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Man sets Singapore lawmaker on fire

  • Story Highlights
  • Man in his 70s poured thinner on lawmaker and set him on fire while he had lunch
  • Seng Han Thong of the ruling People's Action Party is in intensive care
  • He suffered burns to his face and chest and underwent skin graft surgery
  • Attacker is a former cab driver who has been in a mental clinic, media says
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(CNN) -- A Singapore lawmaker was in intensive care Monday after a man set him on fire at a community event, a hospital official told CNN.

Seng Han Thong of the ruling People's Action Party underwent skin graft surgery at Singapore General Hospital Monday morning and was in stable condition, said hospital spokeswoman Junaidah Hameed.

Seng suffered burns to his face and chest after a man in his 70s came up behind him as he was sitting down for lunch, poured thinner on him and set him on fire, party official George Tan told reporters.

An event organizer who rushed to Seng's aid and tried to douse the flames was also injured, the hospital said.

Seng had gone to the community center in his parliamentary district to hand out money to residents -- a tradition among many politicians ahead of the Chinese New Year, which falls on January 26 this year.

The attacker was a 70-year-old former cab driver who has been in and out of a mental clinic in recent months, the English-language daily newspaper the Straits Times reported.

Tan, the party official, said the man had met Seng at several meet-and-greets and complained about "evil spirits in his house."

"No matter what the reason is, and whatever condition the person is in, that is no reason to commit such a crime against anyone, not just against an MP [member of parliament]," Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng told reporters at the hospital.

Two years ago, Seng was attacked at another community event by another cab driver, the newspaper said. In that incident, the cab driver punched Seng because he was upset that the lawmaker was not helping him get his revoked license reinstated.

CNN's Saeed Ahmed contributed to this report.

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