25 Malaya L. Rev. 351 (1983)
Parliament and the Grundnorm in Singapore

handle is hein.journals/sjls25 and id is 357 raw text is: 25 Mal. L.R.

I wish in this article to deal with some difficult questions of con-
stitutional theory in relation to the evolution of Singapore's constitution.
I hope also in the process to present an exegesis of Singapore's
constitutional history which will provide a basis for further con-
sideration of constitutional matters of a more practical kind. I do
not advance so far as to consider institutions as such, or to consider
the future development of the Constitution. I believe, however, that
after eighteen years of stability under a democratic system of govern-
ment, it is now necessary for Singaporeans to examine their institutions
carefully, especially as the Republic, after progressing from precarious
survival to economic success, will soon be entering a new phase in her
history under new leaders. The Constitution is one of these institutions,
prescribing as it does a democratic, cabinet-style system of government,
on the Westminster model, with safeguards in the form of guarantees
of the observance of fundamental liberties, special protection for the
rights of minorities, and measures to secure the independence of the
judiciary and the civil service. Before the Constitution can be mean-
ingfully discussed, it is necessary to consider the nature and evolution
of the Constitution itself. Most of what is written here may seem to
belong to the realm of high theory, but my intention is to provide a
theory of Singapore's Constitution which is both accurate and appro-
priate, and which also explains the Constitution in terms of autochthony.
Were a new Constitution in the offing, it might have been unnecessary
to embark upon this line of inquiry, but with the publication of a
Reprint of the Constitution in 1980, and the restoration of the two-
thirds majority requirement for a constitutional amendment in 1979,
it would appear that the present Constitution is regarded as adequate
and will remain operative for many years to come.' It is therefore
pertinent to inquire into some fundamental questions concerning the
Constitution, especially when, if the views here advanced are correct,
the fundamental proposition concerning the Constitution, viz., that the
Constitution is supreme law, is misconceived.
It is commonly assumed that in Singapore the Constitution is the
supreme law and that Parliament, unlike its British namesake but like
the United States Congress, can only enact legislation which is consistent
with the Constitution; legislation which is inconsistent with the Con-
stitution is liable to be struck down by the courts. This view is held,
so far as I know, universally. For example Professor Jayakumar
asserted in 1976 that [t]he Constitution embodies the concept of
supremacy of the Constitution,'2 though he conceded that the supremacy
concept was somewhat blurred by the power of the legislature to
1 See S. Jayakumar, The Constitution (Amendment) Act 1979, (1979) 21
Mal. L.R. 111, 117.
2 S. Jayakumar, Constitutional Law, S.L.S. No. 1, p. 1.

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