SINGAPORE -Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong appealed to voters across the island - not just in his constituency of Ang Mo Kio GRC - for their support during the People's Action Party's (PAP) lunchtime rally in the city on Tuesday (Sept 8).
PAP candidates standing everywhere are standing on behalf of the party, he said. By voting for them, "you are voting for me, you are voting for my team, you are voting for my programme", he said, to cheers from the crowd.
Speaking for a full hour of the two-hour rally, after eight new candidates and office-holders, Mr Lee said he called the general election "to seek a new mandate at this key turning point in our history", to take Singapore forward beyond its first 50 years.
He gave an overview of what the PAP government has done over its last term to improve lives, from helping the elderly with medical costs via moves like the Pioneer Generation Package, to helping young families own their own homes, and providing new pathways and opportunities for the youngest generation.
But Singapore also faces threats such as international terrorism and the situation in neighbouring countries. The current exchange rate of three Malaysian ringgit to the Singapore dollar might be good for Singaporeans crossing the Causeway, but an international "loss of confidence in our neighbour" would be bad for Singapore too, he noted.
So to go forward, Singapore needs a good government and good leaders who are clean and honest, he said. "We cannot have corruption in Singapore." Whether in government ministries, statutory boards or town councils, people must "uphold high standards, keep it clean".
Mr Lee slammed opposition parties' policy proposals for being short-sighted: "You cannot write cheques for your children to pay." If the PAP government had taken the opposition's suggested approach of raising taxes or tapping the reserves, it would have been more popular, said Mr Lee.
"But would we have built this Singapore, these buildings, this prosperity?" he asked, amid the skyscrapers of the Central Business District.
He also rubbished the opposition's "formula" of telling voters that the Government has done a good job because they voted for the opposition, and hence that they should vote for the opposition so the Government will work harder.
Calling it "perverse" and "upside-down", Mr Lee said that line of argument would result in "an opposition which is strengthened but incapable", which relies on the PAP government to "produce miracles".
The message that Mr Lee hoped to spread, instead, was that the opposition is not working hard enough, "making a mess of things" and not being active enough in Parliament. "Vote PAP to make the opposition work harder," he quipped.
Invoking the spirit of the late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, whose lunchtime rally speeches at Fullerton Square were legendary, PM Lee echoed his words: "This is not a game of cards! This is your life and mine!"
As long as the PAP is in charge, no one will knock down what Singapore has built, he said.
"So if you believe in me and my team, if you believe that together we can make tomorrow better than today, please support me and my PAP team."