Tanjong Pagar residents were "brave trendsetters" when they voted for founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, and they should do it again by voting for Singaporeans First (SingFirst), said party chief Tan Jee Say.
Speaking at the first opposition rally held at Tanjong Pagar since the group representation constituency was created in 1991, he urged residents to vote in his team to form the "nucleus of the next government".
He said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had betrayed Mr Lee Kuan Yew's ideals.
He said the elder Mr Lee had warned against having too many foreign workers in 1979, yet Singapore now has more than 1.5 million foreign workers - and that "one million such foreign workers came in in the last 10 years under Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong".
The SingFirst team - comprising Mr Tan, 61; Dr Ang Yong Guan, 60; Mr Chirag Desai, 38; Mr Melvyn Chiu, 36; and Mr Fahmi Rais, 48 - is competing against the People's Action Party team led by labour chief Chan Chun Sing.
Several SingFirst candidates who spoke last night criticised the PAP's immigration policies, saying the influx of foreigners crowded the transport system and took jobs from Singaporeans.
But they insisted that they were neither xenophobic nor anti-foreigner.
"We do understand the importance of foreign talent to our economy," said Mr Chiu. While work permit holders do jobs that Singaporeans do not want and those at the top can lead industries, he was worried about professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) who face competition from foreigners who accept lower pay and some who have fake degrees too.
On other issues, the speakers wanted low-income citizens to qualify automatically for social assistance as long as they receive Workfare Income Supplements, without making them "jump through bureaucratic hoops".
They also wanted national referendums held for projects that cost more than $50 million.
The party repeated its call to give the elderly a stipend of $300 a month. Mr Chan Chun Sing from the People's Action Party had called the idea a way of bribing Singaporeans, but Mr Tan responded that the SG50 goodies handed out to mark Singapore's Golden Jubilee were also bribes.
Dr Ang said: "In August this year, the Government gave $300 cash vouchers to 1.3 million Singaporeans. By Mr Chan's definition, isn't the PAP bribing citizens as well?"