SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has dismissed the Workers' Party's (WP) argument that a strong opposition provides insurance against the ruling party's failure.
"Insurance is good but you must buy the right insurance from the right company," he said at the People's Action Party's (PAP) lunchtime rally at the promenade of UOB Plaza on Tuesday (Sept 8).
At a WP rally on Sunday, party chairman Sylvia Lim said that to protect against future PAP leaders being corrupt, Singaporeans must "buy an insurance policy - build up another party who can take over if the PAP fails".
At the rally, Mr Lee quipped that buying insurance from NTUC Income was okay, and that Medishield Life comes with the Singapore Government's backing.
But if your insurance company is an opposition party, it might have no track record, not know "how to handle money" - a dig at the WP's Town Council finances - or be sold by a salesman who is "not interested in you, only wants his commission".
Mr Lee also rubbished another argument: that the Government has done a good job only because voters voted for the opposition and hence, more votes for the opposition will make the Government work harder.
Calling this argument "perverse" and "upside down", he said it would lead to an opposition which is strengthened but incapable.
Noting that the argument has been circulating on WhatsApp, he proposed a different message, telling the crowd: "Send it to your friends on WhatsApp."
His message: "The Opposition are not working hard enough, they make a mess of things, they are not active enough in Parliament, they are really talking not much sense. Vote PAP, make the Opposition work harder."
Mr Lee also criticised proposals from opposition parties, such as free healthcare and a minimum wage.
Opposition parties intend to fund them via higher taxes or tapping the reserves, he noted. "If it was really so simple, why do you think the PAP is not doing all these things?"
Such policies would have made the party more popular. "But would we have built this Singapore?
"Would we be standing here, surrounded by these buildings, this prosperity, this success?" Mr Lee asked, in the midst of the Central Business District's skyscrapers.
He also stressed the importance of clean politics, recounting an anecdote about founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's 90th birthday celebration in Parliament. After the cake and candles, the older Mr Lee made a speech about one thing: keeping the system clean.
Noting that the opposition MPs were at the same celebration, PM Lee said he hoped they also took note of what the late Mr Lee said.
He also got in a dig at the Singapore Democratic Party's (SDP) Chee Soon Juan, saying he was very surprised when Dr Chee said "Reputation is temporary but character is permanent" at the SDP's lunchtime rally on Monday.
"I agree. I think Dr Chee has every reason to know that character is permanent. Doesn't change," he said.
PAP politicians such as Ms Sim Ann and Mr Lawrence Wong have cast doubt on Dr Chee's character, bringing up his ousting of Mr Chiam See Tong from the SDP in 1983 and his lying to a parliamentary select committee in 1996.