Last night, the news spread like wildfire that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had “collapsed on stage” while giving the National Day Speech to a live TV audience.
Some said he had fainted, while some reported a “thud was heard” before a gasping audience. Some presumed Lee had a “stroke” and many reported that Lee had been “taken ill” mid way through the speech.
The video of what happened went viral immediately on all the social media platforms, with it being shared the most on whatsapp and twitter. While almost everyone was worried for Lee, many started to “predict” what may have happened.
Some said he “fell down with a thud”, while others went into overdrive of their imaginations.
BBC reported that Lee “faints at rally”.
One even reported it was the late Lee Kuan Yew as the one who had been taken ill, much to the chagrin of Singaporean public.
However, an hour later, Lee had returned to the stage to finish his speech and he was upright, with no one standing holding him up. It was him alright and not his clone.
He even joked he never had that many doctors look at him at one time. He even stressed the importance of succession, after what had just happened.
The thing is, the video that went viral of him “being taken ill” only shows us Lee stopping midway through his speech, sweating, with a look of surprise and him clutching the rostrum, as the mic stand wavered.
Then, the camera pans onto the audience, mostly college students, who were seated, who gasped, but still remain seated and no one really stood up. There was no panic nor helter skelter as we hear a slight thud in the bakground, but it was not a man-falling thud.
We do not see Lee falling, we do not hear panic in the background.
If at all, it was the most calmest of audiences one would ever see when the head of the state supposedly “collapsed” on stage while delivering a speech to a live audience.
Either the Singaporeans were all well-trained in handling panic, or the audience have been warned beforehand not to move from their seats no matter what happened. Or, they just did not have much emotions to seeing the top leader of their country faltering or falling on stage. Also, were their smart gadgets retained beforehand, as no clips have come out showing what happened on stage then had come online, very unlike Singaporeans who literally breathe with their smart gadgets.
However, should Lee have “fainted” or “collapsed” in the most dramatic manners as reported by social media and mass media, he may have not been able to return to the stage after an hour to complete the speech and stand upright another 16 minutes, which he did.
Many reports later said he was “helped off-stage” and attended to by doctors, and no one mentioned stretchers etc.
We would not be able to see for now what has really happened, but it was most likely, he was helped before he swooned due to dehydration and the heat.
It could have happened to any healthy 64-year old man for Lee had been speaking on and off for more than two hours in multiple languages when he abruptly stopped.
Lee is not a young man, but much younger than his father who only stepped down from active politics in his 80s.
Hsien Loong however did have quite a hectic week in the recent months, with overseas visits including one to the White House and he is also a prostate cancer survivor.
Although many will comment that Lee should have rested more, one must realise that politics is much of a show, and even when you are sick, you have to appear healthy.
Even when you are tired, you must appear happy and no matter what mood you are in, you must be in the right spirits.
And what more, when you are the PM of Singapore, the only First World-like country the Third World, where even the slightest inkling that the PM is not well may affect the stock markets.
In this time of age, where social media rules, being a politician and heading a state is definitely a Herculean task indeed, definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Yet, if one is the head of a state, he or she should feel slightly disturbed that the audience of youths did not seem to panic seeing their leader falter on stage.