the autumn of 1922, Koh enrolled in Peiyuan Middle School in Quanzhou city. After his graduation in 1927, he became a primary and middle school teacher. In 1936, Koh moved to Gulang Yu in Xiamen, where he taught at Tongwen Middle School while working as an editor-and-translator for the Christian church. In 1938, Koh became the personal Chinese secretary of American missionary, Reverend Poppen. Koh lived in the American Church for two years to establish a school and maintained a low profile so as to evade the Japanese army. In 1941, Koh changed his name to Suwu and moved to Hong Kong, then to Singapore later that year. In Singapore, he went into business in an attempt to disguise his identity, and returned to teaching only after the Japanese surrendered in 1945. In 1947, Koh became the head of the sales at Nanyang Bookstore upon the invitation of its owner Tan Yeok Seong (陈育崧), and was promoted to managing director in 1949. When Nanyang Bookstore folded in 1962, Koh bought over its printing equipment and set up the South Seas Publishers in 1963. He continued to write for local newspapers and publications in his later years, under pseudonyms such as Suwu, Suwo and Qiyu. Koh passed away in 1988.
Selected books on Koh Soh Goh
许甦吾. [Xu, S. W.] (1950). 《新加坡华侨教育全貌》 Singapore: 南洋书局.
Call no.: RCLOS 370.95957 HSW
In this publication, Koh Soh Goh gives an overview of Chinese education in Singapore, from private schools set up before the Qing regime to government-funded schools established after World War II. He also includes chapters on art schools, vocational schools, schools for the sight- and hearing-impaired, as well as “education in the air” that was broadcast over specific radio stations.
许甦吾. [Xu, S. W.] (1977). 《南洋学会与南洋研究》 Singapore: 南海编译所.
Call no.: RCLOS 959 HSW
The South Seas Society was founded in Singapore in 1940 to further the study of problems relating to what the early Chinese termed the “South Seas”, or Nanyang region. Koh Soh Goh was a senior member of the society and this book is a compilation of his writings relating to the history and activities of the society, providing readers with an idea of the society’s contributions to its causes.
许甦吾. [Xu, S. W.] (1978). 《义人脚踪》 Singapore: 南海编译所.
Call no.: RCLOS 959.57009922 HSW
In this book, Koh Soh Goh traces the work and footsteps of five men: publishing and education pioneer Reverend B. P. Keasberry; historical researcher Song Ong Siang; Reverend Tay Pheng Teng who set up the Chinese Reading Room, Anti-opium Society and missionary schools; educator Hsu Tong Phan; and J.P. Liu Pai Hu who contributed to Chinese education.
许苏我. [Xu, S. W. (Ed.).] (1975). 《南洋学报第一卷至第三十卷总目录》 Singapore: publisher unidentified.
Call no.: RCLOS 059.951 NYX-[HYT].
This is a general catalogue of the 1st to 30th issues of Journal of the South Seas Society, published between 1941 to 1975, which was compiled by Koh Soh Goh in 1975.
魏维贤 & 许苏我. [Wei, W. X., & Xu, S. W. (Eds.).] (1987). 《椰阴馆文存补编》 Singapore: South Seas Society.
Call no.: RSING 959.00992 SUP
Edited by Wei Weixian and Koh Soh Goh after Tan Yeok Seong’s passing in 1984, this is a supplement to the collected writings from the Ya-yin Studio, which refers to Tan’s personal collection of books. Prior to this supplement, Tan had edited three volumes of Collected Writings from the Ya-yin Studio. The Ya-yin Studio collection was donated to the National Library Board, Singapore in 1964 by Tan, and is part of the National Library collection.
柯木林. (主编). [Ke, M. L. (Ed.).] (1995). 《新华历史人物列传》 [Who’s who in the Chinese community of Singapore]. 新加坡: 教育出版公司, p. 33.
Call no.: RSING 959.570092 WHO-[HIS].
This book contains the biographies of 1,175 Chinese personalities in Singapore from 1819 to 1990. Each biography contains information on the birth and death dates, dialect group, occupation and affiliated organisations of the Chinese personality. A short biography of Koh Soh Goh is also included.
Selected articles on Koh Soh Goh
- 海外华人研究. (2008). 《许苏吾》 [Koh Soh Goh]. Retrieved from National University of Singapore (NUS) website.
This website provides a short biography of Koh Soh Goh’s life, as well as a list of books written or edited by Koh that can be found at the Chinese Library of the National University of Singapore.
Selected newspaper articles on Koh Soh Goh
印务同业公会建议一发展印刷业. (1961, April 25). 《南洋商报》 [Nanyang Siang Pau], p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
This report reveals Koh Soh Goh’s in-depth understanding as well as farsightedness in the development of the publishing industry through his proposal of conducting more classes for workers to further their skills and knowledge of the industry.
许甦吾. “从《星洲日报》看星洲50年”读后. (1980, March 18). 《星洲日报》 [Sin Chew Jit Poh], p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
This article features Koh Soh Goh’s forthright opinions on a book, as well as his constructive suggestions on how the publisher could follow-up with future special issues.
Selected oral history interviews on Koh Soh Goh
- 陈鸣鸾. [Chen, M. L.] (Interviewer). (1984, October 24). Oral history interview with Koh, Soh Goh [Accession No. 000497, reels 1-9 of 9]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
This is an interview with Koh Soh Goh on his life and work from before to after World War II. Koh shares about his life during the Japanese Occupation, as well as his opinions of some of his contemporaries.