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The Singapore Legal System Background and Constitution In the 19th century, the British, who were extending their dominion in India, and whose trade with China in the second half of the 18th century was expanding, saw the need for a port of call in the South-East Asia region.
Singapore was thus established by Raffles when he landed on 29 January and on 6 Februaryconcluded a formal treaty with Sultan Hussein of Johor and the Temenggong, the de jure and defacto rulers of Singapore respectively. InSingapore's status as a British possession Safeguard votes research paper formalised by two new treaties.
The second treaty was made with Sultan Hussein and Temenggong Abdu'r Rahman in August, by which the two owners ceded the island out right to the British in return for increased cash payments and pensions. As a result, British common law applied to Singapore as it did in India, especially the Penal Code which was imported from the penal laws applicable to India during that time.
BySingapore had become the centre of government for the three areas. During the ensuing decades, Singapore prospered as a trading post and as the major strategic naval station in the Far East of the British.
This was interrupted when Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15 Februaryand was renamed Syonan Light of the South. It remained under Japanese occupation for the next three and a half years.
Japanese law applied during this time. When the period of military administration ended in Marchthe Straits Settlements was dissolved. Constitutional powers were initially vested in the Governor who had an advisory council of officials and nominated non-officials.
This evolved into the separate Executive and Legislative Councils in July The Governor retained firm control over the colony but there was provision for the election of six members to the Legislative Council by popular vote.
Hence, Singapore's first election was held on 20 March When the Communist Party of Malaya tried to take over Malaya and Singapore by force, a state of emergency was declared in June The emergency lasted for 12 years.
Towards the end ofthe British government appointed a commission under Sir George Rendel to review Singapore's constitutional position and make recommendations for change.
The Rendel proposals were accepted by the government and served as the basis of a new constitution that gave Singapore a greater measure of self-government. The election was the first active political contest in Singapore's history.
Marshall resigned on 6 Juneafter the breakdown of constitutional talks in London on attaining full internal self government. The March constitutional mission to London led by Lim Yew Hock was successful in negotiating the main terms of a new Singapore Constitution.
On 28 Maythe Constitutional Agreement was signed in London. The Singapore Constitution Order-in-Council was enacted and it created the position of a Yang di-Pertuan Negara as the constitutional head of state, a prime minister and a elected member Legislative Assembly.
Self-government was attained in In May that year Singapore's first general election was held to choose 51 representatives to the first fully elected Legislative Assembly. The PAP won 43 seats, gleaning The main terms of the merger, agreed on by him and Lee Kuan Yew, were to have central government responsibility for defence, foreign affairs and internal security, but local autonomy in matters pertaining to education and labor.
A referendum on the terms of the merger held in Singapore on 1 September showed overwhelming support the merger. Singapore officially joined the Federation of Malaysia.
Singapore was separated from the rest of Malaysia on 9 Augustand became a sovereign, democratic and independent nation. This separation was effected by three documents: Independent Singapore was admitted to the United Nations on 21 Septemberand became a member of the Common wealth of Nations on 15 October On 22 Decemberit became a republic, with Yusof bin Ishak as the republic's first President.
The Constitution of Singapore is the supreme law of Singapore and it is a codified constitution. The Constitution cannot be amended without the support of more than two-thirds of the members of parliament on the second and third readings.
The president may seek opinion on constitutional issues from a tribunal consisting of not less than three judges of the Supreme Court.
Singaporean courts, like the courts in Australia, cannot offer advisory opinions on the constitutionality of laws. Fundamental Rights The Constitution entrenches certain fundamental rights, such as the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and equal rights.
These individual rights are not absolute but qualified by public interests such as the maintenance of public order, morality and national security. Apart from the general protection of racial and religious minorities, the special position of Malays, as the indigenous people of Singapore, is constitutionally mandated.
Powers and Functions of Organs of State The Constitution contains express provisions delineating the powers and functions of the various organs of state, including the Legislature Section 5the Executive Section 6 and the Judiciary Section 7. At least one member of the GRC must be from a minority race.
The jury system had been severely limited in Singapore and was entirely abolished in A Guide to the Singapore Legal System and Legal Research.
by Tzi Yong Sam Sim. Tzi Yong 'Sam' Sim is a graduate of the National University of Singapore (LLB). He holds BA, MA from Cambridge University, and he is presently an LLM candidate () at the New York University School of Law.
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