Constitutional Law 3

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Constitutional Law 3

  1. 1. The Executive
  2. 2. The Executive Branch in Singapore <ul><li>The Executive Branch – Cabinet & the President </li></ul><ul><li>Cabinet composition & functions </li></ul><ul><li>The Head of State </li></ul><ul><li>Discretionary Powers of the Head of State </li></ul><ul><li>The Elected President & his roles </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Cabinet <ul><li>Parliamentary form of government – power lies mainly in the Cabinet </li></ul><ul><li>Cabinets developed in reigns of George I and George II in first half of 18 th century </li></ul><ul><li>English kings from Hanover, Germany, depended on small group of advisors to decide state policy </li></ul><ul><li>First British Prime Minister – Sir Robert Walpole (1676–1745) </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Cabinet <ul><li>Singapore – Cabinet emerged out of the old Executive Councils </li></ul><ul><li>1877 – First Executive Council formed to advise Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir William Robinson </li></ul><ul><li>1877–1954: Executive Council of the Straits Settlements </li></ul><ul><li>1954 – Rendel Constitution – First Council of Ministers </li></ul><ul><li>1958 – State of Singapore – Cabinet </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Cabinet <ul><li>Article 24(1) – there shall be ‘a Cabinet which shall consist of the Prime Minister and such other ministers as may be appointed in accordance with Article 25’ </li></ul><ul><li>No specification as to size of cabinet </li></ul><ul><li>No specification as to where members are to be drawn from </li></ul><ul><li>Prime Minister – Appointed by President – the person who ‘in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the Members of Parliament’ </li></ul><ul><li>Quaere: How does the President determine ‘confidence’? </li></ul>
  6. 6. The Cabinet <ul><li>Prime Minister – First among equals – most powerful member of the cabinet </li></ul><ul><li>Typically holds most powerful post within his/her party – Secretary-General </li></ul><ul><li>Current Cabinet – 20 members. </li></ul><ul><li>Non-traditional posts – Minister Mentor (2004); Senior Minister (1988); Minister without Portfolio (1980) </li></ul><ul><li>Drawn from the ranks of MPs </li></ul><ul><li>Ministers charged with various departments or ministries by PM under Article 30. </li></ul><ul><li>PM may retain any portfolio for himself – eg Lee Hsien Loong was PM & Minister for Finance. </li></ul>
  7. 7. The Cabinet <ul><li>Cabinet Ministers run ministries assisted by permanent secretaries and possibly junior ministers (Ministers of State). </li></ul><ul><li>Walter Bagehot (author of The English Constitution ) observed that the efficiency of the British government lay in the ‘close union and nearly complete fusion of the executive and legislative powers’ </li></ul><ul><li>Article 24 – Cabinet has ‘general direction and control of the Government’ </li></ul><ul><li>Cabinet can only by summoned by the Prime Minister – Article 28(1) </li></ul><ul><li>Collective responsibility of the cabinet – Article 24(2). </li></ul>
  8. 8. The Cabinet <ul><li>Ministers hold office as long as they remain MPs </li></ul><ul><li>Term of office runs for duration of each Parliament </li></ul><ul><li>President may declare office of PM vacant if (a) PM resigns; or (b) ‘acting in his discretion’, the President ‘is satisfied’ that the PM has lost the confidence of the House. </li></ul><ul><li>Quaere: Can the President dismiss the PM? Perak Crisis 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Quaere 2: Is the Executive in Singapore an elected dictatorship? </li></ul>
  9. 9. The Head of State <ul><li>President – Head of State </li></ul><ul><li>Initially a ceremonial role based on British Westminster practice. </li></ul><ul><li>Unlike British Governor who had real powers, President had very limited personal discretion: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Appointment of Prime Minister </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Withholding assent to dissolve Parliament </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Proclamation of Emergency </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Changed dramatically with Elected Presidency amendments in 1991. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Presidential Discretion (pre-EP) <ul><li>Appointment of Prime Minister </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Meaning of ‘is satisfied’ – based on objective criteria or purely subjective. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Justiciability of President’s discretion? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Proclamation of Emergency </li></ul><ul><li>Presidential Pardon </li></ul><ul><li>Assent to Bills unaffected by EP provisions </li></ul>
  11. 11. Presidential Discretion – Appointment of PM <ul><li>Appointment of Prime Minister </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Adegbenro v Akintola (Privy Council, on appeal from Western Nigeria, 1963) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stephen Kalong Ningkan v Tun abang Haji Openg & Tawi Sli (Sarawak, 1966) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tun Haji Mustapha v Tun Datuk Haji Mohamed Adnan Robert & Datuk Pairin Kitigan (Sabah, 1986) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Presidential Discretion – Emergency <ul><li>Is Proclamation of Emergency reviewable? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lee Mau Seng v Minister for Home Affairs (1971) – the words ‘is satisfied’ does not mean that he is personally satisfied </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Head of State’s exercise of discretion cannot be challenged in court </li></ul></ul>150(1): If the President is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security or economic life of Singapore is threatened, he may issue a Proclamation of Emergency.
  13. 13. Presidential Discretion – Emergency <ul><li>Is Proclamation of Emergency reviewable? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lee Mau Seng v Minister for Home Affairs (1971) – the words ‘is satisfied’ does not mean that he is personally satisfied </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Head of State’s exercise of discretion cannot be challenged in court </li></ul></ul>150(1): If the President is satisfied that a grave emergency exists whereby the security or economic life of Singapore is threatened, he may issue a Proclamation of Emergency.
  14. 14. The Elected Presidency <ul><li>Arose out of concern that a ‘freak election result’ could bring in a profligate and populist government (1984) </li></ul><ul><li>First White Paper 1988 – outline of main scheme </li></ul><ul><li>Second White Paper 1990 – inclusion of additional functions </li></ul><ul><li>Key Considerations </li></ul><ul><li>Preservation of parliamentary system of government </li></ul><ul><li>New mechanism must act quickly </li></ul><ul><li>New Institution must have high moral authority </li></ul><ul><li>President must have ministerial, high executive or administrative experience to ‘balance the demands of political expediency and the public interest </li></ul><ul><li>Entrenchment in the Constitution </li></ul>
  15. 15. The Elected Presidency <ul><li>President to be elected by citizens of Singapore under Presidential Elections Act </li></ul><ul><li>Term of office is 6 years </li></ul><ul><li>Discretion now includes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>withholding assent to any Bill under Articles 22E, 22H, 144(2) & 148A </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Withholding concurrence under Art 144 to any guarantee or loan to be given or raised by Govt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disapproving transactions referred to in Arts 22B(7), 22D(6) or 148G </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Withholding concurrence for preventive detention cases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Qualifications </li></ul><ul><li>Singapore citizen </li></ul><ul><li>Aged 45 or above </li></ul><ul><li>Resident in Singapore for not less than 10 years </li></ul><ul><li>Satisfy Presidential Elections Committee that he is person ‘of integrity, good character and reputation’. </li></ul><ul><li>Held high office for not less than 3 years in prescribed list under Art 19(2)(g) – cf Andrew Kuan (CFO, JTC) </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Elected Presidency <ul><li>Entrenchment under Article 5(2A) still in abeyance </li></ul><ul><li>President Ong Teng Cheong’s attempt to test the system: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Constitutional Reference No 1 of 1995 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Press interview 1999 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>President Nathan’s concurrence to draw down of $4.5 billion for Government’s $20.5 billion Resilience Package under Article 148A(1) </li></ul><ul><li>Quaere: Process deployed in making decision on the draw-down? Was this an adequate safeguard and second key? </li></ul>

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