Wednesday 18 December 2013

Dr Koh Poh Koon and toilet humour

By Tessa Wong, MyPaper, 16 Dec 2013

Ask Dr Koh Poh Koon whether it was unbecoming for him to star in a cheeky - some say distasteful - YouTube video about colons, and he will give you a shrug.

"Already people are calling me the 'asshole doctor'... what's the difference?" said the colorectal surgeon with a laugh, adding that it was not as if "I put on a clown costume and ran around... It wasn't demeaning at all."

In October, Dr Koh stepped back into the public eye with a humorous video about colon cancer, produced by Fortis Healthcare.

Chock-full of literal toilet humour and fart jokes, it features Dr Koh lampooning his turn in January's Punggol East by-election, where the People's Action Party (PAP) candidate lost to the Workers' Party's Lee Li Lian.

One scene has him donning a victor's garland and pumping his fist in the air, while urging viewers to go for early colorectal screening.

The video received mixed reactions online. Some found it humorous while others said it was unprofessional. One website said it was proof that he "does not want to run for office again".

But Dr Koh said that if he lost any political points with the video, it is a "good sacrifice", given its worthy message.

"If people have the mindset that politicians must be strait-laced, they must be cast in a certain mould, I can't help it. But at the end of the day, our job is to be as close to the ground as we can, to have a common platform with the people we serve," he said.

Another mission is to start "winning hearts" ahead of the next general election. Party leaders at the recent PAP convention had called on activists to speak up and spread the party's message, including online where there is a preponderance of critical sentiment.

Ordinary citizens, especially those who support the PAP Government, should also speak up, said Dr Koh. Using the Singlish term for reserving, he said: "If you don't go and chope the seat, someone else is going to chope it and make it look like that's the way (everyone thinks)."

When MyPaper pointed out that people tend to speak up only when they are unhappy, he said it was a matter of further "politically awakening" Singaporeans. To do this, the PAP must "take pains to explain to people what is at stake" as a small country.

Some Singaporeans may be tired of hearing this kind of survivalist talk, he acknowledged, but he believes "there are enough sensible people around to understand that this is the reality that confronts us."

With the Government addressing problems in housing, transport and immigration, "if these pain points at the national level are taken off, I think people are less likely to respond to all this emotional rhetoric... people will return to rationality, take over the online space and build some sense in the discussion online."

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