Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first prime minister, was discharged yesterday after being hospitalized for two days for a condition linked to a prolonged irregular heartbeat.
Lee, 89, was sent to the Singapore General Hospital after the suspected transient ischemic attack, a condition with stroke-like symptoms that clear within a day, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office on Feb. 16.
“The doctors are following up with him to optimize his anti-coagulation therapy, in order to minimize the risk of further transient ischemic attacks,” the PMO said in a statement yesterday.
Lee, the Cambridge University-trained lawyer who led the island since independence rom British rule, crafted a legacy of encouraging foreign investment, averting corruption and emphasizing discipline, efficiency and interracial harmony. He stepped down in 1990 after 31 years as prime minister, handing power to Goh Chok Tong. Lee’s eldest son, Lee Hsien Loong, took over from Goh as the third prime minister in 2004.
Under Lee’s 31 years as the city’s first elected premier, the nation was transformed from a colonial backwater into Southeast Asia’s only advanced economy. He stepped down in 1990, handing power to Goh Chok Tong. Lee’s eldest son, Lee Hsien Loong, took over from Goh as the third prime minister in 2004.
The elder Lee stayed on in the cabinet under Goh and his son, and resigned in May 2011 after the ruling party he co-founded won the general election with the smallest margin of popular vote since independence in 1965.
“There is still the view that Lee Kuan Yew wields tremendous influence and he is still seen as a talisman of thought,” said Eugene Tan, assistant law professor at Singapore Management University and a nominated member of Parliament. “There is a lot of interest and concern about his health. He embodies the golden age of Singapore in light of current difficulties. There is a mix of people who revere him and those who feel that he is no longer apt for this period in Singapore’s development.”
When Lee was 86, he was diagnosed with sensory peripheral neuropathy which impaired feeling in his legs, his daughter Lee Wei Ling, a senior consultant at the National Neuroscience Institute in Singapore, wrote in a column in the Sunday Times in November 2011. He also had a heart pacemaker implanted in 2008 after suffering from an irregular heartbeat.
The island republic is the only country in Asia with triple-A ratings from Moody’s Investors Service, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings.
Thousands of Singaporeans demonstrated on Feb. 16 against a government plan to increase the island’s population through immigration, saying the policy will erode the national identity and threaten their livelihoods.
Protesters gathered at Speakers’ Corner at Hong Lim Park at the edge of the city’s financial district on a rainy afternoon, many dressed in black and carrying signs opposing the plan. Lawmakers from Prime Minister Lee’s ruling party endorsed a white paper earlier this month that outlined proposals including allowing more foreigners through 2030 to boost the workforce.