Singapore is a republic with a parliamentary system of government. The city-state and former British colony adopted the Westminster model after it gained independence on 9 August 1965.
The first Constitution of Singapore was drawn up in 1867 with the establishment of the Straits Settlements to unite the British colonies of Singapore, Malacca and Penang.
The constitution was drawn up colonial-style, in which the governor ruled with the help of his Legislative Council (Legco) and Executive Council (Exco).
In March 1946, the Straits Settlements was dissolved and Singapore became a Crown Colony. In 1955, a new Constitution came into effect.
After Chief Minister Lim Yew Hock succeeded in attaining self-government for Singapore, the first Constitution of the Republic of Singapore was enforced in June 3, 1959 and amended twice, in 1965 and 1991.
Prior to 1991, the President was appointed by Parliament and had a largely ceremonial role. With the 1991 amendment, the President was to be elected by the citizens of Singapore.
President Tony Tan Keng Yam was elected on 27 August 2011.
The Cabinet has been led by the current Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, since 12 Aug 2004.
Structure of government
There are three branches of government: Executive, Legislative and the Judiciary.
The Executive branch comprises the Head of State, the President who is elected on a six-year term, and the Cabinet led by the Prime Minister.
Former Presidents of Singapore
1965 to 1970 Yusof bin Ishak
1971 to 1981 Benjamin Sheares
1981 to 1985 Devan Nair
1985 to 1993 Wee Kim Wee
1993 to 1999 Ong Teng Cheong
1999 to 2011 S.R. Nathan
Former Prime Ministers of Singapore
1959 to 1990 Lee Kuan Yew
1990 to 2004 Goh Chok Tong
The Legislative branch is the Parliament, which is elected by general election every five years. The first sitting of Parliament was held on 8 December 1965. The first general election for Parliament was held on 13 April 1968. There are 28 registered political parties.
The current Parliament was elected on 7 May 2011. It has 87 elected Members, with 81 Members of Parliament (MPs) from the People's Action Party, 6 MPs from the opposition Worker’s Party, 3 Non-Constituency MPs, and 9 Nominated MPs.
The Judiciary is made up of the Supreme Court and the Subordinate Courts. The Judiciary administers the law independently of the Executive and this independence is safeguarded by the Constitution.
Source: Istana Singapore, Prime Minister’s Office
Back To Top