32 Malaya L. Rev. 207 (1990)
The Diceyan Perspective of Supremacy and the Constitution of Singapore

handle is hein.journals/sjls32 and id is 215 raw text is: 32 Mal. L.R.

THE DICEYAN PERSPECTIVE OF SUPREMACY
AND THE CONSTITUTION OF SINGAPORE
The quintessence of the supremacy of the constitution according to Dicey lies
in the constitution (1) being written, (2) being rigid, and (3) providing for
judicial review. This article examines the existence of these criteria in the
constitution of Singapore. As relevant local case law is very limited, an effort
is made to interpret the provisions of the constitution, mostly in the context
of the experience in the working of the pertinent provisions of the constitution
of India and Malaysia, which are germane to the constitution of Singapore.
ARTICLE 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore describes itself
as the supreme law of the land and provides that any post-constitutional'
legislation inconsistent with the constitution, shall to the extent of in-
consistency be void.
The supremacy clause is the keystone of a federal polity without
which the federal structure may collapse. Art. VI of the American Con-
stitution2 incorporating the supremacy clause has been instrumental in
establishing the hegemony of the national government vis-i-vis the State
governments. The Federal Constitution, the laws enacted by Congress,
and Federal treaties, as such prevail over conflicting State Constitutions
and laws.3
However, in a written unitary constitution like Singapore's its de-
scription of itself as the supreme law of the land is without any legal
significance. Paramountcy of the constitution over ordinary legislation
is an attribute of every written constitution. As John Marshall C.J. expounded
in Marbury v. Madison:4
Certainly those who have framed written constitutions contemplate
them as forming the fundamental and paramount law of the nation,
Reprint No. I of 1980 (1985 Rev. Ed.). Art. 156: Subject to the provisions of Part XIV,
this Constitution shall come into operation immediately before 16th September 1963.
2 Excerpt of Art. VI: This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be
made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made under the Authority
of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall
be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the contrary
notwithstanding.
3 See B. Schwartz, A Commentary on the Constitution of the United States: Part I - The
Powers of the Government (1977), Vol. I, pp. 37-74.
4  I Cranch 137 (1803).

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