The Government

Find out how the Singapore Government works, including the three organs of state - the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. The Prime Minister is the effective head of the Executive branch.
 

Singapore is a sovereign republic. When it became an independent and sovereign nation in 1965, it inherited a legal system that is based on the English law. The legal system has since evolved to meet the needs of Singapore and to reflect the political system within which it operates. In November 1993, the Application of English Law Act came into force. This Act clarifies the application of English law and statutes in Singapore.

The organs of government are provided for by a written constitution which forms the supreme law of Singapore. The Constitution lays down the fundamental principles and basic framework for the three organs of state, namely, the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary. 

The Head of State of Singapore is a President who is directly elected by the people, following fundamental constitutional changes in 1991. The President possesses certain veto powers over the government which he can exercise with discretion in certain circumstances. Outside of those areas where the Constitution permits him discretionary powers, the President must act according to Cabinet advice.

The Executive comprises the Cabinet, which is responsible for the general direction of the Government and accountable to Parliament.

The Legislature comprises the Parliament and is the legislative authority responsible for enacting legislation. More information on the history of Parliament, Parliament House and activities of the House can be obtained from its web site.

The Judiciary's function is to independently administer justice. The Judiciary is safeguarded by the Constitution.

The Prime Minister of Singapore is appointed by the President of Singapore under Article 25 of the Constitution. The President, acting on the advice of the Prime Minister, also appoints other Ministers from among the Members of Parliament.

The Prime Minister is the effective head of the executive branch of government. He chairs the Cabinet, which is constituted under Article 24 of the Constitution. The Cabinet is the central decision-making body of the executive government. It is an organ of state and central to Singapore's system of government. In practice, all significant decisions or actions taken by the Executive are first discussed and collectively agreed by Cabinet.

At present, Cabinet comprises the following members:

Mr Lee Hsien Loong Prime Minister
Mr Teo Chee Hean Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security
Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam     Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies
Mr Khaw Boon Wan  Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport
Mr Lim Hng Kiang Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade)
Mr S Iswaran Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry)
Mr Lim Swee Say Minister for Manpower
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim Minister for Communications and Information
Dr Ng Eng Hen Minister for Defence
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan Minister for Foreign Affairs
Mr K Shanmugam Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law
Mr Gan Kim Yong Minister for Health
Mr Heng Swee Keat Minister for Finance
Ms Grace Fu Hai Yien Minister for Culture, Community and Youth
Mr Chan Chun Sing Minister, Prime Minister's Office
Mr Lawrence Wong Minister for National Development
Mr Masagos Zulkifli  Minister for Environment and Water Resources
Mr Ng Chee Meng Minister for Education (Schools) and Second Minister for Transport
Mr Ong Ye Kung Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) and Second Minister for Defence
Mrs Josephine Teo Minister, Prime Minister's Office
Mr Desmond Lee Minister for Social and Family Development 


As the chairman of the Cabinet, the Prime Minister approves the agenda, leads the meetings and oversees the government's general policy direction. The Prime Minister may also determine the setting up of Cabinet committees from time to time to look into specific subject areas, such as national population policies. The responsibilities of the respective ministers are gazetted in separate Gazette Notifications under the Constitution. The web sites of the ministries provide more information on their specific functions and activities.

More information on the Government can be found on the Singapore Government Online portal