Singapore: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong fainted while addressing a National Day Rally, shocking a live television audience, but officials on Monday said all his tests during a precautionary checkup were “normal”.
The 64-year-old leader, son of the city-state’s late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, suddenly stopped speaking an hour into his speech and had to be assisted off the stage by cabinet ministers.
Lee took ill during yesterday’s Rally – a traditional address to the nation on economics, policies and politics – after he had a “brief fainting spell”, Channel News Asia said in its report.
He returned to conclude his speech – part of celebrations for Singapore’s 51st anniversary as a republic on August 9 – an hour later, receiving a standing ovation from the audience. “Thank you for waiting for me. I gave everybody a scare,” he said with a smile. “The last time I did this was on a parade square at SAFTI; I fainted.” “I think that’s what happened. I’ve never had so many doctors look at me at once. I think I’m alright but I’m going to have a full checkup after this. Before that, I’d like to finish up my speech,” said Lee, who has been in power since 2004.
He later headed to Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for the check-up. Lee, who survived a bout of lymphoma – a form of cancer – in 1992, underwent surgery for prostate cancer last year and has received the all-clear from doctors. Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan today said the tests “were all normal”.
“PM was feeling unsteady because of prolonged standing, heat and dehydration. His heart is fine and he did not have a stroke,” Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in a statement.
During the break in proceedings, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Lee has had a gruelling schedule recently, and was “just feeling faint” after standing for a prolonged period of time. “I wouldn’t worry too much. This was a little blip.”
President Tony Tan Keng Yam posted on Facebook after speaking to Lee. “Spoke with PM this afternoon, after his brief fainting spell last evening during his National Day Rally speech. PM was his usual jovial self,” he wrote. He added that PM had a busy schedule recently, and that the preparation for the National Day Rally “took a toll on him”. “On behalf of all Singaporeans, I wish PM well.”
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak also tweeted: “Heard that you’re not feeling well. I hope you’re all right. Get well soon.” Lee replied later: “Thanks for your good wishes. My doctors tell me I should be OK.