Information about Singapore: Singapore Government
Singapore Government

Singapore is a republic with a parliamentary system of government based on the Westminster model. This means that all cabinet members must be elected members of Parliament. (An analogy with the American model would mean that all of the US President's cabinet secretaries would be congressional representatives.)

Legislation is passed by Parliament and if it appears strange that every law proposed is passed, it is because this is the Westminster model. If a law does not pass, it means that the party in power does not command the majority of Parliament and therefore no longer holds the reins of power.

The President

The Constitution provides for a President who is the Head of State. The Presidential position is more a figurehead, just as the Queen of England; he does not have any real decision-making power. In 1993, the law was changed to give the President veto powers if he was elected. The elected President holds office for a fixed term of six years. He is empowered to veto government budgets and appointments to public office. He can also examine the government’s exercise of its powers under the Internal Security Act and religious harmony laws, and in investigations of corruption.

A Council of Presidential Advisors is appointed to advise and make recommendations to the President. The President must consult the Council before performing some of his functions, for instance, in appointing key civil servants.

The first Presidential election was held on 28 August 1993. Mr Ong Teng Cheong became Singapore’s first elected President.

The Cabinet

The Cabinet is led by the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President, as the Member of Parliament who commands the confidence of the majority of the Members of Parliament. On the advice of the Prime Minister, the President appoints other ministers from among the Members of Parliament to form the Cabinet.

The Cabinet is responsible for all government policies and for administering the affairs of state. It is responsible collectively to Parliament, and comprises the Prime Minister and the ministers in charge of the ministries of Communications, Community Development, Defence, Education, the Environment, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Health, Home Affairs, Information and the Arts, Labour, Law, National Development, and Trade and Industry.

The Cabinet comprises the following members effective 19 January 1997:

  • Mr Goh Chok Tong - Prime Minister
  • Mr Lee Kuan Yew - Senior Minister, Prime Minister's Office
  • Brig-Gen (NS) Lee Hsien Loong - Deputy Prime Minister, Prime Minister's Office
  • Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence
  • Prof S. Jayakumar - Minister for Law and Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Dr Richard Hu Tsu Tau - Minister for Finance
  • Mr Lee Yock Suan - Minister for Information and the Arts and Minister for the Environment
  • Mr Wong Kan Seng - Minister for Home Affairs
  • Mr Yeo Cheow Tong - Minister for Communications and Information Technology
  • Brig-Gen (NS) George Yong-Boon Yeo - Minister for Trade and Industry
  • Dr Lee Boon Yang - Minister for Manpower
  • Mr Mah Bow Tan - Minister for National Development
  • Mr Lim Boon Heng - Minister without Portfolio
  • Mr Lim Hng Kiang - Minister for Health and Second Minister for Finance
  • Mr Abdullah Tarmugi - Minister for Community Development and Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs
  • Rear-Adm (NS) Teo Chee Hean - Minister for Education and Second Minister for Defence

Parliament

Parliament is elected by a general election every five years or less. There are 23 registered political parties in Singapore. The People’s Action Party (PAP) has formed the government since 1959. The last General Election was held on 2 January 1997, with the PAP winning 81 of the 83 seats in Parliament.

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