Mr Lee remains 'critically ill', cops probe hoax

Mr Lee remains 'critically ill', cops probe hoax

Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew remains critically ill in the intensive care unit, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said yesterday morning.

Mr Lee, 91, has been hospitalised in the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) since Feb 5, when he was admitted for severe pneumonia.

Concerns rose on Wednesday after news broke that Mr Lee was critically ill and that his condition had deteriorated further.

On Wednesday night, screenshots were circulated of a fake website bearing the PMO logo and announcing Mr Lee's death.

The PMO said on Wednesday it was lodging a police report about the hoax website. The police said they are looking into the matter.

"We take a very stern view against anyone who doctors a government website to spread false information to deceive the public," Assistant Commissioner (AC) of Police Melvin Yong told The Straits Times.

"We will spare no effort to bring them to task. We also advise the public not to spread falsehoods," added AC Yong, who leads the police Public Affairs Department.

The hoax led some foreign news outlets, including CNN and China's CCTV, Sina and Phoenix Chinese News, to report that Mr Lee had died, only to retract the reports later. 

CNN Breaking News said in a tweet shortly after 10pm that Mr Lee had died, citing a "government website".

But 10 minutes later, it tweeted: "Reports emerge that statement attributed to Singapore Government about Lee Kuan Yew may not be official." Sina and Phoenix apologised for the mistake.

Family members and relatives visited Mr Lee on Wednesday, including his eldest child, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, 63, and grandson Lee Yipeng, 32.

In a Facebook post early yesterday morning, PM Lee's wife, Ho Ching, expressed hope that the fake news would be cleared up and thanked everyone for their prayers.

Mr Lee's worsening health was first announced on Tuesday, when the PMO said he had an infection and was being treated with antibiotics. It had said that doctors were monitoring his condition.

On Feb 28, the PMO said his condition had improved slightly and that he remained on antibiotics. It also said he continued to be sedated and on mechanical ventilation.

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