Singapore: Facing the stiffest political challenge of his career, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday cautioned voters against electing wrong people in the upcoming general elections as it would hurt the country.
Addressing a lunch-time rally in the Central Business District, Lee said his People's Action Party (PAP) would be able to take Singapore forward in the right direction "for a long time to come."
Singaporeans will vote Friday to elect the next government from the 2015 General Election.
The PAP, which has ruled Singapore for the past 50 years, has been challenged for the first time in decades by eight Opposition parties on all the 89 parliamentary seats.
Foreign workers, new immigrants, transportation and high cost of housing and living are major issues being debated at rallies by Opposition parties, while PAP candidates have been explaining the future prospect based on their good governance.
But frustrations over the issues have eroded PAP's popularity. The party, which was led by Singapore's founding leader Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March, established itself through an enviable track record after coming to power in 1965 when Singapore became independent.
"Singapore can do even better," said Lee. But if the wrong people are put in charge, it is very hard for the country "to come back again," he added.
"Vote for what you believe in. Vote for the candidate you trust. Vote for the party that has never let you down," Lee was quoted as saying in The Straits Times.
Touching on leadership renewal, the 63-year-old Premier said he brought in new faces during the 2011 election to build the nucleus of a new team, but his team needs more substance.
"I need more, you need more, Singapore needs more," he said, appealing the voters to re-elect his party.
Lee listed improvements his government made and highlighted policies that helped Singaporean workers. He cited the tightening of employment passes for foreign workers by his government and introduction of SkillsFuture, a scheme that supports employment of Singaporeans.
A white paper on population of 6.9 million by 2030 is being challenged by Opposition as over crowding of the island state. But Lee's party has been sharing its concerns over stagnation, ageing and shrinking population and its impact on the future economic growths.
Lee also brought up national security issues, explaining terror threats posed by extremist groups like Islamic State. To make his point, he cited the recent Bangkok blast in which 20 people including a Singaporean died, and many were injured.
He said Singapore is concerned over political and economic stability in South East Asia as it would impact the country too.