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Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan Yew ‘weakens further’

/ 07:05 PM March 22, 2015
In this March 20, 2013, file photo, Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew attends the Standard Chartered Singapore Forum in Singapore. AP

In this March 20, 2013, file photo, Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew attends the Standard Chartered Singapore Forum in Singapore. AP

SINGAPORE — The health condition of Singapore’s founding leader Lee Kuan Yew weakened further on Sunday as he battles severe pneumonia in hospital, the government said.

The 91-year-old, one of Asia’s towering post-colonial leaders, has been in the Singapore General Hospital for more than six weeks and is being aided by mechanical ventilation, a form of life support.

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“Mr. Lee Kuan Yew has weakened further today,” said a statement from the office of his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who visited him in hospital.

The government earlier said the patriarch was critically ill.

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Hundreds of floral tributes and cards dedicated to Lee have piled up outside the hospital as Singaporeans displayed affection for the British-educated lawyer who steered the city-state to prosperity but is also criticized for his iron-fisted rule.

Singapore media reported that the prime minister mingled early Sunday with well-wishers outside the hospital block where his father was being cared for under tight security.

The elder Lee was prime minister from 1959, when colonial ruler Britain granted Singapore self-rule, to 1990. He led Singapore to independence in 1965 after a brief and stormy union with Malaysia.

He stepped down as prime minister in favor of his deputy Goh Chok Tong, who in turn handed the reins to Lee’s eldest child in 2004.

The former leader is still an MP for the port district of Tanjong Pagar, but retired from advisory roles in government in 2011.

In a book published in 2013, Lee said he was feeling weaker by the day and wants a quick death.

He rapidly began to look feeble after his wife of 63 years, Kwa Geok Choo, died in 2010, and has rarely appeared in public in the last two years.

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Lee has signed an Advance Medical Directive, a legal document instructing doctors not to use any life-sustaining treatment if he cannot be resuscitated.

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