Teh's early education began at Lai Teck School and later at Chung Ling High School, Penang. He studied architecture at the University of Sydney in Australia, graduating in 1956.
Teh's early career was as an architect at PWD, New South Wales, Australia. He then moved to the Housing Commission in New South Wales before expanding his expertise with the Housing Trust in Kuala Lumpur and serving in the Penang City Council. In August 1959, he joined the Singapore Improvement Trust as an architect. He was promoted to Chief Architect, Building Department of the newly formed Housing and Development Board (HDB) in October 1959. Later he became the Chief Executive Officer of HDB from 1970 to January 1979. He was also the Chairman of Jurong Town Corporation between September 1976 to March 1979. He resigned from his posts to go into politics.
Teh was elected as a Member of Parliament for Geylang West constituency in January 1979, and held the seat till December 1986. He was also appointed as the Minister for National Development from 1 February 1979 to 14 December 1986.
Teh was investigated for corruption by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau for accepting two bribes of $500,000 each in 1981 and 1982. Then Minister for National Development, he had allegedly accepted bribes totaling $1 million from 2 private companies for helping them retain and buy over a piece of state land for private development.
In November 1986, the then Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, approved an open investigation on his alleged corruption, however, the papers were issued to the Attorney-General on December 11. Though Teh maintained his innocence, he committed suicide before being charged for the offences, on December 14.
In his suicide note, Teh wrote:
As a result of the suicide, the Attorney-General could not proceed with the charges, although Lee Kuan Yew responded with a condolence letter after ascertaining the cause of his death with Ministry of Health. However, there was a subsequent investigation into the matter as a result of allegation of Chiam See Tong, the opposition MP, that there were unanswered questions into the whole episode. On 20 January 1987, the State Coroner returned a verdict of suicide due to an overdose of amytal barbiturate. In December 1987, the findings of the Commission of Inquiry were presented to the President of Singapore, however, they were not released to the public till the end the year. The entire probe lasted 31 months.
1976 : Meritorious Service Medal
Wife: Luna Teh Son: Teh Kwan Sek Daughter: Teh Kwan Geok