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The Constitution of Singapore

A Contextual Analysis

By: Kevin YL Tan
Media of The Constitution of Singapore
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Published: 30-04-2015
Format: PDF eBook (?)
Edition: 1st
Extent: 276
ISBN: 9781782258094
Imprint: Hart Publishing
Series: Constitutional Systems of the World
RRP: £20.69
Online price : £16.55
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About The Constitution of Singapore

Singapore's Constitution was hastily cobbled together after her secession from the Federation of Malaysia in 1965. In the subsequent 50 years, the Constitution has been amended many times to evolve a Constitution like no other in the world. Outwardly, Singapore has a Westminster-type constitutional democracy, with an elected legislature, fundamental liberties and safeguards to ensure the independence of the judiciary. On closer inspection, the Constitution displays many innovative and unusual characteristics. Most notable among them are the various types of Members of Parliament that have been introduced since the mid-1980s, the office of the Elected President and the fact that there is no constitutional right to property. This volume seeks to explain the nature and context of these constitutional innovations in the context of a pluralistic, multi-ethnic state obsessed with public order and security. The volatile racial mix of Singapore, with its majority Chinese population nestled in a largely Malay/Islamic world, compels the state to search for ethnic management solutions through the Constitution to guarantee to the Malays and other ethnic minorities their status in the polity. In addition, it examines how the concept of the rule of law is perceived by the strong centrist state governed by a political party that has been in power since 1959 and continues to hold almost hegemonic power.

Table Of Contents

I. General
II. Towards Independence and Three Imperatives
A. Economic Growth
B. Managing Ethnicity
C. Political Dominance
III. Organisation of this Book
I. Introduction
II. The Straits Settlements Period (1819–1942)
A. The Founding of Modern Singapore
B. Early Administration of the Straits Settlements
C. Becoming a Colony Proper
III. The Japanese Occupation (1942–45)
IV. The Colony of Singapore (1946–58)
V. The Rendel Constitution
VI. Constitutional Talks and Self-government (1956–58)
VII. Merger and Separation (1963–65)
A. The 'Battle for Merger'
B. The Rift between Singapore and the Federation
C. The 1964 Racial Riots
VIII. Post-1965 Developments
A. The Aftermath of Independence
B. The Wee Cong Jin Commission
C. Changes to the Judiciary
D. Entrenching Singapore's Sovereignty
E. Changes to the Parliamentary System
F. The Elected President
G. Amendment to Citizenship Laws
IX. Conclusion
I. Introduction
II. The Constitution as Supreme Law
A. The Amendment Regime
B. Can the Constitution be Impliedly Amended?
C. The Basic Features Doctrine
III. Separation of Powers
IV. Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law
V. Constitutional Culture
I. A Brief Historical Outline
II. Parliament and the Problem of Representation
A. Ethnic Representation
B. The Group Representation Constituency
and Town Councils
III. The Revival of Local Government?
A. Town Councils as Local Government
B. The Community Development Councils (CDCs)
C. GRCs as 'Fixed Deposit' Seats
IV. Qualifications of Members
V. Duties of Members
VI. Parliamentary Privilege
A. Life of Parliament and Vacancies
VII. Principal Officers of Parliament
A. The Speaker
B. The Clerk of Parliament
C. The Whip
D. Leader of the House
VIII. Parliament's Committees
A. Committee of the Whole House
B. Select Committees
C. Sessional Committees
D. Government Parliamentary Committees (GPCs)
IX. The Conduct of Elections
A. Nomination Day
B. Campaigning
C. Polling Day
D. Political Donations
X. Concluding Thoughts
I. Introduction
II. Rule Formulation
III. Introduction of Bills in Parliament
A. Government Bills
B. Private Members' Bills
IV. The Legislative Process
A. The First Reading
B. The Second Reading
C. The Committee Stage
D. The Third Reading
V. The Presidential Council for Minority Rights and Presidential Assent
A. Role of the Elected President
VI. Executive Law-making
A. Subsidiary Legislation
B. Other Forms of Executive Rule-making
VII. Legislative Powers in an Emergency
I. Introduction
II. Singapore's Prime Minister
III. The Cabinet and its Ministers
IV. Unique Features of Singapore's Cabinet
V. Ministerial Salaries
VI. Code of Conduct for Ministers
VII. Policy Formulation, Decision-making and Collective Responsibility
VIII. The Attorney-General
IX. The Executive: An Elected Dictatorship?
I. Introduction
II. Singapore's Presidential Executive:
A Short History
III. The President's Traditional Discretionary Powers
A. Appointment and Dismissal of the Prime Minister
B. Proroguing and Dissolving Parliament
C. Discretion during an Emergency
D. Justiciability of the President's Discretion
IV. The Elected President
A. The Rationale and the Initial Proposals
B. The Second White Paper
V. The Elected President Scheme in 1991
A. Presidential Elections
B. Term of Office, Powers and Immunities
C. Removal of the President
D. Entrenchment of Office
E. Constitutional Reference No 1 of 1995
VI. Post-1991 Changes
A. President to State Reasons for Spending Reserves
B. Transfer of Surpluses
C. Advisory Capacity of the Supreme Court
D. Reduction of Veto Powers
VII. 'Loans' under Article 144(1)
VIII. The President Exercises his Discretion
IX. Some Unique Aspects of the Presidency
I. Introduction
II. Judicial Power: Meaning, Nature, Content and Scope
III. Constitution of Singapore's Judiciary
A. The Court of Appeal
B. The High Court
C. Special Constitutional Tribunal
D. The State Courts
E. The Syariah Court
IV. Judicial Independence
A. Appointment and Tenure of Judges
B. Security of Remuneration
C. Shortage of Judges: Judicial Commissioners and Supernumerary Judges
D. Judicial Independence and the Power to Punish for Contempt
V. Jurisdiction of the Courts
A. Original and Appellate Jurisdiction
B. Inherent Jurisdiction
C. Supervisory Jurisdiction
D. Revision Jurisdiction
VI. Establishing Jurisdiction and Locus Standi
VII. Judicial Control of Administrative Action
A. Precedent or Jurisdictional Facts
B. Errors of Law
C. The Control of Substantive Direction
D. The Grounds of Judicial Review
VIII. Limits on Judicial Review
A. Political Questions
B. Legislative Prohibition: Outer Clauses
C. Laches
D. Judgments of Superior Courts
E. Res Judicata
IX. Public Law Remedies
X. Doctrine of Prospective Overruling
XI. Conclusion
I. Introduction
II. The Rendel Constitution
III. The Reid Commission in Malaya
IV. Entrenching Rights in Post-Independence Singapore
A. A Patchwork Constitution
V. The Right to Property in Singapore
A. The Land Acquisition Problem
B. Constitutional Difficulties
C. The Land Acquisition Act 1966
VI. Preventive Detention
A. Background to Executive Detention in Singapore
B. The Wee Chong Jin Commission
VII. Fundamental Liberties under Singapore's Constitution
VIII. Interpreting Fundamental Liberties
A. Westminster Constitutions
B. The Interpretation of Rights in Light of International Legal Instruments
C. The 'Four Walls' Doctrine and Beyond
D. Balancing of Rights: Between State and Individual
I. Three Leitmotifs
II. Regime Dominance
A. Power and Governance
B. Consolidating Party and State
C. Regime Hegemony
III. Economic Growth and Development
A. Striving for Economic Legitimacy
B. The Prevailing Economic Milieu
C. The Power to Succeed
D. Constitutional and Legal Regime of Public Enterprises
E. Economic Development and State Power
F. Disciplining Labour
IV. Management of Ethnicity and Religious Diversity
A. Strategies
B. The Wee Chong Jin Commission's Recommendations
C. Malay Interests
D. Group Representation Constituencies
V. Conclusion


“I thoroughly recommend this work to all those who would like to understand not only the Constitution itself, but the reasons behind its structure and the laws it supports. It is ideal for foreigner and local alike.” –  Cameron Ford, Singapore Legal Gazette

“...the text gives the reader an excellent starting point to contextualize their understanding of constitutional law in Singapore.” –  Jaclyn L Neo, ICONnect Blog

“Hence, amongst the wealth of literature that has already been written on the subject, Tan's The Constitution of Singapore manages to not only provide a novel introduction and a valuable overview but also point the way for readers – new and old – looking for ways to better understand the role of constitutionalism in the country.” –  Benjamin Lawrence, Australian Journal of Asian Law

“Kevin Tan's The Constitution of Singapore: A Contextual Analysis gives a clear and easily digestible introduction to Singapore's constitutional system. It is highly recommended to anyone who wants a very readable and informative introduction to Singapore's constitutional system.” –  Singapore Journal of Legal Studies

“The book provides a clear and accessible introduction to the different constitutional system of various states. For those looking for such an introduction, they will find no better text.” –  Michael Dowdle, Singapore Journal of Legal Studies

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