All normal for PM Lee Hsien Loong after late-night check-up at SGH: Vivian Balakrishnan

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivering his National Day Rally speech at ITE College Central on Aug 21, 2016.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong delivering his National Day Rally speech at ITE College Central on Aug 21, 2016. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - A late-night check-up for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong after he was taken ill during Sunday (Aug 21) night's National Day Rally has indicated that he is fine.

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, in a Facebook post on Monday morning, said that Mr Lee, 64, had gone to the Singapore General Hospital for more tests following the rally at ITE College Central.

"We then went to SGH for more tests - which were all normal before calling it a night around 1.30am," Dr Balakrishnan wrote.

He described the incident - which saw Mr Lee pause and falter during his English speech at around 9.20pm as the audience looked on anxiously - as a "vasovagal episode".

A vasovagal response results from an abnormal circulatory reflex resulting in abnormal relaxation of the body's blood vessels. A person usually faints during such a reaction.

 
 
 

"When we rushed up on stage, we found PM Lee fully conscious but having classic symptoms and signs - sweatiness, low heart rate and low blood pressure. The initial light headedness resolved within minutes, and I knew he just wanted to get back on stage to complete his speech," he said.

Dr Balakrishnan also offered a glimpse into Mr Lee's determination to carry on with his speech, adding: "Whilst the initial tests were being done, he was busy re-editing his speech! And then he went back on and completed his speech. His words took on added significance."

"Let us all count our blessings, and continue to do our best. There is still so much more to be done. Hope PM got a good night's rest. He deserves it!"

Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung, who responded to queries about Mr Lee's condition on the sidelines of a SkillsFuture event on Monday morning, said he had a "very deep respect for what PM has done".

He recounted the incident: "Yesterday, when we were all in the audience and we saw that he was unsteady; it was due to many hours of standing, it was hot, I think he was dehydrated so a bit unsteady.

"All of us had a shock and we could hear the gasp. We were all very thankful that he's all right, he came back and finished the speech." 

"I just felt that whatever he wanted to say must be so important to him, to want to say it to Singaporeans. I don't think he wanted to let down the audience, to let down the viewers at home, to let down Singaporeans," Mr Ong added.

Mr Lee received a standing ovation from the audience after he returned to the stage at 10.40pm.

He wrapped up his speech by announcing that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat - who suffered a stroke in May - would resume his duties soon, and also drove home the importance of leadership succession.

A new Prime Minister must be ready to take over after the next general election, he said.

"What happened makes it more important that I talk about it now."