Martin Poh does Heng Hua community proud by being honoured with Knight Bachelor

Poh being dubbed by Prince William in a knighting ceremony.


Poh holding his award.


KUCHING: Sir Martin Poh (listed as Sang Chung POH) brought pride to the Heng Hua people when he became the first from the community in Malaysia to receive the ‘Knight Bachelor’ award presented by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (William Arthur Philip Louis) at Buckingham Palace, United Kingdom recently.

With the award, he now carries the ‘Sir’, a title of honour for a knight.

He was one of the more than 1,000 people who were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2017 held in June. Coming from a fishing village in Sg Apong here, Poh said the recognition is an honour to the Heng Hua, a minority Chinese dialect of the immigrants from Putian in Fujian province.

“To get this honour is priceless. I did not expect to get this award at all,” he told a group of reporters yesterday.

Poh said he dropped out of secondary school because of financial difficulties. At the age of 18, he became a delivery boy at a pharmaceutical wholesale company. With self-determination and encouragement from his superior, he learnt English and became a fulltime salesman for three years, until one day he and four others started a company which focused on pharmaceutical wholesale in Sabah and Sarawak, because his ambition was to be a successful businessman.

In 1996, upon a suggestion from a colleague, he went with his colleague to Papua New Guinea and explored opportunities there.

He found a market and stayed there.

In 1997, he started Borneo Pacific Pharmaceutical Ltd (BPP) as an agent and a distributor of pharmaceutical and healthcare products in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

It soon flourished, becoming a dynamic wholesaler supplying the markets in Solomon Island, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and western Samoa.  Today BPP, a 100 per cent local-owned PNG company, has grown to be a diversified conglomerate supplying cost effective, quality pharmaceuticals and healthcare products.

In 2009, he founded the PNG Kidney Foundation to help the needy people in his adopted country. In 2013, the foundation set up a dialysis clinic in the Port Moresby General Hospital.

Poh is a true philanthropist, a businessman who once was poor. In June, as part of the Queen’s Birthday Honours, he was made a Knight Bachelor for his services to PNG and the community.

To mark 100 years of the Order of the British Empire, this year’s awards are the most diverse ever. In this centenary year, the Honours List has granted a great number of awards to individuals from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.

Kuching Hing Ann Association (for the Heng Hua clan) chairman Michael Teo said he hoped Poh’s achievement would set an example to the community.

“It is indeed a very proud moment for us, the Heng Hua community. This is an honour that does not come by often and easily.

“I hope others would follow his lead, and I hope he will also do some contribution to our community,” he said.

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