February 26, 2015
SIINGAPORE said Thursday, Feb 26, that its founding leader Lee Kuan Yew is still on life support in hospital and being treated with antibiotics for severe pneumonia, after quashing rumours the 91-year-old had died.
"He remains sedated and on mechanical ventilation," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. "His doctors have restarted him on antibiotics, and are continuing to monitor him closely."
The update came after state-linked local media and government officials took to social media late Wednesday to debunk widespread
rumours that the city-state's patriarch had died.
Lee, who is widely credited with transforming Singapore from an economic backwater to a rich economy in just over three decades, was brought to the Singapore General Hospital on February 5 with severe pneumonia.
In general, a fresh dose of antibiotics and a prolonged reliance on mechanical ventilation are indications that the pneumonia is persisting, doctors said.
In the case of pneumonia, machine-assisted breathing -- commonly termed as life support -- "can be used to help the body recover and rest the respiratory muscles," Dr Leong Choon Kit, a local general practitioner, told AFP.
Lee, who co-founded the People's Action Party (PAP) which has governed Singapore uninterrupted since 1959, has visibly slowed
since his wife of 63 years Kwa Geok Choo died in 2010, and has been in frail health.
His last high-profile public appearance was in November, when he received a standing ovation at the 60th anniversary of the
founding of the PAP.
In a newspaper column in 2011, the Asian statesman's physician daughter Lee Wei Ling revealed that he had been battling a neurological disease that makes it difficult for him to walk.
In a book published in 2013, Lee said he feels weaker by the day and wants a quick death.
He said he had signed an Advance Medical Directive, a legal document instructing doctors not to use any life-sustaining treatment in the event one becomes terminally ill and unconscious and where death is imminent.
The Cambridge-educated lawyer served as prime minister from 1959, when Singapore gained self-rule from colonial ruler Britain, until
he stepped down in 1990.
His son, Lee Hsien Loong, is the current prime minister.
While widely admired for shepherding Singapore into economic prosperity, Lee has faced criticism from rights advocates for
clamping down on dissent by jailing political opponents or driving them to bankruptcy through costly libel suits.