Chapter 2, Topic 4
2.4 Decision-making in a Representative Democracy
(Representative democracy is a variety of democracy founded on the principle of elected people representing a group of people)
- In representative democracies, representatives in governments are elected by citizens and have the political legitimacy to make decisions on behalf of citizens when there are conflicting interests and demands.
- In the face of conflicting demands, governments make decisions by making laws (rule-making), implementing them (rule execution), and interpreting and applying them (rule adjudication).
- In Singapore, the organs of state, provided by the Constitution, carry out these functions.
- It consists of the President and Parliament.
- The Legislature meets during Parliament sessions to discuss important national issues and make laws.
- Parliament is made up of elected, non-constituency and nominated Members of Parliament (MPs).
- The President’s agreement is required for all Bills passed by Parliament and he may, at his discretion, withhold agreement to certain Bills.
- MPs contribute towards holding the government accountable for the use of the country’s financial resources.
- The General Elections are held about once every five years.
Committee of supply
- Another important role of parliament is to serve as the committee of supply.
- This committee usually sits for seven days or more in March to discuss the estimated expenditure for the coming financial year.
- The committee considers each ministry’s request for funds and votes on it.
- After the committee has voted on the estimates, it reports its decision to the parliament, which will then debate and vote on the amount of money that the government may spend in the coming financial year. This becomes the supply bill for the coming year.
- After the bill is agreed to by the president, the government is authorised to withdraw monies to meet its expenditure as contained in the approved estimates.
- The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, the state courts and the family justice courts. The head of the judiciary is the Chief Justice. Judicial power in Singapore is vested in the Supreme Court and the laws made by the legislature are interpreted and applied by the judiciary.
- In Singapore, the government carries out laws through the cabinet and the ministries supporting the cabinet. Laws passed by the legislature are implemented by respective ministries and enforced by the judiciary. For example, the Singapore parliament passed the compulsory education bill on 9 October 2000 to make it a requirement for every singaporean child to attend a national primary school unless he or she has been exempted.