SINGAPORE, Aug. 21 (UPI) — Two hours into a speech at a National Day Rally, Singapore’s prime minister suddenly stopped speaking and slouched over his lectern, giving leaders and listeners a scare.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong fainted during a televised national address, disappearing for nearly 90 minutes before returning to finish the speech and tell the country he was fine but would be having a full medical exam afterward.
Lee, who has been in power since 2004, had been speaking for more than two hours in several languages when he suddenly stopped and physically stumbled before being helped off stage. After being checked out by doctors, he returned to finish the event.
“Thank you for waiting for me. I gave everybody a scare,” Lee told listeners, explaining he’d fainted due to dehydration but that doctors were not overly concerned, according to the Hindustan Times. “I think that’s what happened. I’ve never had so many doctors look at me all at once — they think I’m alright. But anyway, I’m going to have a full check-up after this.”
Lee was treated early last year for prostate cancer, and was treated and cleared of lymphoma about 20 years ago, however aides blamed the episode on fatigue and dehydration, and that doctors ruled out that he had a stroke.
The prime minister continued his speech, which the Sydney Morning Herald reports was focused on succession of leadership in the country and its importance. Using the scare to make his point, Lee said planning for the next transition of Singapore’s government should start now, considering an election is planned for sometime by early 2021.
“Soon after the next general election my successor must be ready to take over,” Lee said. “What just happened makes it even more important that I talk about it now.”