Goh Eck Kheng



Goh Eck Kheng (b. 1955, Singapore) is the founder of publishing house, Landmark Books. He served as a board member of the Media Development Authority from 2007 to 2008. In 2008, Goh was appointed chairman of the Speak Good English Movement.1

Early life
Goh is the youngest of three children born to Goh Kee Seah, a former teacher. His mother, Margaret, was a mathematics teacher, and he has two older sisters. Goh’s love for books, literature and the arts was cultivated at an early age. His father was a manager at the Donald Moore Gallery, an art gallery and bookstore located at Liat Towers, in the 1960s. Donald Moore, a long-time resident of Singapore, was both a publisher and an ardent supporter of the nascent arts scene in Singapore.2

When Goh was five years old, his family relocated to Hong Kong because his father had been posted there for work. As he was then too young to attend school, Goh spent much of his time in his father’s office, surrounded by books. The Goh family returned to Singapore in 1966. During the early 1970s, the elder Goh took over Moore’s business after the latter went bust. Together with his colleagues in Hong Kong and Tokyo, the elder Goh started United Publishers Services, a book distribution company that represented major British publishing houses such as Hodder & Stoughton and John Murray.3

Education
Goh studied at the Anglo-Chinese School and majored in the science stream during his secondary school years. Although he did not excel in the sciences, he did well enough to secure a place in the Anglo-Chinese pre-tertiary school, where he switched over to the arts stream.4 After his General Certificate of Education A (Advanced)-Level examination, Goh went on to read law at the National University of Singapore. During his third year in university, he decided that he would not practise law and chose to pursue a career in publishing instead. He did so after graduation and was called to the Singapore Bar.5


Career
Despite his father’s warnings about the difficulties of the book trade, Goh took up an editorial job in Eastern Universities Press, a subsidiary of United Publishers Services, for a monthly salary of S$700. When his father retired and United Publishers and Eastern Universities Press were sold to Times Publishing in the early 1980s, Goh worked in Times Books International for a year before striking out on his own.6  

In 1986, Goh set up Landmarks Books and published its first book – We Remember: Cameos of Pioneer Life by Yvonne Quahe7 – that same year. The publication chronicles the oral history of local pioneers of the 1920s and ’30s. While most publishing houses chose safe and commercially viable projects, Goh was willing to take chances with new and unknown Singaporean writers by publishing works such as Adrian Tan’s The Teenage Textbook (1988)8 and The Teenage Workbook (1988), which became bestselling novels.9

In 1991, Landmark Books became the first Singapore publishing firm to print its publications on recycled paper.10 To date, the company has published a wide range of genres – from art books, cookbooks, novels, poetry, to business books. To survive in the competitive publishing market, Goh maintains a small pool of staff and keeps the company overheads low.11 In the 2000s, the company began to direct its focus towards publishing Singapore books with an international appeal.12

Book designing
Besides being a publisher, Goh is also an award-winning book designer. In 1982, he won the first prize for his design work for Linda Berry’s Singapore River: A Living Legacy (1982). In 1988, he clinched book-designing prizes for To My Heart with Smiles: The Love Letters of Siew Fung Fong & Wan Kwai Pik (1920–1941) (1988)13 and Treasures from the National Museum Singapore (1987).14 The following year, the cover for Charles Kitten and the Story of Beaufort the Supreme Champion (1988)15 by Cecile Parrish took one of top five places at the annual Festival of Books’ Best Designed Book Competition.16


Community
involvement and interests

An active member of the arts and heritage community in Singapore, Goh enjoys photography and ceramics; his pottery pieces are sold in Singapore galleries. He is also a founding member of the theatre company, TheatreWorks.17 In 1993, he headed the Singapore Heritage Society’s publications sub-committee, during which time the committee published Living Legacy: Singapore’s Architectural Heritage Renewed,18 a coffee-table book that showcases some of the finest restored buildings in Singapore.19

In 2007, together with the National Museum of Singapore, Goh, as part of Landmark Books, jointly organised Family and Friends: A Singapore Album, a photography exhibition about Singapore families.20

Goh was a board member of the Media Development Authority from 2007 to 2008.21 In 2008, he was appointed chairman of the Speak Good English Movement Committee and, as at 2014, still held the position.22

Family
Goh married Anita Fam in 1998 and they have two children, Gillian and Timothy.23



Authors
Kartini Saparudin & Gracie Lee



References
1. He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Media Development Authority. (2006, December 29). MDA appoints new board members [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, December 17 from MDA website: https://www.imda.gov.sg/about/newsroom/archived/mda/media-releases/2006/mda-appoints-new-board-members
2. He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46; Publish – and be rewarded. (1992, August 27). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46; Publish – and be rewarded. (1992, August 27). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Quahe, Y. (1986). We remember: Cameos of pioneer life. Singapore: Landmark Books. (Call no.: RSING 959.5700992 QUA-[HIS])
8. Tan, A. (1988). The teenage textbook, or, The melting of the ice cream girl. Singapore: Landmark Books. (Call no.: RSING S823 TAN); Cheong, S. W. (1999, September 2). Go ahead, scrawl some rubbish. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46; Second Teenage book proves a fast-selling winner. (1989, September 12). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Tan, A. (1989). The teenage textbook, or, The melting of the ice cream girl. Singapore: Hotspot Books. (Call no.: RSING S823 TAN)
10. Reprint of local book first to use recycled paper in Singapore. (1991, August 6) The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Ho, P. (2016, March 29). Profile: Goh Eck Kheng. The A-List. Retrieved from The A-List website: http://a-list.sg/profile-goh-eck-kheng/; Publish – and be rewarded. (1992, August 27). The Straits Times, p. 2; He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Wong, M. K. (Ed.). (1988). To my heart with smiles: The love letters of Siew Fung Fong & Wan Kwai Pik (1920–1941). Singapore: Landmark Books. (Call no.: RSING 920.05957 TO)
14. Eng-Lee, S. C., & Liu, G. (1987). Treasures from the National Museum Singapore. Singapore: The Museum. (Call no.: RSING q708.95957 TRE)
15. Parrish, C. (1988). Charles Kitten and the story of Beaufort the supreme champion. Singapore: Landmark Books. Available via PublicationSG.
16. Lum, M. (1989, September 2). Publisher gets one of top design awardsThe Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Powell, R. (1993). Living legacy: Singapore’s architectural heritage renewed. Singapore: Singapore Heritage Society. (Call no.: RSING 363.69095957 POW)
19. Loh, S. (1993, December 4). Singapore’s best restored old housesThe Straits Times, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Chew, D. (2007, February 17). Family matters. Today, p. 31; National Museum in hunt for family photos. (2006, September 6). The Straits Times, p. H7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Media Development Authority. (2006, December 29). MDA appoints new board members [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, December 17 from MDA website: https://www.imda.gov.sg/about/newsroom/archived/mda/media-releases/2006/mda-appoints-new-board-members; Media Development Authority. (2009, January 9). MDA appoints seven new board members [Press release]. Retrieved 2016, December 17 from MDA website: https://www.imda.gov.sg/about/newsroom/archived/mda/media-releases/2009/mda-appoints-seven-new-board-members
22. He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Speak Good English Movement. (2014, May 28). Speech by Mr Goh Eck Kheng, chairman of the Speak Good English Movement at the launch of the Speak Good English Movement 2014, at 3.30pm on Wednesday 28 May 2014, at The Arts House. Retrieved 2016, December 17 from Speak Good English Movement website: http://goodenglish.org.sg/~/media/sgem/document/press%20room/2014/sgem%20launch%202014%20chairmans%20speech.pdf
23. Ng, W. C. (2013, February 14). She married her best friend. The Straits Times, p. 14; He talks the talk. (2008, May 26). The Straits Times, p. 46. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Chow, C. (2004, July 4). And for the record.... The Straits Times. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.


Foo, J. (1993, April 4). Not the Singapore song book. The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Publish — and be rewarded. (1992, August 27). The Straits Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is as valid as at 2014 and correct as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Award winners--Singapore--Biography
Writers
Publishers and publishing--Singapore
Language and literature>>Publishing
Goh, Eck Kheng--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Authors