Remember Charles Koh from the Flamingos Combo? I do. Whenever he comes over from the U.S. the newspapers would announce his arrival. A gynaecologist, they say, cannot be a musician.
But Dr. Koh is both, and an excellent one at that. A Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from NUS (1967) he now practises in the US. Here's the truth unravelled as his colleague Dr. Raymond Tan and friend John Cher tell us about this extraordinary man.
I must thank them both for the articles below:
Dr. Raymond Tan says: "I was a medical student during the mid-sixties and Charles Koh was a few years my senior. Charles was a bright student who won the State Scholarship (equivalent to today's President's Scholarship). I was always amazed at how Charles could spend his evenings playing music in a hightclub (Rose D'or - Lido Cinema, Shaw House, Orchard Road) and still keep up with his medical studies.
Charles was a colleague and senior when I worked in the Gynae and Surgery departments. He left in 1971 for UK where he obtained his specialist degree in Gynecology. He later on moved to US and became a successful gynecologist.
The Flamingos music was sometimes broadcast live over radio (RTS) and they played beautiful music with Charles (a self taught musician) playing on the vibraphone. Charles was quite versatile and could sing and play a few other instruments."
John Cher says: "Charles Koh indeed loves music and despite his status as a doctor of eminence in the USA, he was unassuming and soft spoken. His two sons are into music as well. I remember having lots of fun jamming with all of them at a church music room many years ago. He used to return to Singapore about once a year and his good friend, James Choa, another member of The Flamingos would arrange for jamming sessions.
The very last time we jammed was at The Peranakan Restaurant in the basement of Hotel Negara at Orchard Road. The boss of the restaurant Bob plays the piano and sings as well. Jimmy Chan, who was also with The Flamingos at one point, used to drop by after he completed work at The Mandarin Hotel. After the last customer had left, Bob would lock up and we would jam till the wee hours!
Always remember Jimmy's joke that dying and going to the washroom is the same. If you have to go, you have to go! Lost touch with Charles completely after the passing of James about 3 years ago. Always nice to recall about the old days!"
Anglo Chinese School Class Of 59/61 says: Within the Flamingos Combo, Charles Koh was in a vocal group called the Gaylads. "Before you jump to conclusions, we would state categorically that Charles is not that way inclined but how the name Gaylads came about merits explanation.
Before joining ACS, Charles with Peter Loh Boon Tan and Robert Gay studied at the Presbyterian Boys School (PBS). When the group was formed, the name Gaylads was decided on to honour their PBS Principal, Mr. Gay Wan Guay, who happened to be Robert’s father."
Many readers know Dr. Koh. Do write in.
On the internet, articles abound about Dr. Koh. Here's one:
"He is an infertiity microsurgeon who merged the art of microsurgery to laparoscopic surgery and performed the first laparoscopic microsurgical tubal anastomosis in 1992. He has applied this convergence to the art of radical endometriosis surgery with fertility preservation and organ repair for the past 20 years.
He has created many innovations, inventions and techniques for advances in laparoscopic surgery, lectures and performs demonstration surgeries around the world.
In 2009, Dr Koh was awarded the Distinguished Surgeon Award from the Society of Reproductive Surgeons, American Society of Reproductive Medicine. He was the former President of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons (2009)."
For further reading go to:
This article is not an advertisement and does not promote any person or persons. The doctor mentioned is a personal friend of the two writers.
Images: The Straits Times Singapore; Google; Dr. Charles Koh Website.