Some unexpected drama broke out during Singapore’s month-long anniversary celebrations for its 51 st year as a republic, when on Sunday August 21 Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong fainted in the middle of a long speech shown on television, and had to be assisted off the stage to recover.
The 64-year old Lee is the eldest son of Singapore’s first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, and also a cancer survivor. The Guardian reports that during his Annual National Day Rally address, held at the Singapore Institute of Technical Education, he was about two hours into his speech, standing up, when he paused for more than a few seconds in between statements, and his face grew pale and sweaty.
As the audience watched in growing concern and alarm, Lee gripped the podium and looked as if he were about to fall over. Before he actually could however, Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen who was seated behind the Prime Minister, stood up to steady him. Ng described Lee’s condition as a “fainting spell”, and proceeded to help the Prime Minister away from the stage as television cameras cut away from the podium to capture the shocked expressions of some of the spectators.
Lee’s social media accounts posted an announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office immediately afterwards, stating that his condition was stable and was being monitored by a medical team, denying that Lee suffered a heart attack or stroke, only that he had an adverse reaction to heat and dehydration from standing a long period, and assuring that he would return in about a half-hour to complete his speech.
But as the half-hour became a full hour and more, the audiences at both the Institute and TV could not help but worry and speculate. Prominent was the Twitter post by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak: “Heard that you’re not feeling well. I hope you’re all right. Get well soon.”
Just as the clock was nearing an hour and a half, Lee returned to the podium looking well and
smiling. The stage audience gave him a standing ovation as he prepared to resume his address. He first explained, “Last time I did this I was on the parade square in Safti, I fainted. I think that's what happened, I've never had so many doctors look at me at once. But anyway I’m going to have a full check- up after this.”
The rest of Lee’s commemorative speech concluded without further incident.
Lee has been in power in Singapore since 2004. Earlier in 1992 he fought through a cancerous lymphoma, and last 2015 he underwent an operation for prostate cancer. It was successful and Lee was declared cancer-free by his physicians. The National Day Rally speech, the Singaporean “State of the Nation” address, is held on the second Sunday after the country’s National Day on August 9, of which 2016 is the 51 st anniversary.
Photo Credit to www.straitstimes.com