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Volume 450: debated on Thursday 12 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on democracy in Singapore. (92503)

Singapore is a republic with a parliamentary system of government. The Head of State is the President, currently Mr S R Nathan. General elections are held every five years and presidential elections every six years. The People's Action Party have won every general election since 1959 and currently hold 82 of the 84 elected seats in Parliament. The Workers' Party and the Singapore Democratic Alliance hold the other two elected seats. There is a further opposition MP in Parliament from the Workers' Party who was selected as a non-constituency MP (NCMP), as provided for by Singapore law. The Prime Minister of Singapore, currently Mr Lee Hsien Loong, is appointed by the President as the leader of the majority party in Parliament. All other Ministers are also MPs.

The Singapore legal system is similar to the English common law system. A written constitution provides for the separation of the three organs of state (executive, legislative and judiciary) and is the supreme law of Singapore. It also provides for the independence of the Supreme Court judges and enshrines the fundamental rights of the individual. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and freedom of the press but it also permits restrictions on these rights.