On February 21st the Singapore government confirmed rumours that the founding father of Singapore, veteran former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, had been admitted to the intensive care unit of the Singapore General Hospital.
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said that Mr Lee had been hospitalised with severe pneumonia on February 5th and that he was on mechanical ventilation. The PMO added that he was conscious and lightly sedated and that his condition has “stabilised”. The 91-year-old leader’s health has been poor in recent years. During the Lunar New Year in 2014, he was hospitalised for fever and a bad cough caused by an infection, while in February 2013 he was admitted to hospital for a stroke-like condition-a suspected transient ischaemic attack, in which an irregular heartbeat temporarily stopped blood flow to the brain.
Since news of his hospitalisation became public, thousands of people have wished Mr Lee a speedy recovery on social media, including several bloggers who are frequently critical of the government. Mr Lee’s last public appearance was in early November, when he joined local residents for an annual tree-planting event.
Reports of Mr Lee’s poor health in recent years ostensibly have not had an impact on the government, and the confirmation of his hospitalisation hardly created a ripple in financial markets. However, although he has not held a cabinet position since 2011, his track record, leadership style and legacy continue to exert a strong influence over current office-holders, including the present prime minister, his son, Lee Hsien Loong, whose recent successful lawsuit against blogger Roy Ngerng for defamation, for example, was strongly reminiscent of his father’s methods of dealing with dissent.
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