Now that election season is over, the campaign posters have been taken down, and life is (kinda) back to normal, what we can look forward to is the formation of the Cabinet (and the Hari Raya Haji holiday next week).
It’s strange, but you’d be surprised at how little the average Singaporean knows about what the Cabinet actually is, much less how it operates or is put together — a quick check with family and friends confirmed this. So ahead of the unveiling of the new Cabinet — which is set to be announced in just under two weeks — here’s a simplified, condensed version of what you need to know about the Cabinet.
What is the Cabinet?
The Cabinet is made up of elected Members of Parliament (which is why we were told repeatedly to vote wisely for the past two weeks). Together, they hold the following positions:
- Prime Minister
- Deputy Prime Ministers
- Minister for Communications and Information
- Minister for Culture, Community and Youth
- Minister for Defence
- Minister for Education
- Minister for the Environment and Water Resources
- Minister for Finance
- Minister for Foreign Affairs
- Minister for Health
- Minister for Home Affairs
- Minister for Law
- Minister for Manpower
- Minister for National Development
- Minister for Social and Family Development
- Minister for Trade and Industry
- Minister for Transport
(Source: Parliament of Singapore)
Of course, Members of Parliament consist of more than just the ones that we elected. They include non-constituency and nominated Members as well, though these groups of MPs are not involved in the formation of the Cabinet.
According to the website of the Prime Minister’s Office, “the Cabinet is responsible for all government policies and the day-to-day administration of the affairs of the state…and is collectively responsible to the Parliament.”
How are Members of Cabinet selected?
To understand how the Cabinet is formed, it’s first necessary to know that the Prime Minister is appointed by the President of Singapore. This decision is made based on one important factor (amongst others, presumably): the appointed Prime Minister is someone “who commands the confidence of the majority of the Members of Parliament.”
Subsequently, the Prime Minister has the authority to advise the President regarding his appointment of other ministers from amongst the elected MPs. This means that the responsibility of forming the Cabinet lies largely on the shoulders of the President — which, incidentally, is also someone we take to the polls to decide.
Feeling powerful yet?