Bloomberg News

Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew Says Nerve Disease Hasn’t Affected Mind

November 07, 2011

Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said a nerve disease that causes him to walk with an unsteady gait has not affected his mind, the Straits Times newspaper reported today.

“I have no doubt at all that this has not affected my mind, my will nor my resolve,” the newspaper quoted Lee as telling reporters yesterday. “People in wheelchairs can make a contribution. I’ve still got two legs, I make a contribution.”

Singapore’s 88-year-old founding father has sensory peripheral neuropathy, which impairs feeling in his legs, his daughter Lee Wei Ling wrote in a column in the Sunday Times yesterday. He was 86 when the condition was first noticed, said his daughter, who is the director of the National Neuroscience Institute.

While Lee’s brain and muscles function normally, the lack of feeling in his legs upsets his balance, she wrote.

Lee, whose son Lee Hsien Loong is prime minister, has retreated from politics since the People’s Action Party that he co-founded won May elections with the smallest margin of the popular vote since independence in 1965. He stepped down from his cabinet position of Minister Mentor in May and resigned from the party’s top decision-making body last month.

From 1959 until 1990, Lee served as prime minister, overseeing the island’s independence from Great Britain. During his tenure, Singapore grew from a fishing village to the world’s largest container port as Lee developed a tightly controlled state economy that encouraged foreign investment.

Lee’s daughter also has sensory peripheral neuropathy and underwent training to improve her balance. Her father can’t do as much “strenuous exercises” because of his age, she wrote. He does treadmill exercises and is taking medication, which will help him continue to work, she said.

--Editors: John Brinsley, Nicholas Wadhams

To contact the reporters on this story: Shamim Adam in Singapore at; Kristine Aquino in Singapore at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Klemming at

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