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Vote for the party that will never let you down: PM Lee

He urges voters to trust in the PAP and reiterates the need to strengthen the core of younger ministers, who will take over in leading Singapore
Wednesday, September 9, 2015 - 05:50
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Prime Minister Lee described the opposition parties' call to people to vote against the government to make it work harder as perverse; "you end up with an outcome you don't want - an opposition which is strengthened but incapable".

Singapore

ON the penultimate day of campaigning, the commander-in-chief of Singapore's ruling political party sought to convince 2.46 million voters that a vote for the People's Action Party (PAP) was the best way to secure the country's future.

Speaking for 55 minutes in stifling weather outside UOB Plaza in Raffles Place, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he needed the support of all Singaporeans - not just those voting in his Ang Mo Kio constituency - in order for the government to do its job effectively.

The PAP is fielding candidates for all 89 available seats in Friday's general election (GE), and he reiterated the urgent need to have the "right team" of leaders in place to work with him and with the people.

At the party's first and only lunchtime rally on Tuesday, the PAP secretary-general presented the government's report card for the last 50 years and spoke of how the PAP had worked hard to improve the lives of people in all segments of society.

He recapped some of the many achievements of the PAP government over the last term and the years before that, be it rolling out the Pioneer Generation Package for seniors, providing affordable housing for young couples, or raising workers' wages.

"The results speak for themselves," he said. "This is what the PAP would like to do with you, if you give us the chance."

The last of 10 speakers at the two-hour rally, he took issue with the rhetoric from the opposition parties, describing their argument - that people should vote against the government so that it would work harder - as "perverse".

"It's upside-down. You confuse yourself. You mess things up, you weaken your team and you end up with an outcome you don't want - an opposition which is strengthened but incapable," he said.

In reality, the argument should be the other way round. He said that the opposition was not working hard enough because they "make a mess of things, they're not active enough in parliament and they're really not talking much sense".

To a loud roar from the several thousand people gathered in front of him at the open-air promenade, the prime minister said: "Vote PAP to make the opposition work harder."

He criticised the recent comments by Png Eng Huat, the Workers' Party's (WP) incumbent candidate in Hougang, who said the civil service would continue to run the country, whether or not there was a government in place.

"If that is the WP's measure of good politics and success, and if ever the WP becomes the government of Singapore, I say liao (Hokkien for finished)," he said.

He devoted a large chunk of his speech to the importance of Singapore getting its politics right as the key to staying united and overcoming challenges.

The politics here must always remain clean, and voters must be able to tell the difference between the politicians who are honest and those who are not.

It is not possible for politicians to write cheques that the next generation will have to pay for - something which Mr Lee noted was always a temptation in an election, not just in Singapore, but elsewhere as well.

The PAP could have implemented popular solutions that some of the opposition parties have proposed, such as free health care and a minimum wage system. He said that doing so might well have made the PAP more popular, but asked whether Singapore could have been as successful as it is today.

"Would we have built this Singapore? Would we be standing here, surrounded by these buildings, this prosperity, this success?" he said, gesturing to the Central Business District skyline behind him. "Would we have that toughness to continue to fight as Singaporeans, for our future and our children's future?"

For the Singapore system to continue functioning, he again stressed the need for good leadership. The current core team is ageing and he wants to reinforce the nucleus of the younger team of ministers.

He listed the likes of former defence chief Ng Chee Meng, Keppel Corporation director Ong Ye Kung and former Second Permanent Secretary Chee Hong Tat as among the PAP's new candidates with the potential to add to the leadership ranks and serve Singapore well.

Mr Lee also spent time talking about his own 31-year journey in politics, saying that he had answered the call to serve because he was convinced that he had the ability to make a difference.

"I feel a duty to improve life for Singaporeans, to make this a safe, secure, successful Singapore, to help Singaporeans improve their lives year by year and enable our children to have better futures and brighter opportunities," he said.

"We are not the bosses of Singapore. We are not the commanders or the owners of Singapore. We are the trustees and the stewards."

The prime minister paid tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew's influence a number of times in his speech, and reminded the crowd of what the late Mr Lee had said at a Fullerton Square rally 35 years ago: "Whoever governs Singapore must have that iron in him, or give it up! This is not a game of cards! This is your life and mine! I spent a whole lifetime building this, and as long as I am in charge, nobody will knock it down."

PM Lee added: "Mr Lee is gone, but that spirit must continue in Singapore. That iron must be inside our hearts. And as long as the PAP is in charge, nobody should be knocking this down."

Before wrapping up, he asked voters to place their trust in the PAP and to give his team a new mandate to take the country into its next 50 years and beyond.

"Vote for what you believe in, vote for the candidate you trust, vote for the party which has never let you down. We will work and fight for Singapore."

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