Two solo candidates from the People's Action Party (PAP) came out swinging last night, slamming the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) for proposing policies they said were populist and not in Singapore's interests.
The SDP's proposals for free healthcare, services and education will lead Singapore to spend more than it can afford, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu, who is defending her seat in Yuhua against the SDP's Jaslyn Go.
The SDP's values and policies "point to three words: spend, spend and spend", said Ms Fu at a rally in Jurong East Stadium.
There is a flip side to having free healthcare, food and fuel subsidies, minimum wage and unemployment benefits, said the two-term MP. "What they're not telling you, voters, are these: Other countries (with these policies) have high taxes. Not Singapore. Other countries have oil, gold and timber. Not Singapore."
She added: "Other countries have low growth, even no growth. Not Singapore. Other countries have governments that borrow heavily and have depreciating currencies. Not Singapore."
She also cited high youth unemployment of up to 50 per cent in other countries, strikes that last for weeks and gridlocked parliaments unable to pass laws and function.
On why the SDP was not highlighting these nasty consequences, Ms Fu said: "They are interested in politics only. They want to get into Parliament and they will sacrifice the long-term interests of Singapore, if necessary, to get elected."
"The SDP is using emotions, populist policies and leading Singapore down the slippery road that many other countries are trying to come back up from but cannot," she said, adding that it was a path of no return.
But with the PAP at its helm, Singapore has achieved much in the last 50 years, including clean water, high rates of home ownership, rising salaries and a world-class port.
"Our policies work. They may not be the most popular, but they are the best policies for us.
"They're built on core values like meritocracy, multiracialism, self-reliance and honesty that have served Singapore well," said Ms Fu.
Her colleague David Ong, a candidate for single-seat Bukit Batok, picked up on the theme in his rally speech in his first solo battle.
How Bukit Batok is run and how Singapore is effectively managed boils down to good governance, as demonstrated by the PAP, he said.
The PAP does what is right instead of what is popular, said Mr Ong, whose opponents are the SDP's Sadasivam Veriyah and Mr Samir Salim Neji, an independent.
"Populist government becomes a game of always promising low taxes and big government entitlements, with the resulting deficits kicked down the road for the next generation to bear," said Mr Ong.
"Good governance is very much about being an effective government. A government that gets things done for its people and serves the interests of its people, and not the party," he added.
Mr Ong gave a progress report of his efforts over the past four years in Bukit Batok, the ward of Jurong GRC he helmed as a first-term MP.
Covered linkways have been built and flats upgraded, with a hawker centre, an eldercare centre and two early childhood education centres on the way, he said to cheers.
More than 9,000 students have benefited from education bursaries and free tuition programmes, and more than 1,000 needy senior residents receive financial and social assistance each year, he added.
Ms Fu said: "What you want is an effective MP but, more importantly, an MP who... can run an effective town council, who cares about you and your family, your well-being and future, and who will not just use you to get into Parliament."