After Singapore separated from Malaysia to became a sovereign, democratic and independent nation on 9 August 1965, the Legislative Assembly, which was then the legislative branch of the government, was renamed the Parliament of the Republic of Singapore. The first parliament, comprising 51 members drawn from the Legislative Assembly, convened on 8 December 1965. The first speaker of parliament was A. P. Rajah, who was the former speaker of the Legislative Assembly.
Among the first legislations that were passed by the first parliament were the Republic of Singapore Independence Act and the Constitution (Amendment) Act. These two documents ensured the continuity of all existing laws prior to Singapore’s independence and also adopted some provisions of the Malaysian constitution. These acts, together with the State of Singapore Constitution of 1963, formed a temporary constitution that affirmed Singapore as a sovereign republic while spelling out the country’s legislature framework and the fundamental liberties of its people. The Constitution (Amendment) Act also included a provision that allowed the Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Malay for “Head of State”), Yusof bin Ishak, to become the first president of Singapore.
Examples of bills discussed during parliament included those pertaining to the Second Five-Year Housing Programme, the establishment of the Singapore Army, and the upholding of the government’s multi-racial policy. The fundamentals of Singapore’s foreign policy were also laid out by then Foreign Minister S. Rajaratnam during the first session of parliament.
1. Tan, S. (2000). The Singapore parliament: The house we built (pp.58–59). Singapore: Published for the Parliament of the Republic of Singapore by Times Editions. Call no.: RSING q328.5957 TAN.
2. Yusof charts way ahead and warns of twin dangers. (1965, December 9). The Straits Times, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Yong, J. (1965, December 5). Make-up of parliament. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Rajah to be fulltime speaker. (1965, December 11). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Tan, K. (1999). The Singapore legal system (pp. 47–49). Singapore: Singapore University Press. Call no.: RSING 349.5957 SIN; Passed without debate: S'pore Republic Bill. (1965, December 23). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Yusof to be the first president. (1965, December 15). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Bills, from army to infants, for house. (1965, December 14). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Nathan, S. R. (2011). An unexpected journey: Path to the presidency (pp.291–293). Singapore: Editions Didier Millet. Call no.: RSING 959.5705092 NAT-[HIS].
The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.