Condition of Singapore's founding leader Lee worsens: PM

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 17 2015 03:21 PM | Updated as of Mar 18 2015 12:00 AM

SINGAPORE, Singapore - The health of Singapore's founding leader and ex-prime minister Lee Kuan Yew has "worsened" due to an infection, the government said Tuesday.

Lee, 91, has been hospitalized for severe pneumonia since February 5 at the Singapore General Hospital, where he is on life support at the intensive care unit.

"Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s condition has worsened due to an infection. He is on antibiotics. The doctors are closely monitoring his condition," said a statement from the office of his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

In a statement on February 21, the government said Lee was stable but breathing with the help of "mechanical ventilation" -- commonly also known as life support.

The senior Lee is widely credited with transforming Singapore from an economic backwater to one of Asia's wealthiest economies in just over three decades.

He served as prime minister from 1959, when Singapore gained self-rule from colonial ruler Britain, until he stepped down in 1990 in favor of his deputy Goh Chok Tong, who in turn handed power to Lee Hsien Loong in 2004.

The People's Action Party, which was co-founded by the elder Lee, has been returned to power in every election since 1959 and currently holds 80 of the 87 seats in parliament.

In a book published in 2013, the Asian statesman said he feels weaker by the day and wants a quick death.

The longtime fitness buff has visibly slowed since his wife of 63 years Kwa Geok Choo died in 2010.

Lee, a Cambridge-educated lawyer, is revered by large segments of Singapore's population, with many taking to social media in recent weeks to voice messages of support following news of his ill health.

On February 25 government officials and state-linked media were forced to come out on social media to quash late-night rumors that he had died.

In a Facebook post on March 13, Lee Hsien Loong said "my family and I are deeply touched" by Singaporeans' messages of support for his father.

Some had sent the elder Lee paintings and cards with messages of support.

"We've arranged the cards in his office, to welcome him back when he's better," the younger Lee said.

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