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Basic Structure and Supremacy of the Singapore Constitution

The Honourable Senior Judge Chan Sek Keong

(2017) 29 SAcLJ 619

Recent constitutional adjudication in some common law jurisdictions has embraced the basic structure doctrine that was first applied by the Supreme Court of India to the Indian Constitution. This article argues that in principle, the doctrine is or should be applicable to the Constitution of Singapore. If the theory of the doctrine is politically sound, the fact that the Singapore Constitution expressly allows its own provisions to be amended does not necessarily exclude an implied limitation on the exercise of such power. This article also puts forward a historical explanation for the applicability of the doctrine in Singapore. Finally, it argues that the supremacy of the Singapore Constitution supports the applicability of the doctrine.