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The unicameral Parliament of Singapore is the legislature of Singaporemarker with the President as its head. It currently consists of 84 Members of Parliament. Based on the concept of parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdommarker, it is supreme over all other government institutions and may change or repeal with a majority vote any legislation passed by previous parliaments. The maximum term of any one Parliament of Singapore is five years, after which a parliamentary election must be held within three months of the dissolution of Parliament.

The Parliament originally met at the Old Parliament Housemarker from 1955 through 1999. In 1999, Parliament moved into a new facility; the main building is newly constructed and the rear building is the Former Attorney's General Chambers.

History

Until 1965, Parliament was known as the Legislative Assembly, established under the 1955 Constitution of Singapore. This was Singapore's first democratically elected legislature, replacing the colonial Legislative Council. Following elections held under the revised Constitution in 1959, which provided for full self-government, the People's Action Party (PAP) gained a majority of seats, and its leader, Lee Kuan Yew, became the first Prime Minister. The role of the Assembly remained unchanged when Singapore became a state of Malaysiamarker in 1963.

Following Singapore's secession from the Federation on August 9, 1965, the Constitution was amended on December 22 of that year to rename the Legislative Assembly, "the Parliament". This was made effective retroactively from the date of Singapore's independence.

Composition

The Parliament can have a maximum of 96 members, of which 84 are elected by the people, up to three may be appointed Non-Constituency Members of Parliament, and a maximum of nine Nominated Members of Parliament.

The 84 elected members of parliament (MPs) are elected on a plurality voting basis and represent either single-member constituencies (SMCs) or group Representation Constituencies (GRCs). Formerly, there were no GRCs, and all constituencies of Singapore had only one member and were numerous, but the amendment to the Parliamentary Elections Act in 1991 led to the creation of GRCs.

The party which forms the majority of seats will have its leader as the Prime Minister, who will then select members of Parliament to form the Cabinet. In many republics based on the British parliamentary model, the head of state is elected by Parliament; however, since 1993, the President of Singapore has been popularly elected. Out of the current 84 elected members of parliament, ten are female. In the last general election in 2006, the incumbent People's Action Party (PAP) won 82 of the 84 seats, with the same configuration as the previous election in 2001, but with a loss of 9% of the popular vote.

The constitution also provides for the appointment of other members of parliament not voted in at an election. Up to six Non-Constituency Members of Parliament from the opposition political parties can be appointed. Currently, there is one Non-Constituency Member of Parliament.

A constitutional provision for the appointment of up to nine Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) was made in 1990. NMPs are appointed by the president for a term of two and a half years on the recommendation of a Select Committee chaired by the Speaker of Parliament and are not connected to any political parties. In 2005, nine NMPs were sworn in, out of which five were female.

Both non-constituency and nominated members of parliament cannot vote on the following issues:
  • amendment of the constitution
  • public funds
  • vote of no confidence in the government
  • removing the president from office


Law making

The Parliament House from the riverfront.


Before any law is passed, it is first introduced in parliament as a draft called a bill. Bills are usually introduced by a minister on behalf of the cabinet, known as Government Bill. However, any member of parliament can introduce a bill, known as a Private Member's Bill. All bills must go through three readings in parliament and receive the president's assent to become an Act of Parliament.

Each bill goes through several stages before it becomes a law. The first stage is a mere formality known as the first reading, where it is introduced without a debate. This is followed by the second reading, where members of parliament debate on the general principles of the bill. If parliament opposes the bill, it may vote to reject the bill.

If the bill goes through the second reading, the bill is sent to a Select Committee where every clause in the bill is examined. Members of parliament who support the bill in principle but do not agree with certain clauses can propose amendments to those clauses at this stage. Following its report back to parliament, the bill will go through its third reading where only minor amendments will be allowed before it is passed.

Most bills passed by parliament are scrutinised by the Presidential Council for Minority Rights which makes a report to the Speaker of Parliament stating whether there are clauses in a bill which affects any racial or religious community. If approved by the council, the bill will be presented for the president's assent.

The last stage involves the granting of assent by the president, before the bill officially becomes a law.

See also



References

Citations



General references

  • Tan, Sumiko (2000) The Singapore Parliament: The House We Built Times Media, Singaporemarker ISBN 981-232-144-6


External links




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