Joseph K. H. Koh
Mr. Joseph Koh Kok Hong is one of Singapore’s foremost authorities on spiders. His interest in zoology started when he was a child, when his late father exposed him to the subject through various nature publications. Mr. Koh later went on to pursue a degree in zoology in the then University of Singapore, where his interest in spiders was further encouraged by Prof. D. H. Murphy, who lectured on entomology. Mr. Koh joined the Singapore Civil Service in 1972, the start of his career as a diplomat. He has since held various positions in the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Some milestones in his career include appointments as the Minister-counsellor in the Singapore Embassy in Washington D.C. (1993–1994), Deputy Secretary of the MFA (1995), Singapore’s Trade Representative in Taipei (July 1996–September 2002), Singapore’s High Commissioner to Australia (November 2002–2005), and Singapore’s High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam (2005–2012).
On top of his key roles in the public service, Mr. Koh has made substantial contributions in promoting as well as furthering spider research in Singapore and Brunei. In 1989, he published a field guide to common spiders in Singapore, and went on to write several scientific papers on these animals. He holds the title of Honorary Research Affliate with the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (RMBR).
Mr. Koh’s spider collection currently totals more than 12,000 specimens from Singapore and the region (except Brunei), amassed from his 40 years of collecting. During his tenure in Brunei Darussalam, Mr. Koh’s collection grew by more than 1,000 specimens. He has pledged the former to the RMBR, while his voucher specimens from Brunei will go to the Brunei Museum as part of the Brunei National Spider Reference Collection.
Selected publications (in chronological order)
Koh, J. K. H., 1989. A Guide to Common Singapore Spiders. Singapore Science Centre, Singapore. 160 pp.
Koh, J. K. H., 1991. Spiders of the family Araneidae in Singapore mangroves. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, 39(1): 169–182.
Koh, J. 1991. Water Spiders. In: Ng, P. K. L. (ed.), Freshwater Life in Singapore. Singapore Science Centre, Singapore. Pp. 114–117.
L. M. Chou, P. K. L. Ng, S. Neo, D. H. Murphy, D. J. W. Lane & J. Koh, 1994. Invertebrates. In: Ng, P. K. L. & Y. C. Wee (eds.), The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore. The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. Pp. 314–325.
Murphy, D. H., P. K. L. Ng, S. Neo & J. Koh, 1994. Arthropods and Lower Chordates. In: Ng, P. K. L. & Y.C. Wee (eds.), The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore. The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. Pp. 105–183.
Koh, J. K. H. & D. Court, 2008. Spiders. In: Davison, G. W. H., P. K. L. Ng and H. C. Ho (eds.), The Singapore Red Data Book: Threatened Plants and Animals of Singapore. 2nd Edition. The Nature Society (Singapore), Singapore. Pp. 105–109.
Jäger, P. & J. K. H. Koh, 2011. Re-uniting sexes after a century: Rhityman ingens Simon 1897 is a junior synonym of R. pinangensis (Thorell 1891) (Araneae: Sparassidae). Acta Arachnologica, 61(1): 55–56.
Yoshida, H. & J. K. H. Koh, 2011. Phoroncidia, Janula and a new genus Brunepisinus (Araneae: Theridiidae) from Brunei. Acta Arachnologica, 60(2): 75-88.
Koh, J. K. H., 2000. A Guide to Common Singapore Spiders. http://habitatnews.nus.edu.sg/guidebooks/spiders/text/a-home.htm. (Accessed March 2012).