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Singapore’s founder hospitalized with pneumonia

February 22, 2015

SINGAPORE (AP) — Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s founding father, has been hospitalized for severe pneumonia, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Lee, 91, was admitted to Singapore General Hospital on Feb. 5, the office said in a statement Saturday. His condition has stabilized and he remains on mechanical ventilation in intensive care, the statement said.

It said Lee was conscious and lightly sedated, and that doctors were continuing to monitor his condition.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the son of Lee Kuan Yew, said in a Facebook posting that he visited his father on Saturday to wish him a speedy recovery.

“Visited my father in hospital this morning. Did not see him on the first day of the New Year, on the advice of doctors (both his and mine). So we wished him Happy New Year today, and a smooth recovery,” he said, adding it was the first time in a long while that the family had missed reunion dinner for the Chinese New Year.

A founding member of the ruling People’s Action Party, which transformed Singapore from a slow port city to a wealthy, bustling metropolis, Lee became prime minister in 1959 and held power for 31 years.

He continued to work for the government, first as “senior minister,” a non-executive advisory post created for him, and from 2004 until 2011 as “minister mentor.”

The PAP suffered its worst election results in 2011 as it struggled to stem rising discontent over the high cost of living, an influx of foreign laborers and rising income inequality.

Under Lee and his successors, Singapore — known for its ban on chewing gum sales and canings for crimes some countries would rule as minor — has strictly controlled public speech and assembly though has become socially more liberal and allowed greater artistic freedom in recent years.

Lee commands immense respect among Singaporeans, who this year will celebrate the 50th independence anniversary.

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