SINGAPORE - Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew is in intensive care with severe pneumonia, and has been warded at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for the past two weeks.
News of his illness was announced by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in a statement yesterday evening, and immediately drew messages of concern, prayers and wishes for a quick recovery online and at constituency events.
Mr Lee, 91, was admitted to hospital on Feb 5, the statement said.
"His condition has stabilised, and he remains on mechanical ventilation in the ICU," it added. "He is conscious and lightly sedated."
A mechanical ventilator takes over the breathing function of the lungs, giving medication time to work and the body time to recover.
The statement also said: "His doctors are continuing to monitor his condition. PMO will keep the public informed of any change."
Mr Lee is an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC and, being ill, he is likely to miss this year's Chinese New Year events in his constituency, an area he has represented for the past 60 years since he won the 1955 legislative assembly election.
After the PMO statement was issued, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Facebook post that he visited his father at SGH yesterday morning.
PM Lee was himself at SGH last week for surgery to remove his prostate gland, after being diagnosed with prostate cancer last month. He was discharged last Wednesday, and his surgeon said he should make a full recovery.
In his Facebook post, PM Lee said he did not see his father on the first day of Chinese New Year, on the advice of both their doctors.
"So, we wished him Happy New Year today, and a smooth recovery," he said. "This was the first year in a long while that we could not attend the Lee family reunion dinner."
Last night, PM Lee responded to well-wishers on Facebook, saying: "Thank you all for your good wishes for my father's recovery. I am deeply touched."
Mr Lee Kuan Yew's ill health has prevented him from attending a number of public and constituency events in recent months.
However, he appeared at the People's Action Party's 60th anniversary celebrations at the Victoria Concert Hall last November, as well as his constituency's Tree Planting Day earlier in the same month.
Last August, he attended Tanjong Pagar GRC's National Day dinner.
But he has missed his constituency's Chinese New Year dinners for the past two years, as he had also been hospitalised during that period.
In 2013, he was admitted for observation after recovering from a suspected episode of a transient ischaemic attack, when blood flow to a part of the brain stops briefly.
Last year, he was admitted for a fever and a bad cough caused by an infection.
Yesterday, many well-wishers hoped that Mr Lee would recover fully to join in the celebrations for Singapore's 50th anniversary of independence.
Wishing him a speedy recovery, Social and Family Development Minister Chan Chun Sing said on Facebook: "Looking forward to him joining us again soon to celebrate SG50."
Former MP S. Vasoo said: "Knowing him, as a fighter, I think he will have the capacity to fight through this illness that he is facing."
This article was first published on Feb 22, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.