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Politics of Singapore

According to the constitution, as amended in 1965, Singapore is a republic with a parliamentary system of government. Political authority rests with the prime minister and the cabinet. The prime minister is the leader of the political party or coalition of parties having the majority of seats in parliament. The president, who is chief of state, previously exercised only ceremonial duties. As a result of 1991 constitutional changes, the president is now elected and exercises expanded powers over legislative appointments, government budgetary affairs, and internal security matters.

The unicameral parliament currently consists of 83 members elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage, and nine Nominated members (NMPs). A constitutional provision assures at least three opposition members, even if fewer than three actually are elected. A "nonconstituency" seat held by the opposition under this provision since 1997 became vacant in 2001, when the incumbent was declared bankrupt. In the last general election, in January 1997, the governing People's Action Party (PAP) won 81 of the 83 seats. The president appoints nominated members of parliament (NMP) from among nominations by a special select committee. NMPs enjoy the same privileges as MPs but cannot vote on constitutional matters or expenditures of funds. The maximum term of any one parliament is 5 years. Voting has been compulsory since 1959.

Judicial power is vested in the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The High Court exercises original criminal and civil jurisdiction in serious cases as well as appellate jurisdiction from subordinate courts. Its chief justice, senior judge, and six judges are appointed by the president. Appeals from the High Court are heard by the Court of Appeal. The right of appeal to the Privy Council in London was abolished effective April 1994.

The ruling political party in Singapore, reelected continuously since 1959, is the People's Action Party (PAP), now headed by Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong[?]. Goh succeeded Lee Kuan Yew, who served as Singapore's prime minister from independence through 1990. Since stepping down as prime minister, Lee has remained influential as Senior Minister.

The PAP has held the overwhelming majority of seats in Parliament since 1966, when the opposition Barisan Sosialis Party[?] (Socialist Front[?]), a left-wing group that split off from the PAP in 1961, resigned from Parliament, leaving the PAP as the sole representative party. In the general elections of 1968, 1972, 1976, and 1980, the PAP won all of the seats in an expanding parliament.

Workers' Party Secretary General J.B. Jeyaretnam[?] became the first opposition party MP in 15 years when he won a 1981 by-election. Opposition parties gained small numbers of seats in the general elections of 1984 (2 seats out of a total of 79), 1988 (1 seat of 81), 1991 (4 seats of 81) and 1997 (2 seats of 83). Meanwhile, the PAP share of the popular vote in contested seats declined from 78% in 1980 to 65% in 1997. Since the opposition has contested less than half the seats in the last two elections, overall voter support for the PAP may be somewhat higher.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Singapore
conventional short form: Singapore

Data code: SN

Government type: parliamentary republic[?]

Capital: Singapore

Administrative divisions: none

Independence: 9 August 1965 (from Malaysia)

National holiday: National Day, 9 August (1965)

Constitution: 3 June 1959, amended 1965 (based on preindependence State of Singapore Constitution)

Legal system: based on English common law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Suffrage: 21 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Sellapan Rama (S. R.) NATHAN (since 1 September 1999)
head of government: Prime Minister GOH Chok Tong (since 28 November 1990) and Deputy Prime Ministers LEE Hsien Loong (since 28 November 1990) and Tony TAN Keng Yam (since 1 August 1995)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president, responsible to Parliament
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 28 August 1999 (next to be held NA August 2005); following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or the leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister by the president; deputy prime ministers appointed by the president
election results: Sellapan Rama (S. R.) NATHAN elected president unopposed

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament (83 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 2 January 1997 (next to be held by 2002)
election results: percent of vote by party - PAP 75.3% (in contested constituencies), other 24.7%; seats by party - PAP 82, WP 1, SDA 1

Judicial branch: Supreme Court, chief justice is appointed by the president with the advice of the prime minister, other judges are appointed by the president with the advice of the chief justice; Court of Appeals

Political parties and leaders: People's Action Party or PAP [GOH Chok Tong, secretary general] - the governing party; Singapore Democratic Party[?] or SDP [CHEE Soon Juan]; Singapore Democratic Alliance[?] or SDA [CHIAM See Tong]; Workers' Party[?] or WP [LOW Thia Khiang]

International organization participation: APEC, AsDB, ASEAN, Australia Group (observer), BIS, C, CCC, CP, ESCAP, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, International Monetary Fund, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, OPCW, PCA, United Nations, UNCTAD, UNIKOM, UPU, World Health Organization, WIPO, WMO, World Trade Organization

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador CHAN Heng Chee
chancery: 3501 International Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 537-3100
FAX: [1] (202) 537-0876
consulate(s): New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Steven J. GREEN
embassy: 27 Napier Road, Singapore 258508
mailing address: FPO AP 96507
telephone: [65] 476-9100
FAX: [65] 476-9340

Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of red (top) and white; near the hoist side of the red band, there is a vertical, white crescent (closed portion is toward the hoist side) partially enclosing five white five-pointed stars arranged in a circle

See also : Singapore



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