Background and history of Singapore’s legal system

by | Jan 6, 2020 | Resources

In the nineteenth century, the British, who were broadening their domain in India, and whose exchange with China in the second 50% of the eighteenth century was extending, saw the requirement for a port in the South-East Asia area. Therefore, in late 1818, Lord Hastings, Governor-General of India, gave an unsaid endorsement to Sir Stamford Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen, to set up an exchanging station at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Singapore was in this way settled by Raffles when he arrived on 29 January 1819 and on 6 February 1819, finished up a conventional bargain with Sultan Hussein of Johor and the Temenggong, the by right and de facto leaders of Singapore individually.

In 1824, Singapore’s status as a British belonging was formalized by two new settlements. The first was the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of March 1824, by which the Dutch pulled back all issues with the British control of Singapore. The subsequent settlement was made with Sultan Hussein and Temenggong Abdu’r Rahman in August, by which the two proprietors surrendered the island outright to the British as an end-result of expanded money instalments and annuities.

Singapore, together with Malacca and Penang, the two British settlements in the Malay Peninsula, turned into the Straits Settlements in 1826, under the influence of British India. Thus, British custom-based law applied to Singapore as it did in India, particularly the Penal Code which was imported from the reformatory laws appropriate to India during that time.

By 1832, Singapore had become the focal point of government for the three regions. On 1 April 1867, the Straits Settlements turned into a Crown Colony under the locale of the Colonial Office in London.

During the resulting decades, Singapore flourished as an exchanging post and as the major key maritime station in the Far East of the British. This was hindered when Singapore tumbled to the Japanese on 15 February 1942 and was renamed Syonan (Light of the South). It stayed under Japanese occupation for the following three and a half years. Japanese law applied during this time.

The British powers returned in September 1945 and Singapore went under the British Military Administration. At the point when the time of military organization finished in March 1946, the Straits Settlements was broken down. On 1 April 1946, Singapore turned into a Crown Colony with another Colonial Constitution. Sacred forces were at first vested in the Governor who had a warning gathering of authorities and named non-authorities. This developed into the different Executive and Legislative Councils in July 1947. The Governor held firm authority over the state however there was an arrangement for the appointment of six individuals to the Legislative Council by well-known vote. Subsequently, Singapore’s first political decision was hung on 20 March 1948.

At the point when the Communist Party of Malaya attempted to assume control over Malaya and Singapore by power, a highly sensitive situation was pronounced in June 1948. The crisis went on for a long time. Towards the finish of 1953, the British government named a commission under Sir George Rendel to audit Singapore’s protected position and make suggestions for change. The Rendel recommendations were acknowledged by the administration and filled in as the premise of another constitution that gave Singapore a more noteworthy proportion of self-government.

The 1955 political decision was the primary dynamic political challenge in Singapore’s history. The Labor Front won 10 seats and David Marshall turned into Singapore’s first Chief Minister on 6 April 1955, with an alliance government made up of his own Labor Front, the United Malays National Organization and the Malayan Chinese Association. Marshall surrendered on 6 June 1956, after the breakdown of established talks in London on accomplishing full inside self-government. Lim Yew Hock, Marshall’s appointee and clergyman for Labor turned into the Chief Minister. The March 1957 protected crucial London drove by Lim Yew Hock was effective in arranging the principle terms of another Singapore Constitution.

On 28 May 1958, the Constitutional Agreement was marked in London. The British Parliament passed a State of Singapore Act and Singapore’s status was transformed from a settlement to a state. The Singapore (Constitution) Order-in-Council was authorized and it made the situation of a Yang di-Pertuan Negara as the protected head of express, a PM and a 51-chosen part Legislative Assembly.

Self-government was accomplished in 1959. In May that year, Singapore’s first broad political decision was held to pick 51 delegates to the first completely chose Legislative Assembly. The PAP won 43 seats, gathering 53.4 per cent of the complete votes. On June 3, the new Constitution affirming Singapore as a self-administering state was brought into power by the announcement of the Governor, Sir William Goode, who turned into the primary Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Head of State). The principal Government of the State of Singapore was confirmed on June 5, with Mr Lee Kuan Yew as Singapore’s first Prime Minister.

To anticipate a socialist take-over of Singapore, on 27 May 1961, the Malayan Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, proposed nearer political and financial co-activity between the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, North Borneo and Brunei as a merger. The principal terms of the merger concurred on by him and Lee Kuan Yew, were to have focal government duty regarding protection, outside issues and interior security, yet nearby independence in issues relating to instruction and work. Submission on the details of the merger held in Singapore on 1 September 1962 indicated overpowering help the merger. Malaysia was framed on 16 September 1963 and comprised of the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo (presently Sabah). Brunei quit. Singapore formally joined the Federation of Malaysia. The Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore (State Constitutions) Order-in-Council was authorized

The merger demonstrated to be fleeting. Singapore was isolated from the remainder of Malaysia on 9 August 1965, and turned into a sovereign, vote based and autonomous country. This partition was affected by three records: The Constitution of Malaysia (Singapore Amendment) Act, the Constitution of Singapore (Amendment) Act and the Republic of Singapore Independence Act of 1965.

Free Singapore was admitted to the United Nations on 21 September 1965 and turned into an individual from the Common abundance of Nations on 15 October 1965. On 22 December 1965, it turned into a republic, with Yusof Ishak as the republic’s first President.

The Constitution of Singapore is the preeminent law of Singapore and it is a classified constitution. The Constitution can’t be altered without the help of more than 66% of the individuals from parliament on the second and third readings. The president may look for conclusion on established issues from a council comprising of at least three judges of the Supreme Court. Singaporean courts, similar to the courts in Australia, can’t offer warning sentiments on the defendability of laws.

The Constitution settles in certain principal rights, for example, the opportunity of religion, the right to speak freely of discourse and equivalent rights. These individual rights are not outright but rather qualified by open interests, for example, the support of the open request, ethical quality and national security. Aside from the general security of racial and strict minorities, the extraordinary situation of Malays, as the indigenous individuals of Singapore, is intrinsically ordered.

The Constitution contains express arrangements portraying the forces and elements of the different organs of state, including the Legislature (Section 5), the Executive (Section 6) and the Judiciary (Section 7). 1991: the constitution was corrected to accommodate a prevalently chosen president.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.