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Political system of Singapore Essay

Political System
According to Quah as cited in Funston:
“Controlled democracy” – “a republic with a parliamentary system of government based on the British Westminster model, but which has been adopted to suit the local conditions”. Three important differences between the Singaporean and British parliamentary systems: (1) Singapore has a written constitution; (2) Singapore has a unicameral legislature; and (3) Singapore is not a monarchy. Head of State – President  elected by the citizens of Singapore for a term of six years and is no longer a symbolic figure. Head of Government – Prime Minister  appointed by the President on the basis of majority vote in Parliament According to Kim as cited in Quah:

Singapore’s political system can be described as a mixture of parliamentary democracy, multiracial polity, and mixed-economy state. Multiracial polity – multiracialism is another feature of Singapore’s political system.  Accommodation rather than assimilation and the careful and sensible policies pursued by both the British and PAP administrations have mainly contributed to the preservation of racial harmony.  PAP realized that national unity would be impossible to achieve without the strong support of the Malay-and the other communities in Singapore.

A Modern, Mixed Economy – Singapore is a new state with a new society and its political system is modern and secular. Why: (1) Singapore is the only city-state in the region which has an almost non-existent indigenous population as most of the people were migrant origin; (2) It has the most developed entrepot trade city in SEA with no agrarian hinterland; (3) Chinese form the majority and where by implication a strong managerial class has evolved; and (4) It has the highest literacy rate.

Electoral System
Compulsory Voting
 Singapore adopted the British electoral system of “first past the post”.  Two goals of having a compulsory voting: (1) to overcome the problem of apathetic electorate; and (2) to prevent the occurrence of corrupt practices at elections. Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Scheme

 Introduced in July 24, 1984 by PM Lee Kuan Yew
 To allow for the seating in Parliament of three opposition candidates who have received the highest percentage of votes (exceeding 15 per cent) in their constituencies.  They (the NCMPs) would not be able to vote in Parliament on Bills to amend the Constitution, a Supply Bill or Supplementary Supply Bill, a Money Bill, or a vote of no confidence in the government. Nominated Members of Parliamentary

 It was approved on March 29,1990.
 Two objectives of the NMP scheme (as stated by Goh Chok Tong): (1) to further strengthen the political system of Singapore by offering more opportunity for political participation; and (2) to evolve a more consensual style of government where alternative views are heard and constructive dissent accommodated.

Political Party
Transformed from a competitive one (May 1959-Sept 1966) to a de facto one party dominant system in October 1966. However, in October 1981, J. B. Jeyaratnam of the Worker’s Party defeated the People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate, Pang Kim Hin, in the Anson by-election. PAP Predominance

 Four reasons for the PAP’s dominance: (1) ensuring Singapore’s survival; (2) fighting the communists and communalists; (3) improvement in living standards; and (4) weak and ineffective opposition political parties

According to Chee as cited in Quah:
 PAP twin objectives: (1) to end colonialism; and (2) to create an independent, democratic, non-communist, socialist Malaya. For PAP, “…to achieve freedom we must achieve merger”.  The party has also emphasized that its brand of socialism is democratic socialism – socialist revolution can be achieved through the democratic system and draws a distinction against communists. The Worker’s Party

 It dates its origins in 1957 when David Marshall decided to build an organization for his political career after his departure from the Labour Front government.  The party’s platform under Marshall: Merdeka, Democracy and Socialism.  The party’s objective under J.B.J: Towards a Caring Society – aimed to attain a fully democratic socialist society. Barisan Socialis

 It is believed to have ties with the Malayan Communist Party.  Party’s objectives echo the MCP line: to eradicate the colonialism and to set up a united national independent state comprising the Federation of Malaya and Singapore.  In 1980, it was at best a legendary symbol of an opposition that was at least a match for the PAP, but this symbolic appeal is fast fading. Why: (1) it was thrown into considerable confusion when Singapore became independent on its separation from Malaysia; and (2) internal party differences between the radical and moderate factions over strategy have split the party further.

It consists of the Supreme Court and Subordinate Courts.
Function: Chief Guardians of the Constitution.

In 1969, trial by jury was completely abolished through an amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code  Though PAP government was criticized by this procedure, Lee Kuan Yew defended it by referring to the “difficulty of getting witnesses to testify in court because of the fear of reprisals”. It has been “criticized for its pro-PAP leanings, although such allegations are difficult to substantiate”.

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