Singapore Government and Politics

State and politics

Singapore Country Flag

Reference: Singapore Flag Meaning

According to, 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 applied.

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.

Human Rights

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 order.

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 occurs,

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

1965-70 Yusuf bin Ishak
1971-81 Benjamin Sheares
1981-85 CV Devan Nair
1985-93 Wee Kim Wee
1993-99 Ong Teng Cheong
1999-2011 SR Nathan
2011-17 Tony Tan
2017- Halimah Yacob

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.

Singapore Head of Government

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