The 64-year-old leader, son of the city-state's late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, suddenly stopped speaking an hour into his speech and had to be assisted off the stage by cabinet ministers.

Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan on Moday  said Lee had had a 'vasovagal episode' - which occurs when the part of the nervous system that regulates heart rate and blood pressure malfunctions in response to a trigger. Lee took ill during yesterday's Rally - a traditional address to the nation on economics, policies and politics - after he had a "brief fainting spell", Channel News Asia said in its report. He returned to conclude his speech - part of celebrations for Singapore's 51st anniversary as a republic on August 9 - an hour later, receiving a standing ovation from the audience.

"Thank you for waiting for me. I gave everybody a scare," he said with a smile. "The last time I did this was on a parade square at SAFTI; I fainted."
"I think that's what happened. I've never had so many doctors look at me at once. I think I'm alright but I'm going to have a full checkup after this. Before that, I'd like to finish up my speech," said Lee, who has been in power since 2004. He later headed to Singapore General Hospital (SGH) for the check-up. Lee, who survived a bout of lymphoma - a form of cancer - in 1992, underwent surgery for prostate cancer last year and has received the all-clear from doctors.

Balakrishnan said the tests "were all normal". In a Facebook post, Balakrishnan, who is an ophthalmologist by training and was among those who rushed to the stage after Lee took ill, said that Lee had had a 'vasovagal episode'. Common triggers include standing for long periods of time and heat exposure. Individuals may experience light- headedness, blurred vision and break out in a cold, clammy sweat, before briefly losing consciousness. "When we rushed up on stage, we found PM Lee fully conscious but having classic symptoms and signs - sweatiness, low heart rate and low blood pressure," Balakrishnan said.

"The initial light headedness resolved within minutes, and I knew he just wanted to get back on stage to complete his speech. Whilst the initial tests were being done, he was busy re-editing his speech!" he added. "PM was feeling unsteady because of prolonged standing, heat and dehydration. His heart is fine and he did not have a stroke," Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said in a statement.

 

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