This term being repeatedly used as a trump card by the incumbent party's members further cements the fact that they are truly missing the point.
So, what is the point exactly?
The PAP does indeed have a track record - a cleaned up Singapore River, HDB flats, tuberculosis control, making spitting in public illegal, transitioning Singapore's economy from primary to tertiary industries, et cetera. Note that these examples really are, firstly, true - just pick up any history book - secondly, they are facts in history, that is, the past.
If the PAP continues to advocate that its track record in the past is the basis for our future, it is nakedly acknowledging that Singapore as a society has not evolved as a civilisation since the time of our independence from the British. Which is saying that Singapore has not truly developed, a huge political leadership failure! The implication of what they have been touting, is that as long as we have our basic needs met, we are satisfied, and should be, (or else). That may be true for the poorest of the poor: food to eat, shelter and safety, these are the basic needs of any human being, cf. Abraham Maslow. Before you can talk about intrinsic needs of a human being such as self-esteem, we really do need shelter, be it HDB flats or the what-have-you sheltered walkways.
But harping on and on about having provided the basics as their track record only reflects how archaic and uncivilised the minds of the PAPies are. I refer you to Emile Durkheim, The Division of Labour in Society, 1893 (emphases mine) -
This does not mean that civilization has no use, but that it is not the services that it renders that make it progress. It develops because it cannot fail to develop. Once effectuated, this development is found to be generally useful, or, at least, it is utilized. It responds to needs formed at the same time because they depend upon the same causes. But this is an adjustment after the fact. Yet, we must notice that the good it renders in this direction is not a positive enrichment, a growth in our stock of happiness, but only repairs the losses that it has itself caused. It is because this superactivity of general life fatigues and weakens our nervous system that it needs reparations proportionate to its expenditures, that is to say, more varied and complex satisfactions. In that, we see even better how false it is to make civilization the function of the division of labor; it is only a consequence of it. It can explain neither the existence nor the progress of the division of labor, since it has, of itself, no intrinsic or absolute value, but, on the contrary, has a reason for existing only in so far as the division of labor is itself found necessary.
In layman's terms, "Who cares about upgrading?!" is the very essence of this sociological thought, and this extract alone should be read in accompaniment with the rest of Durkheim's writings to gain a full picture of what I am about to say. We have evolved as a society, which means that now what we need apart from food and shelter, and 'upgrading', are 'complex satisfactions': Political freedom, not a mock sense of democracy. Solidarity - a feeling of kinship and community. I could go on, but let's just stick to these two examples.
You have probably heard enough from opposition party members about how the PAP wayangs and kelongs through the GRC system and suchlike. I shan't elaborate more, but I will refer you to an extract from NSP's Ken Sun's book, "Concerns for Political Balance" which quotes Dr Lawrence Britt in his article, "Fascism Anyone". According to Sun's book, Britt listed several critical features of Fascism:
... Disdain for human rights: people are persuaded that it is all right to ignore certain human rights such as imprisonment without trial, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc... Cronyism and corruption: important state institutions are often governed by friends, relatives and associates who appoint or support one another, without much accountability and transparency. Unfair elections: common use of threats, and legislation to control or influence the voters. Other tactics include boundary gerrymandering, smear campaigns, character assassinations, hounding of opposition candidates, media manipulation and lawsuits.
I think you can make your own conclusions as to how fascist, or democratic, Singapore's political regime is from what Sun has written. (I would advise that you research on the history of Fascism on your own too; triangulate your research from multiple sources.)
What I do want to pitch in on is the need for Singaporeans to feel a sense of connectedness to one another. As Durkheim has expounded also in his sociological theory, population growth that is too rapid leads a society towards a disintegration of its persona, essentially degrading the solidarity of its people. As I have written before, nobody is propagating a supremacist regime of completely disallowing population growth through foreign immigration to our country. But the toll it takes on the social structure of our nation is apparent, valid, and relevant. When the PAP fails to address this issue, it fails to fulfill the human need to feel a sense of belonging. Yes, I am referencing Maslow again, because really, who hasn't read his theory of the hierarchy of needs? Yet the PAP seems stuck on merely wanting to fulfill the lowest rungs of this hierarchy of needs and banging on about its track record of already doing so. It really makes me wonder how well-read my majority representatives of state truly are, if they do not even exhibit basic academic knowledge of psychology, sociology and management schools of thought.
I am no academic, I only got a third class honours grade, and I had to dig up Durkheim to read again because I only scraped through first year sociology. But if I can write this, and the PAP can't even make one layman reference to the more intrinsic needs of Singapore as a civilisation, then really, the party has missed the point so greatly that there may never be any way back.