Heng Swee Keat's condition stable, will stay in ICU for some time: PM Lee

PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has given an update on Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, saying that his condition is currently stable.

"His condition is stable, but he will remain in the intensive care unit (ICU) for some time," he wrote in a Facebook post on Friday evening (May 13).

PM Lee revealed he had visited Mr Heng at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, who suffered a sudden stroke on Thursday.

He said Mr Heng was sedated during the visited, and assured Singaporeans that Mr Heng "is in very good hands, like all patients at the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI)".

Mr Heng, 54, collapsed at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday. He was immediately attended to by three doctors in Cabinet, namely Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Minister of State Janil Puthucheary.

He was subsequently conveyed to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement that Mr Heng had suffered an aneurysm, which is a localised weakening of a blood vessel. He then underwent initial neurosurgery to relieve pressure in his brain due to the bleeding, which successfully closed the aneurysm.

PM Lee added that he had spoken to Mr Heng's family during his visit.

"It is a tough time for them. They are touched by the sympathy and support from so many Sinagaporeans, and asked me to thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes," he wrote.

According to The Straits Times, many Singaporeans also visited the hospital to ask about Mr Heng, and filled a table at its Heritage Museum with flowers, cards and gifts.

Mr Heng was appointed Finance Minister after last year's General Election, and had recently delivered his maiden budget in Parliament on March 24.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said that Mr Heng was carrying an "incredible load", and was visibly tired.

"I have been telling him that he was overworking so much that it will affect his health," Mr Shanmugam said.

Besides helming the Finance Ministry, he is also the chair of the Committee of the Future Economy, a high-level panel convened to develop strategies to keep Singapore's economy competitive.

On Thursday, PMO said that Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies, will be covering Mr Heng's duties as Finance Minister while he recovers.

seanyap@sph.com.sg