Tagged: Constitutional interpretation

Judging the Constitution Conference

Poster.pdfBy Preston Wong & Sri Balan s/o Krishnan

On 28 and 29 May 2015, the NUS Centre for Asian Legal Studies organized a landmark conference titled Judging the Constitution: The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Interpretation in Singapore. This two-day conference saw over 10 constitutional scholars presenting various reflections on the formation, transformation and reformation of Singapore constitutional law. The papers presented at the conference will be published in an edited volume by Routledge Publishing by the end of the year. Continue reading

Conference announcement: Judging the Constitution: The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Interpretation in Singapore

Your public law professors are going to be speaking at a conference on 28 and 29 May 2015. Do register!

Judging the Constitution:
The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Interpretation in Singapore

28 and 29 May 2015

Moot Court

Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore

(Bukit Timah Campus)

The recent increase in the number of constitutional law cases before the Singapore courts signals a shift in the legal and political culture of Singapore. There appears to be an increasing willingness for citizens to challenge the state, and for judges to engage with constitutional ideas and norms in adjudicating between citizens and the state. In light of these developments, this conference brings together constitutional scholars to reflect on evolving judicial approaches to constitutional interpretation in Singapore. Continue reading

Protecting Human Rights: The Approach of the Singapore Courts

Article 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1985 Revised Edition, 1999 Reprint)

Article 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore (1985 Revised Edition, 1999 Reprint). (Photograph by Smuconlaw [CC-BY-SA-4.0], via the Wikimedia Commons.) The Constitution is the supreme law of Singapore, but have the courts unnecessarily limited their role of upholding the Constitution?

Dr Jack Tsen-Ta Lee
Assistant Professor of Law
School of Law, SMU

THE SINGAPORE COURTS have been taking an approach that is very deferential to the political branches of the government – the executive and the legislature. This doesn’t mean that they are deliberately biased in favour of these branches, for example because they have been induced to do so. It means that there is a judicial attitude of giving the political branches much leeway, assuming that action taken by the executive or legislation passed by Parliament is constitutional unless such acts are completely absurd or arbitrary.

This extremely high standard stems from the courts’ view of their role in the constitutional system. I would like to suggest that this view means that the courts have limited their role of upholding the Constitution[1] unnecessarily. Continue reading

The Status of International Human Rights Conventions under Singapore Domestic Law

Jaclyn L Neo
Assistant Professor,
Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore

The High Court today struck out Wee Kim San Lawrence Bernard’s application for judicial review on the basis that the plaintiff had no locus standi. Mr. Wee had argued that the government’s failure to clarify the position that homosexual males are protected from discrimination under Article 12 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore is a violation of his constitutional rights. One of Mr. Wee’s arguments was that the Singapore government’s obligation to provide protections for homosexuals stems from its accession to both the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (“UNCRPD”) and the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW”).

Leaving aside the substantive question of whether the provisions under UNCRPD or CEDAW cover and assist claims for protection against sexual orientation discrimination, the case raises interesting legal question of the status of ratified treaties/conventions under Singapore law. Singapore is a dualist state. This means that ratified treaties/conventions are not part of domestic law until specifically incorporated. This contrasts with monist states, where treaties are self-executing/automatically incorporated; no additional legislative act is required. Continue reading