State and politics
Singapore achieved internal autonomy from the United
Kingdom in 1958 and joined the Federation of Malaysia,
formed in 1963 through a merger of the Malaysian Federation,
Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore. After de facto being excluded
from the federation, in 1965 he became an independent
republic and a member of the Commonwealth. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of SG and its meanings of Singapore.
Parliament consists of a chamber of 83 elected members,
with voting rights for adult Singaporeans. A Presidency
Council on Minority Rights was established in 1970 with the
task of reviewing new laws in multi-ethnic Singapore.
Through a constitutional change in 1991, the president is
now elected and has veto rights, especially in financial
matters. Halimah Yacob (born 1954) has been the country's
president since 2017. She is the country's first woman to
hold the post.
The dominant political party in Singapore is the
People's Action Party (PAP), which has ruled the
country since independence. Since 2004, Lee Hsien Loong is
Prime Minister. PAP controls almost all seats in Parliament.
The opposition is weak, and several leading opposition
politicians have been forced to abandon the policy after
being sentenced to heavy fines in high-profile trials, where
they have been sued by leading politicians in the PAP. The
party has significant influence in society, financially
through, among other things. Temasek Holdings, as well as
through the control of the press, unions and universities.
The legal system in Singapore is to a large extent based
on English law, especially in the area of commercial law,
where the English legal development is almost slavishly
followed. In family law, however, domestic law is mainly
The judiciary consists of Magistrates' Courts,
District Courts, the High Court, the
Court of Appeal and the Court of Criminal Appeal.
The death penalty can be punished for some serious crimes.
Although the country is formally a representative
democracy, one and the same party has ruled since
independence. The country's former prime minister Lee Kuan
Yew was a prominent critic of human rights, which he said
did not suit East Asian cultures.
Fundamental freedoms and rights are guaranteed in the
Constitution but are limited in practice. Demonstrations or
public meetings with political agendas are in principle not
allowed. All organizations, including religious
associations, with more than ten members must be registered.
The country's authorities have broad powers to ban all
organizations that are deemed to threaten public peace and
Newspapers, radio and TV are indirectly controlled by the
government. A printing press whose management is appointed
by the government prints the majority of the country's
newspapers. A state-owned company owns most radio stations
and controls all TVs, including international channels. It
is forbidden to own a private satellite receiver.
Self-censorship among journalists is high and Reporters
Without Borders ranks Singapore as number 151 out of 180
countries surveyed (2017), which is a very low rating.
The Internal Security Act and the Prosecution Act are
routinely used to silence opposition.
Singapore applies impunity and mandatory death penalty by
hanging for countless crimes, including murder and drug
offenses. During the 1990s, most prisoners were executed per
year, but enforcement has since declined sharply. Over the
past ten years, three prisoners per year have been executed
on average. There have been no executions for some years. On
the other hand, the number of sanctions has increased by
thousands over the past decades. Torture is forbidden but
Ethnic affiliation is officially registered on the
national ID cards. It is allowed to change one's registered
ethnicity twice in life. Since 2010, it is possible for
children of parents with different ethnicities to register
both as their own. The largest ethnic group is Chinese.
Discrimination against minorities is common in the housing
market, for example.
Singapore is not an equal country. Women generally have
lower paid jobs and lower education than men. Women have
always had the right to vote in Singapore, but the female
representation in politics is low with just under a fifth of
women in parliament. In 1961, statutes were adopted to
strengthen women's rights in, inter alia, marriage. Marriage
to persons under the age of 18 is prohibited. Marital rape
is not a criminal offense and gender is not a ground for
discrimination. Abortion up to week 24 is legal.
Prostitution is not criminalized, but some acts related to
prostitution are illegal, such as buying sex from people
under 18 or owning a brothel. The sex trade includes many
women from other Asian countries who have come to Singapore
either for prostitution or for other work.
Migrant workers make up almost a third of Singapore's
total workforce and are found mainly in household and
construction work. Migrant workers often live in unsafe
conditions and their legal protection is weak. However, a
special law is intended to protect domestic workers from
exploitation and since 2013 they are also entitled to one
day off per week.
Singapore discriminates against LGBTQ people. Gay
relationships are not recognized by law and sexual
intercourse between men is criminalized. Homosexuals are
also not allowed to adopt children. It is permissible to
officially change the sex after a gender correction
operation. No anti-discrimination laws protect homosexuals,
bisexuals, transgender people or queer people, who are often
discriminated against in working life and may find it
difficult to find housing. LGBTQ associations have a very
difficult time registering as organizations.
Singapore joined the United Nations in 1965 but has not
ratified the most central of UN human rights conventions.
These are the Convention on Civil and Political Rights and
the Convention on Economic and Social Rights.
Heads of State
||Yusuf bin Ishak
||CV Devan Nair
||Wee Kim Wee
||Ong Teng Cheong
The base strategically important to the British Singapore
became the primary target of attack on the Japanese, when in
December 1941 they began their invasion of the Malacca
peninsula. Singapore had a heavily fortified naval port, but
the defense of the country was neglected. The garrison
numbered 88,600 men (British, Indian, Australian) under
Lieutenant General AE Percival. Following the influx of
refugees, there were close to 1 million civilians in
Singapore. After fierce fighting outside Singapore and since
the Japanese blocked water supply, Singapore capitulated on
February 15, 1942. Its fall marked the end of British rule
in East Asia and has been designated as Britain's most
severe military disaster in modern times. Recent research
has drawn harsh criticism of General Percival's lack of
initiative in the pious defense.