Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore's next General Election (GE) will be about who forms the government to implement policies to take the country forward.
"The next GE is going to be a deadly serious fight," Mr Lee told 6,000 members of the ruling People's Action Party (PAP) yesterday at its 60th anniversary rally at the Singapore Expo.
"It will be about whether we continue to have a First World Government, not about the so-called First World Parliament," he said, alluding to the Workers' Party's (WP's) GE 2011 slogan.
"Every seat, every contest will be a national one, not a local one," he said in a rousing hour- long speech in Malay, Mandarin and English. What will be at stake in every constituency will be who gets to form the government, rather than the by-election effect often used by the opposition to secure more seats, he argued.
The next election must be held by January 2017, and Mr Lee said it would be about choosing a "clear vision" and "capable leadership" for the nation. "It is not just about expressing approval or disapproval, it is not just about winning a seat in Parliament, it is not a by-election," he said.
The party, he said, would fight to win every seat - and this included WP-held Aljunied GRC, Hougang and Punggol East.
Going on the offensive against opposition parties, Mr Lee accused them of offering no vision for Singapore, even as he outlined the PAP's updated objectives for an inclusive and fair nation with citizens who are hard-working and actively engaged.
These goals, adopted as a resolution during the party's convention last year, were crystallised in the party's Constitution yesterday. It was the first amendment to the Constitution in 32 years.
The change cements the PAP's shift in governance over the past decade towards more communication with the public and stronger social support, said Mr Lee, the party's secretary-general.
Noting that the PAP is the only party offering a national vision, he said: "Only the PAP is solving problems, planning for the future. Only the PAP is putting forth a vision, a road map for Singapore."
Meanwhile, he urged PAP activists to stand up for their ideas, even if they are criticised. Telling them to have courage, he quipped: "If I get flamed, so what; I have the thickest skin in town."
Institute of Policy Studies senior research fellow Gillian Koh noted that the WP had fought on a platform of being the PAP's check and balance in the last GE.
"The challenge seems to be whether it can do the local part well," she added, referring to recent hitches in the WP's management of its town council.
The PAP also held elections for its central executive committee yesterday, for what is likely to be the last time before the GE.
Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin made it into the committee's top 12, replacing Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen. Dr Ng was co-opted into the committee with Speaker Halimah Yacob, as the two nominees with the next highest number of votes.
For the next GE, the PAP has identified "many promising candidates", including potential office-holders, Mr Lee said, adding that his successor is likely to be in the "renewed, strengthened and more seasoned" team that will be in place after the next polls.
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