Singapore PM suffers spell during live televised speech | News | DW | 21.08.2016
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Singapore PM suffers spell during live televised speech

Doctors have attended to Singapore's prime minister after he took ill while delivering a National Day rally speech. When he resumed the address, he stressed the need to prepare for his successor.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had to be helped off the stage Sunday after he stopped speaking and slouched over his lectern two hours into a televised speech.

Lee's office said in a statement he was "feeling unsteady because of prolonged standing, heat and dehydration."

"His heart is fine and he did not have stroke," it added.

The rally was temporarily suspended while Lee rested and received medical attention. When he returned to the stage around an hour later, the crowd greeted him with a standing ovation.

"Thank you for waiting for me. I gave everybody a scare," Lee told the audience. "I never had so many doctors look at me all at once. They think I'm all right, but anyway I'm going to have a full checkup after this."

Lee, 64, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year and underwent surgery to remove the gland. He also survived a bout of lymphoma in 1992.

Search for a successor

After resuming his speech, Lee emphasized the importance of an orderly leadership succession, but did not mention the names of potential successors.

"Nothing that has happened has changed my timetable or my resolve to press on with a succession," he said. "In the next GE (general election), we will reinforce the team again and soon after the next GE, my successor must be ready to take over from me."

Lee leads the ruling People's Action Party, which has governed Singapore since it became independent from Malaysia in 1965. He initially joined the military before entering politics and following in the footsteps of his father, the city-state's late founding leader, Lee Kuan Yew.

Lee has spoken each year at the National Day rally since taking office in 2004. The event is seen as a chance for leaders to unveil plans for the future of the wealthy island nation.

The address usually takes around three hours and is delivered separately in three languages. Lee had already given his speeches in Malay and Mandarin and was halfway through the English version of the speech when he had to be accompanied from the stage.

nm/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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