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Legislating Dominance: Parliament and the Making of Singapore’s Governance Model

  • Kevin Y. L. TanEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Since 1968, the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has dominated Parliament so emphatically that many political commentators have labelled Singapore a one-party state. Between 1968 and 1981, the PAP occupied every single seat in Parliament, and even after this hegemony was broken with the Anson by-election of 1981, the opposition has never won more than seven seats in Parliament since. This overwhelming dominance of Parliament gave the PAP every opportunity to craft a state after its own image, but interestingly it did not do so, at least not till the 1980s. It was the shock of the Anson by-election loss that pushed the PAP into institution-making high gear. Through a series of constitutional changes, the structure of Parliament was itself transformed, with different forms and degrees of representation through the Non-Constituency Members of Parliament, the Nominated Members of Parliament and the Group Representation Constituency scheme. The office of the elected president was also transformed into an elected one. I argue that all these constitutional changes were designed to entrench the PAP’s model of governance, and in the case of the elected presidency, as a safety net against a ‘freak election’ that would oust the PAP from power.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.S. Rajaratnam School of International StudiesNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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