Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has been given a clean bill of health after undergoing surgery in February to remove his cancerous prostate gland.
Doctors told him after a blood test two weeks ago that his survival rate for prostate cancer is 98 per cent after 15 years, he revealed in his May Day Rally speech yesterday.
"Over the next 15 years, my chances of dying because of the prostate cancer is just 2 per cent. It is not bad... you can go to the bookies with that," said Mr Lee, drawing laughter from the audience at the Star Performing Arts Centre.
But on a more sober note, he noted that he will be 78 in 15 years, saying: "Even if the prostate cancer doesn't cause me trouble, something else will act up."
The same risk applies to the other ministers, which is why Singapore needs to form the next team of leaders, he said.
"Just because you are a minister doesn't mean you are Superman, it doesn't mean you won't get ill, it doesn't mean you don't grow old. And from time to time, ministers get ill," he added. "As a courtesy, they usually let me know so I can share their worries. If I lose any of them, my team would be weakened."
A weakened team would make it harder for the Government to deliver the results that Singaporeans expect, he said. Mr Lee had a bout of lymphoma in 1992, which is now in remission.
His comments yesterday came more than two months after Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who is known for his fitness, was diagnosed with a build-up of fluid between layers of tissue lining the lungs and chest cavity.
Mr Lee noted that Mr Tan was part of a team of ministers who conceived the SkillsFuture credit scheme announced at this year's Budget. Similarly, schemes such as the Pioneer Generation Package relied heavily on the contributions of ministers.
Mr Lee said: "So, I need good men and women to come in, to form the next team to take Singapore forward, beyond me and my generation of leaders."
This article was first published on May 02, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.