National Day Rally 2016: Doctors say I am all right, says PM Lee after resuming speech

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong waving to the audience after returning to finish his speech. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong returning to the stage at 10.40pm to finish delivering his speech. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Mrs Lee Hsien Loong returns to the auditorium after the break in the rally. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong being helped by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen after he suddenly felt unwell during the National Day Rally on Aug 21, 2016. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who took ill while delivering his National Day Rally speech on Sunday (Aug 21) night, was feeling unsteady because of prolonged standing, heat and dehydration. His heart is fine and he did not have a stroke, said the Prime Minister's Office (PMO).

The rally resumed at about 10.40pm.

Mr Lee, 64, returned to the stage to a standing ovation and said that while doctors had said he was okay, he would have a full check-up after.

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong took ill about an hour and twenty minutes into his English National Day Rally speech on Sunday night. He returned more than hour later to complete his speech.

"Thank you for waiting for me. I gave everybody a scare. The 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 all at once. They think I'm all right but I'm going to have a full check-up after this," he said.

MP Alex Yam later told reporters after the rally that Mr Lee was on his way to the Singapore General Hospital for a check-up. Fellow MP Chia Shi-Lu confirmed on Facebook that Mr Lee was having a precautionary check-up, as did National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

PM Lee, in a reply on his Twitter account to Malaysian PM Najib Razak, wrote at about 2am: "Thanks for your good wishes. My doctors tell me I should be OK."

Mr Najib had earlier tweeted: "Heard that you're not feeling well. I hope you're all right. Get well soon."

The rally had been suspended at around 9.20pm after Mr Lee was taken ill in the midst of his English speech. The medical team attending to him assessed that his condition was not serious.

Mr Lee was seen waving to the audience before he walked off the stage with the help of Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Acting Education Minister Ng Chee Meng.

PM Lee waves to the audience as he is helped off the stage. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Curtains were drawn on the stage of the ITE College Central auditorium. People in the audience were shocked and some started whispering about what could have happened. Soon, many of the guests started making their way out of the auditorium to the hall outside.

The mood was sombre. At 9.31pm, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said on Mr Lee's Facebook that Mr Lee "took ill" while speaking at the rally. "The medical team is attending to him now. They assess that his condition is not serious. PMO will update in due course."

The mood became perceptibly lighter among the guests.

At about 10pm, Mr Teo announced that Mr Lee would resume his rally. "PM Lee says please enjoy the reception," he added, to applause.

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Speaking to the media during the break in the rally, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Mr Lee was feeling fine and taking a rest.

Mr Lee has had a tough schedule, he said. But he is "in good shape" and "he is strong enough to carry on", Mr Tharman added.

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In a Facebook post after the rally, Mr Tharman said Mr Lee had "real mental strength". He wrote: "He had been standing for a long time, and was dehydrated. But he eventually came back to a standing ovation, looking good, and ended his speech on an uplifting note on our future as Singaporeans."

Mrs Lee Hsien Loong returns to the auditorium after the break in the rally. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Ministers and MPs wished Mr Lee well on social media and praised him for soldiering on with the rally.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean expressed his wish for Mr Lee to have some "well-deserved rest".

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam said on Facebook that it was good to see Mr Lee back and that he came back stronger.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was watching the rally, said in a Facebook post he never felt such a surge of joy as when PM came back on stage tonight after he took ill.

"He looked very well, full of colour and spirit, just like his usual self. I hope his full check-up after the NDR will find that everything is okay, and I hope PM will take some rest," Mr Heng wrote.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing wrote on Facebook that Mr Lee's "tenacity and determination to carry on delivering the speech despite taking ill touched and inspired those of us in the audience and those watching at home".

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said on Facebook that Mr Lee's insistence on returning to finish his speech was "true leadership by example".

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