Mr Lee’s condition worsens; police report made about hoax website

Mr Lee’s condition worsens; police report made about hoax website
Reuters file photo
Published: 11:15 PM, March 18, 2015
Updated: 12:19 AM, March 19, 2015

SINGAPORE — Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew’s health has deteriorated further, and he remains critically ill in the intensive care unit (ICU) of Singapore General Hospital, said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) today (March 18).

The statement, issued around 1.20pm, came a day after the PMO said his condition had taken a turn for the worse because of an infection. By evening, the lobby of the SGH block where Mr Lee is being warded had filled with well-wishers and reporters from Singapore and international media.

The news also sparked off a wave of misinformation. A screenshot of a webpage doctored to look like the PMO website falsely pronouncing Mr Lee’s death went viral, prompting the PMO to lodge a police report. Around 10pm, broadcaster CNN erroneously tweeted via its CNN Breaking News account that Mr Lee had died, citing a “government website”. Screenshots of Chinese broadcaster CCTV wrongly reporting his death also circulated over the Internet. Checks by TODAY with the PMO confirmed that they had not issued any new information since its update earlier in the day.

Later, in a report on its international website, CNN said “questions have been raised” about the authenticity of the screenshot. Finally, at 11pm, it tweeted: “Singapore says Lee Kuan Yew is alive, dismisses death report as hoax.”

Mr Lee, 91, has been warded at SGH since Feb 5 after coming down with severe pneumonia, where he was placed on mechanical ventilation to help him breathe.

Among those at SGH awaiting news of Mr Lee’s condition last night was homemaker Julie Minhat, 50, and her sisters. They were visiting a relative at SGH and decided to stay as a show of support to Mr Lee and his family. “He has done a lot for the country, we just wanted to show our support and be with him,” said Ms Minhat, who waited from 8pm to about 10.45pm.

Teacher Herman Loh, bank analyst Jason Gan and engineering student Anthony Tan, all 25, were having dinner together at Novena when they saw updates on social media on Mr Lee’s condition, and decided to visit the hospital.

“We’re just here to see what’s going on and stay hopeful,” said Mr Loh, adding that the hoaxes that were circulating were “very inappropriate”.

Added Mr Gan: “Everyone should show him some respect.”