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  • 1.
    • East India Company founded in 1600 by Royal Charter.
    • Regulating Act & Pitt’s Act 1784 gave British parliament control over Indian affairs & legislative powers.
    • Feb 1819 – Raffles signs treaty of Friendship with Sultan Hussein & Temenggong Abdul Rahman – power to establish trading post in Singapore.
    • 1824 – Anglo-Dutch Treaty – treaty with Sultan & Temenggong for cession by Crawfurd.
  • 2.
    • 1826 – Second Charter of Justice – creation of Court of Judicature
    • 1833 Charter Act – Parliamentary control over EIC. Governor-General in Council to legislate for Straits Settlements
    • 1855 – Third Charter of Justice 1855
    • 1867 – Transfer to Colonial Office. Establishment of own Legislative Council & Executive Council. Supreme Court of the Straits Settlements.
  • 3.
    • 1920s – Sir Laurence Guillemard’s reforms – more representative law- making body
    • 1942-45 – Japanese Occupation
    • 1945 – British Military Administration – martial law
    • 1946 – Abolition of Straits Settlements. Singapore now colony directly under Colonial Office.
    • 1948 – First elections for first elected members of Legislative Council
  • 4.
    • 1954 – Rendel Commission & Rendel Constitution
    • Elections 1955 – Legislative Assembly. David Marshall Chief Minister
    • Constitutional Talks 1956-1958
    • Self-Government 1958; elections 1959
    • Merger with Malaysia 1963
    • Separation 1965
  • 5.
    • Constitutional Patchwork
      • State of Singapore Constitution 1963
      • Republic of Singapore Independence Act 1965
      • Parts of Federal Constitution 1963 – Fundamental Liberties
  • 6.
    • Wee Chong Jin Constitutional Commission 1966
      • Entrenchment of fundamental liberties provisions
      • Creation of Council of State to safeguard minority rights and interests
      • Creation of office of Ombudsman
      • Entrenching of Judicial Offices
  • 7.
    • Entrenchment
    • Fundamental Liberties, including right to vote – altered only if supported by two-thirds majority in Parliament & at national referendum.
    • Public Service Commission, Judicial & Legal Service Commission, Ombudsman, Council of State – altered only if supported by two-thirds majority in Parliament.
    • 1965 – Amendment procedure of State Constitution 1963 changed to simple majority
    • Two-thirds majority majority only restored in 1979.
  • 8.
    • Presidential Council for Minority Rights 1969
    • Changes to judiciary - new Supreme Court of Judicature Act, 1969
    • Supernumerary judges 1971
    • Entrenching sovereignty 1972
    • Judicial Commissioners 1979
    • Reprint of the Constitution 1979
    • Barker – All major amendments completed.
  • 9.
    • Changes to Parliamentary system
    • Non-constituency MP (NCMP) 1984
    • Group Representation Constituency (GRC) 1988
    • Nominated MP (NMP) 1990
    • Elected President 1991
  • 10.
    • Exactly what is the Singapore Constitution?
    • From where does it draw its legitimacy?
    • What do we mean by constitutional supremacy?
    • What role do the courts play in constitutional interpretation?
  • 11.
    • Based on law? Hans Kelsen – every norm can be traced to a higher norm and ultimately to the grundnorm .
    • Based on constituent power of the people? Are the people even relevant?
    • Based on performance?
  • 12.
    • Why is the Constitution is supreme?
    • Because it declares itself to be such – eg Article 4(1).
    • Because the people deem it to be such?
    • Because it is harder to amend than ordinary law – eg Article 5(2) and Article 8(1)
  • 13.
    • Article 4(1)
    • This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic of Singapore and any law enacted by the Legislature after the commencement of this Constitution which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.
    • Article 5(2)
    • A Bill seeking to amend any provision in this Constitution shall not be passed by Parliament unless it has been supported on Second and Third Readings by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total number of the Members thereof.
  • 14.
    • Article 8(1)
    • A Bill for making an amendment to this Part shall not be passed by Parliament unless it has been supported, at a national referendum, by not less than two-thirds of the total number of votes cast by the electors registered under the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap. 218).
    • Article 5(2A) [in abeyance]
    • Unless the President, acting in his discretion, otherwise directs the Speaker in writing, a Bill seeking to amend —
    • (a) this clause or Article 5A;
    • (b) any provision in Part IV;
    • (c) any provision in Chapter 1 of Part V or Article 93A;
    • (d) Article 65 or 66; or
    • (e) any other provision in this Constitution which authorises the President to act in his discretion,
    • shall not be passed by Parliament unless it has also been supported at a national referendum by not less than two-thirds of the total number of votes cast by the electors registered under the Parliamentary Elections Act (Cap. 218).
  • 15.
    • Implied Amendments – MacCawley v The King vs Article 5 ‘seeking to amend’
    • Beyond limits placed by Articles 5 & 8, are there any limitations to legislative power?
    • Are the inherent limits to the amendment power of Parliament?
    • Basic Features doctrine – Kesavananda v State of Kerala Supreme Court of India 1973.
    • Loh Kooi Choon (Malaysia, 1977)
    • Teo Soh Lung v MHA (Singapore, 1990)
  • 16.
    • Article 4(1)
    • This Constitution is the supreme law of the Republic of Singapore and any law enacted by the Legislature after the commencement of this Constitution which is inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.
    • Article 93
    • The judicial power of Singapore shall be vested in a Supreme Court and in such subordinate courts as may be provided by any written law for the time being in force.
  • 17.
    • Judicial Review power – Only exercised once since 1965 to declare legislation unconstitutional – Taw Cheng Kong v PP (1998) HC
    • Overturned in Court of Appeal. Yong CJ : ‘It is not for the courts to dictate the scope and ambit of a section, or rule on its propriety. That is a matter which only Parliament can decide; the courts can only interpret what is enacted.’
    • Most issues concern interpretation of fundamental liberties. Limits of judicial interpretation?
    • Ong Ah Chuan v PP (1981) – Privy Council – Lord Diplock – ‘generous interpretation’ ; avoid ‘austerity of tabulated legalism’ to give individuals the ‘full measure’ of fundamental liberties’.
  • 18.
    • Four Walls Doctrine – Yong CJ in Chan Hiang Leng Colin (1994): A Constitution is to be interpreted ‘within its own four walls and not in the light of analogies drawn from other countries such as Great Britain, the United States of America or Australia.’
    • Rajeevan Edakalavan v PP (1998): ‘members of Parliament are freely elected by the people of Singapore and represent the interests of the constituency who entrust them to act fairly, justly and reasonably.’
    • Jabar v PP (1995): ‘Any law which provides for the deprivation of a person’s life or personal liberty, is valid and binding so long as it is validly passed by Parliament. The court is no concerned with whether it is also fair, just and reasonable as well.’
  • 19.
    • ‘ The Singapore legal systems is really not very different from that of other countries that derive their systems from the common law tradition.’ Comment on the validity of this statement with reference to the material you have covered in your readings.
    • What, in your opinion, are the biggest challenges to Singapore’s legal system as you understand it?