Constitutional & Legal Foundations
Singapore's constitution provides for a parliamentary democracy on the British pattern. Theoretically, any political party winning a majority in the nation's parliament is entitled to form the government. In reality, Singapore is a single party "democracy," with the PAP in power consistently since 1959. Until 1981 the PAP held all seats in the parliament. During the election in 1981, J.B. Jeyaratnam of the Workers Party shook the government; he was charged him with fraud because of his failure to account for a few hundred dollars in contributions to his party. By the end of the decade, however, the government itself felt the need for healthy opposition. The PAP obtained the parliament's approval to such a measure that the first six parliamentary elections' losers were seated as members of the parliament. This makes Singapore's electoral system unique, since no other electoral system rewards "losers."
Lee Kuan Yew stepped down as Prime Minister in 1984 but has since held the specially-created position of "Senior Minister" of the Cabinet. His advice is regarded as indispensable by the government. In 1985 his son, Brigadier General Lee Hsien Loong, became a cabinet member, and in 1991 he became deputy Prime Minister. Lee's influence in Singapore's politics, both domestic and international and in political and economic matters, has been great since 1959.
Under Singapore's constitution, the responsibility for education lies with the Minister of Education, a member of the Cabinet. The Cabinet makes policy education and submits it to the parliament for approval. The annual budget for education is prepared by the Ministry of Education and included in the overall budget.
Several ordinances and acts have provided the legal basis for certain major initiatives and for the founding of institutions of higher learning. They are the Singapore Polytechnic Ordinance (1954), the Nanyang University Ordinance (1959), the University of Singapore Ordinance (1961), and the Ngee Ann College Act (1967). Also, transferring university education from private to public management are the Ngee Ann Technical College Act (1968), the Institute of Education Act (1973), and the National University of Singapore Act (1980), while the Edu-Save Account Act (1993) and the Open University Act (1994) merged Nanyang University and the University of Singapore.
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