More than 2 hours into the National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – who appeared droopy and exhausted – physically stumbled before signalling for medical attention. In the live broadcast, he could be seen falling towards the right of the rostrum before the cameras cut away to the audience. He was then escorted off stage. Soon after, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that the Rally would be halted.
The medical team which attended to him concluded that his condition was not serious. They confirmed that he did not have a stroke – as some feared, due to what seemed like twitching of the facial muscles – and that his collapse was due to “prolonged standing, heat and dehydration.”
The two Deputy Prime Ministers also reassured concerned Singaporeans that he was in a stable condition. DPM Teo Chee Hean, through a statement from the PMO, shared that he had spoken to PM Lee and confirmed that he would be taking the stage again to conclude the Rally.
Addressing journalists, DPM Tharman said
“I wouldn’t worry too much. This was a little blip. I know it’s a very anxious moment, but doctors have assessed that he’s fine and it’s not a serious situation. He is perfectly normal.. these things happen in life”
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak also tweeted his concern for his compatriot across the causeway.
An hour after the National Day Rally was suspended, PM Lee returned onstage; much to the delight of the audience, who welcomed him with a standing ovation.
PM Lee thanked the 4 SCDF Paramedics, who were invited to the rally after attending to Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s stroke earlier this year, for coming forward to provide medical attention when he was whisked off stage. He added that following the rally, he will go for a “full check-up” at the Singapore General Hospital.
SSG Janice Lee, SSG Mohd Imran, PMT Sheena Chiang and CPL (NSF) Ian Lok. (Photo from SCDF)
Minister Heng Swee Keat, who had just recovered from a stroke, also had words of praise for the SCDF Paramedics who attended to PM Lee. He said that “PM was in good hands with them.”
Upon his return, PM Lee spoke for about 15 minutes before concluding his rally. In wrapping up his rally, he touched on mortality and succession planning.
“Minister or not, all of us are mortal.. Nothing that has happened has changed my timetable, or my resolve to press on with succession. Soon after the next GE, my successor must be ready to take over from me.”
After the rally, the Prime Minister headed to the Singapore General Hospital for further examination. Within 5 minutes from the conclusion of the rally, his convoy left ITE College Central for SGH.