SINGAPORE - Vote for the right people who can get policies right and put the country on the right path, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Tuesday (Sept 8).
Speaking during a lunchtime rally in the city, PM Lee reiterated that his People's Action Party (PAP) would be able to take Singapore forward in the right direction for a long time to come.
Singapore can do even better, he said, adding that if the wrong people are put in charge, it is very hard for the country "to come back again".
"Vote for what you believe in. Vote for the candidate you trust. Vote for the party that has never let you down," he said.
Touching on leadership renewal, PM Lee said he had brought in new faces during the last election to build a nucleus of a new team, but that his team needs more substance.
"I need more, you need more, Singapore needs more," he said.
He also took aim at opposition parties. He started with Singapore Democratic Party chief Chee Soon Juan, who had spoken at a lunchtime rally the day before.
Dr Chee said then: "PAP sues us for defamation. I say, reputation is temporary. Character is permanent."
PM Lee said he was surprised to hear Dr Chee say that.
"I agree, Dr Chee has every reason to know character is permanent," he said.
He hit back at Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim's call to vote for the WP as an "insurance policy".
"Insurance is good, but you want to buy insurance from the right company," he said.
At opposition rallies, parties have been calling for measures like a minimum wage as well as payouts to the elderly and children, PM Lee noted.
It is easy to "take care of people today", he said, adding however that sacrifice and planning are needed to take care of future generations.
"Only the PAP does that," he said.
He also listed improvements his government has made. He said the government's policies have helped Singaporean workers, citing how it has tightened employment passes and introduced SkillsFuture.
He also listed other improvements made, including an increased housing grant, an improved baby bonus and more maternity plus paternity leave.
He also brought up national security, citing the threat of terrorism posed by extremist groups such as Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). He cited the recent Bangkok bomb blast, which killed 20, including a Singaporean, and injured dozens more.
While it may not be possible to stop all attacks, "we will do our damndest", he said.
Before Mr Lee took the stage, new PAP candidates spoke about how a vote for the PAP would be a vote for Singapore's continued success and prosperity.
Thousands packed the promenade next to UOB Plaza for the rally.
PAP new face Darryl David, who has been fielded in Ang Mo Kio GRC, kicked off the proceedings, followed by Ms Cheryl Chan, who is contesting Fengshan SMC.
Mr Ong Ye Kung, touted as a potential fourth-generation leader and contesting Sembawang GRC, took the stage next and spoke about how the PAP's thinking is based on sound principles, even if its initiatives are not always popular.
His late father, who was a Barisan Socialis member, will understand, he said.
On the opposition parties' logic that a certain number of opposition in Parliament is needed as a check, he provided an alternative logic - that a weaker government can be compelled to become populist, and will not be able to effectively introduce needed policies.
There is a need to balance between "continuity and change", and the Government is listening more and more to people, he said.
Aljunied GRC candidate Victor Lye was up next, followed by Mr Amrin Amin (Sembawang GRC), Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC) and former permanent secretary Chee Hong Tat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC).
Mr Chee said he wanted to provide SMEs with more help, even those overseas. He also slammed the opposition, saying they only came out with offers of help during election season.
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat and Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say spoke next, followed by PM Lee.