SINGAPORE - The Singapore government Wednesday quashed rumours that ailing former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had died and asked police to investigate a "doctored" statement on his passing.
The 91-year-old Asian statesman is in critical condition at a government hospital six weeks after being confined for severe pneumonia, according to an official health update.
"There is an image of a doctored statement supposedly from the prime minister's office. It is fake," a government spokesperson told AFP.
"The prime minister's office is lodging a police report over the fake statement about Mr Lee Kuan Yew's passing," which will trigger an investigation, the spokesperson added.
A screenshot purportedly of a statement on the government's website announcing Lee's death was widely circulated via social media and mobile messaging services late Wednesday.
At least two international news organisations issued news alerts based on the fake statement, which they later retracted.
Lee, the father of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, was in power from 1959 to 1990.
The patriarch has been receiving treatment in the intensive care unit at Singapore General Hospital since February 5 and has been breathing with the help of "mechanical ventilation," a form of life support, the government has said.
In a book published in 2013, Lee, a British-educated lawyer, said he was feeling weaker by the day and wants a quick death.
He has signed an Advance Medical Directive, a legal document instructing doctors not to use any life-sustaining treatment to keep him alive if he cannot be resuscitated.