S R Nathan, the sixth and longest-serving president of the country, is in a critical condition after he had a stroke on early Sunday morning (31 July).
He is now being treated in the Intensive Care Unit at Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
Prior to this, Mr Nathan had a stroke in April 2015 where he was hospitalised for almost three weeks. He has been diagnosed with kidney failure and had been undergoing dialysis in the past few months.
The Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was on his way to Washington DC, expressed his grief on his Facebook account and that he had been in touch with his family. He wrote, “He (Mr Nathan) made many good friends for Singapore, and planted many seeds, including this beautiful antique Littleleaf Japanese Maple at our Washington DC embassy,”
Other members of the cabinet and former members also voiced their concerns on Mr Nathan’s health.
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said on his Facebook account that the doctor said the vital signs are stable but it is too early to say how he would progress. He told reporters at Singapore General Hospital that Mr Nathan is a fighter and he had gone through this many times before.
Former Speaker of Parliament Abdullah Tarmugi said that even though he knew that Mr Nathan has been ill for quite some time, the news was still shocking to him. “I think all Singaporeans are quite shocked and concerned. We knew that he had been ill for some time and were so shocked that he had a stroke…naturally, his family is concerned,” he said.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said that Mr Nathan sent a letter to him last week sharing his experience of suffering a stroke last week. Mr Eng wrote on his Facebook, “He then added pensively that he had ‘soldiered on and hoped to stay active for another year, before I call it a day’. What a remarkable man, I thought to myself. It could not be easy, but even at this age and with declining health, Mr Nathan still wanted to contribute and make a difference in the lives of others, at least for another year.”
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who was acting as Prime Minister during Mr Lee’s absence, said, “Our thoughts and prayers, including those of PM Lee and Mrs Lee who are currently in the US, are with Mr Nathan, Mrs Nathan and the family.”
Former Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kang Seng said that the last time he visited Mr Nathan was just 10 days ago and said that Mr Nathan was alert and in good spirit.
Minister in the Prime Minister Office, Chan Chun Sing who is also in PM Lee’s delegation said on his Facebook account, “Saddened to hear that former president S R Nathan is currently in intensive care after suffering a stroke. My thoughts are with his family during this trying period. Let’s keep him in our prayers and for him to have a speedy recovery.”
Former Senior Minister of State Zainul Abidin Rasheed said that he is still unconscious and sedated. He just met Mr Nathan last week and that he seemed to be in a good condition. “He was really in top spirits and talking about the contributions of the Malay-Muslim community, ” he said.
Mr Nathan was sworn in as the sixth President of Singapore on 1 September 1999. He was elected President without contest in both Presidential elections in 1999 and 2005.
The last appearance of Mr Nathan in public was at the launching of the book Majulah! 50 Years of Malay/Muslim Community in Singapore on 29 May this year.