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After 44 years of independence, Singapore enjoyed a reputation of effective, honest and politically stable government. It is probably the only former colony to have independence forced in the world. Singapore reacted to its unanticipated expulsion from Malaysia in August 1965 by pondering economic development and nurturing a sense of nationhood. The country achieved the highest standard of living in Southeast Asia.
The government of Singapore is known for its authoritarian governance and limited tolerance for criticism and opposition. The country had a rare political continuity, from 1959 up to 1988 the ruling party and the prime minister triumphed in every election. During the early 1990s the administration faced the issue of political succession and modifying the relationship between the state and the well educated elite society.
Singapore is a republic state with a legal system based the British system of parliament government. Base on the 1959 the State will be divided into three organs namely- Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. The Executive power rests with the hands of the cabinet, headed by the prime minster and is accountable to Parliament. Legislative branch is the unicameral Parliament led by the prime minister and is responsible for enacting legislation. The Judiciary is being run by the Supreme Court consisting of chief justice and unspecified number of other judges. The chief justice is appointed by the President with the advice of the prime minister, which main function is to protect the constitution.
The head of state of Singapore is the President; the president is duly elected by the people and serves the government for 6 years and can be reelected without limit however can be removed to the office by a two third votes from the Parliament. On the other hand the Prime Minister of the country serves as the head of government of the Republic of Singapore. Prime minister leads the majority party of the parliament and appoints his cabinet among the members of parliament. The president upon the advice of the prime minister appoints a wide range of government official, including the judges, members of advisory boards and councils. There are 84 members of the Parliament elected for five year term.
The government of Singapore plays a major role in managing the society and developing the economy. The public service of the country was regarded as an entirely corruption free, a fact that reflected the importance of the national leadership placed on integrity and dedication to national values. Public officials relatively received higher salary in order to remove the temptations for corruption. The two branches of public service served different function in the political system- the civil service represents institutional continuity and performed fundamental tasks such as collection of revenue, delivery of goods and provisions on educational and medical services while and the different quasigovernmental bodies such as public enterprises, commissions and councils acts for innovation, adaptability and responsiveness to local conditions.
The government of Singapore has statutory boards, autonomous government agencies that played a significant role in the post-independence development strategy which activities usually provided multiple economic and political goals. The boards were managed by board of directors that composed of businessman, professionals, senior civil servants and trade union officials. A member of the Parliament usually served as the chairman of the board of directors.
The Singapore has a number of political parties that play an important role in the country’s politics. The most successful among these parties is the People’s Action Party or PAP. PAP has been the ruling party of Singapore since 1959. Founded in 1954, the PAP is consisted of Chinese-educated and pro-communist trade union leaders, English-educated lawyer, journalist and educators. The PAP advocates believed that social order can only be attained by placing society above self. PAP gained control on the government after winning the crucial 1959 election to the Legislative Assembly, the first election with a mass electorate. In 1963 general election the PAP dominated Singapore’s parliamentary democracy and has been the core of the country’s rapid social, political and economic development. Some of the active parties in Singapore are National Solidarity Party, Singapore Democratic, Party, Worker’s Party and Singapore People’s Party.
In 1965 the country cut its link from Malaysia, after two years of being a member-state of Federation of Malaysia. As a new republic and striving developing country Singapore faces extreme poverty, massive unemployment threatened by communalism and communism, poor health and housing, wide range of illiteracy and exceptionally high rate of population growth. The country being ruled by PAP adopted an authoritarian political style and depoliticized the power structure to achieve its ideology.
Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was the world longest ever serving prime minister. He runs the office since 1959 to 1990, continues to remain as the Asia’s most influential political figures. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his government stressed the importance of maintaining religious tolerance and racial harmony to the country. Declared a policy of neutrality and non-alignment and established strong military relations with other nations around Southeast Asia and non-communist state. During his term Singapore achieved a great economic breakthrough from a developing country to one of richest nations in Asia.
When Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew celebrated his sixty-fifth birthday in October 1988 and marked his thirty years as prime minister in May 1989 an issue of political succession arose. The leaders of the country continue to select people with outmost moral rectitude, good character and can be a team player. Second generation leaders were tested by giving ministerial portfolios and encouraged to mingle with common people. Though the First generation leaders were confident about their ability and integrity to use extensive powers for common good they are not convinced that their successors would be so self-restrained.
Lee Kuan Yew’s son Lee Hsien Loong led the new generation of leaders. Served as brigadier general in the Arm Force, his dominance and his consolidation of administrative and political power supported the political fates of bureaucratics who once served the Military of Defense and the Arm Force.
Singapore’s leaders generally recognize that far-reaching economic and social transformation achieved after independence requires a change in pattern of relations between the government and society. The economic achievement of the country was heavily managed by the government. Government was the largest single employer. Owned and controlled the allocation of capital, labor and land, number of market prices on which investors based their investment decisions, social services and infrastructures. From 1970s to 1980s the government controlled wages through the annual wage guidelines set by the National Wages Council.
Singapore’s highly ordered quality of life had become a political issue. A number of citizens assume that the government is imposing too many laws that were too easy to break. In the early years of the republic, the government had been concern with the physical survival of the country however in 1980s the government ideology changed and started promoting cultural preservation in replaced of physical survival due to the fear of being overrun by foreign cultures.
The senior leaders of the country acknowledged two major threats to the nation: first the failure to reproduce itself and the second is the lost of national identity. The aging nation and steady fall of birth rates alarmed the government. For these reasons the government is now encouraging citizens to marry, reproduce and to create a distinct Singaporean identity. The government thus provides incentives to families to have more children and exert a great effort to promote a Singaporean identity by emphasizing the mastery of Asian languages and defending positive traditional Asian values.