Singapore PM faints during National Day rally
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.
Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Lee had a ‘vasovagal episode’ – which occurs when the part of the nervous system that regulates heart rate and blood pressure malfunctions in response to a trigger.
Lee took ill during Sunday’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 for the check-up. Lee, who survived a bout of lymphoma – a form of cancer – in 1992, underwent surgery last year and has received the all-clear from doctors.