Prime Minister of Singapore

The prime minister of Singapore is the head of government of the Republic of Singapore. The president appoints the prime minister, a Member of Parliament (MP) who in their opinion, is most likely to command the confidence of the majority of MPs. The incumbent prime minister is Lee Hsien Loong, who took office on 12 August 2004.

Prime Minister of the
Republic of Singapore
Lee Hsien Loong
since 12 August 2004
Government of Singapore
Cabinet of Singapore
Prime Minister's Office
TypeHead of government
ResidenceSri Temasek
AppointerPresident of Singapore
Term length5 years, renewable
Inaugural holderLee Kuan Yew
Formation3 June 1959 (1959-06-03)
DeputyDeputy Prime Minister of Singapore
SalaryS$2,200,000 annually
(including S$192,500 MP salary)

Singapore is modelled after the Westminster system. The prime minister only governs with the confidence of the majority in Parliament; as such, the prime minister typically sits as a Member of Parliament (MP) and leads the largest party or a coalition of parties. In practice, the prime minister is the leader of the political party with the majority number of elected MPs.


The office of Prime Minister succeeded the office of Chief Minister in 1959 after Singapore had attained self-governance from the United Kingdom, as the State of Singapore,[1][2] with Lee Kuan Yew being sworn in as the first prime minister on 5 June 1959.[3]

With respect to Singapore's autonomous status in the Malaysia Agreement, the title of prime minister remained unchanged after Singapore's merger with Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo to form Malaysia in 1963, despite the existence of the prime minister of Malaysia for the entire federation of which Singapore was briefly a part of.[4][5]

Following the independence of Singapore in 1965, the office of Prime Minister was retained, with the president of Singapore becoming a ceremonial head of state. In 1991, amendments to the Constitution of Singapore vested executive powers in the presidency, along with discretionary veto powers over the government.[6] The Constitution also vests "general direction and control of the government" in the Cabinet, with the president almost always bound to act on the advice of the Cabinet or any minister acting under the Cabinet authority. Thus, in practice, most of the actual work of governing is done by the prime minister and Cabinet.[7]

Under Article 26(4)(a) of the Constitution of Singapore, the prime minister may appoint a Cabinet minister, subject to presidential approval, as acting prime minister if the prime minister is on medical leave, away from Singapore or is granted a leave of absence under Article 32 of the Constitution.[8][9] The deputy prime minister or senior minister will usually become the acting prime minister, but any Cabinet minister may be appointed to the role.


Under the Constitution, executive power is nominally vested in the president. However, the president can only exercise that authority on the advice of the Cabinet or a minister acting under general Cabinet authority. Hence, in practice the prime minister, as the Cabinet's leader, does most of the actual work of governing.

The prime minister is responsible for overseeing the overall day-to-day affairs of the government and executing government policy. As leader of the majority party in Parliament, the prime minister is responsible for passing legislation through Parliament.

The prime minister also nominates the speaker of Parliament and leader of the house, who are responsible for arranging government business and organising legislative programmes, usually under the directive of the prime minister and the Cabinet.[10]

The prime minister chooses the other members of the Cabinet by advising the president; the president must exercise their powers in accordance with the advice of the prime minister. The prime minister may change, retain, or revoke any sitting minister's appointment under their prerogative.[11] The prime minister also advises the president on appointments, such as Attorney-General, and Permanent Secretary of a ministry.[12][13]

The prime minister can advise the president for a Proclamation of Emergency; the president issues the proclamation if satisfied.[14]

The prime minister can declare a defence or security measure,[15] and has executive authority over the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) through the Armed Forces Council, which consists of Minister for Defence, Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF), Chief of Defence Force, Chief of Army, Chief of Air Force and Chief of Navy; all of whom are appointed by the president under the prime minister's advice.[16]


Sri Temasek is the official residence of the prime minister, though none of the prime ministers have ever lived there. The Istana is the working office of the prime minister.[17]

The prime minister is protected by the Specialised Security Command of the Singapore Police Force (SPF), who also ensure the protection of the president, Cabinet ministers, and visiting foreign dignitaries.[18]

The annual total salary package the prime minister would receive, including the 13th month bonus, Annual Variable Component and National Bonus, that is twice the MR4 benchmark, stands at S$2.2 million.

As there is no one to decide on the annual performance bonus for the prime minister, the prime minister's bonus will be based only on the National Bonus.[19] The prime minister is also on the Medisave-cum-Subsidised Outpatient (MSO) scheme—where an additional 2% of their gross monthly salary will be credited into their Medisave account.[20]

The prime minister's annual salary was S$3.07 million prior to a salary review in 2011.[21] On 21 May 2011, a committee was set by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, to review the salaries of the prime minister as well as the president, ministers, members of Parliament and other political officeholders.[22] After the recommended wage reductions by the committee were accepted in Parliament, the prime minister's salary was reduced by 36%—including the removal of his pension to S$2.2 million or approximately US$1.7 million at that time.[21]

Nonetheless, the prime minister of Singapore remains the highest-paid political leader in the world.[23]

List of prime ministers

No. Portrait Name
(birth and death)
Election Term of office Political party
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Lee Kuan Yew
MP for Tanjong Pagar SMC (1955–1991)
MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC (1991–2015)
5 June 1959 28 November 1990 31 years, 178 days People's Action Party
The first and longest-serving prime minister of Singapore. His tenure led to the expansion of Singapore's economy from a third world country into a first world country. He introduced the National Service (NS) scheme, with the help of his defence minister Goh Keng Swee, and introduced the "Stop-At-Two" children policy in 1960s, fearing over-expansion of Singapore's population. In the 1980s, he introduced the Graduate Mother Scheme to counter the effects of the previous policy, which received backlash. The policy was withdrawn shortly thereafter. He led the PAP into 8 consecutive election victories. During his tenure, Singapore grew to become the most prosperous nation in South-East Asia.[24]
2 Goh Chok Tong
(b. 1941)
MP for Marine Parade SMC (1976–1988)
MP for Marine Parade GRC (1988–2020)
28 November 1990 12 August 2004 13 years, 258 days People's Action Party
The second prime minister of Singapore. He introduced several major policies and policy institutions, such as Medisave, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP), Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC), Group Representation Constituency (GRC), Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP), the Vehicle Quota Scheme, the Elected President scheme and Singapore 21. During his tenure Singapore experienced several crises, such as the 1997 Asian financial crisis, threats of terrorism, including the 2001 Singapore embassies attack plot by Jemaah Islamiyah, the 2001–2003 economic recession, and the 2003 SARS outbreak. He also introduced the Baby Bonus scheme in a bid to increase birth rates. Prior his appointment as prime minister, he served as Senior Minister of State for Finance, Minister for Trade and Industry, Minister for Health, Minister for Defence and First Deputy Prime Minister.[25]
3 Lee Hsien Loong
(b. 1952)
MP for Teck Ghee SMC (1984–1991)
MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC (1991–present)
12 August 2004 Incumbent 18 years, 173 days People's Action Party
The third prime minister of Singapore and the eldest son of Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister. He introduced the five-day working week for civil servants, with the hope of increasing the birth rate. One of his major accomplishments was to propose the building of two Integrated Resorts (IRs) in Singapore. Singapore hosted the inaugural summer Youth Olympic Games in 2010. He promoted the abolition of school ranking. In 2013, he presided over the worst haze crisis in Singapore's history. He has also dealt with the 2013 Dengue epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020. Prior to his appointment as prime minister, he served as Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Finance, and Minister for Trade and Industry.

See also


  1. Hoe Yeen Nie (2 June 2009). "State of Singapore came into being 50 years ago on 3 June". Channel NewsAsia. Archived from the original on 8 July 2009. Retrieved 3 June 2009.
  2. "Statesmen keep an old date". Singapore Free Press. 18 November 1959. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  3. "The Cabinet to be sworn in today". The Straits Times. 5 June 1959. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  4. "Kuan Yew: Don't let the extremists create more trouble". The Straits Times. 31 July 1964. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  5. "Kuan Yew to open PAP branch". The Straits Times. 20 June 1964. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  6. "The powers of the President". Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  7. "Constitution of the Republic of Singapore: Section 24 Cabinet". Singapore Statutes Online. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  8. Article 26, Clause 4, Section a of the Constitution of Singapore (13 August 2022)
  9. Article 32 of the Constitution of Singapore (13 August 2022)
  10. Rei, Kurohi (20 August 2020). "Tan Chuan-Jin to be nominated Speaker, Indranee to be Leader of the House, when Parliament reopens". Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  11. "Constitution of the Republic of Singapore: Section 25 Appointment of Prime Minister and Ministers". Singapore Statutes Online. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  12. "Constitution of the Republic of Singapore: Section 34 Permanent Secretaries". Singapore Statutes Online. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  13. "Constitution of the Republic of Singapore: Section 35 Attorney-General". Singapore Statutes Online. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  14. "Constitution of the Republic of Singapore: Section 150 Proclamation of Emergency". Singapore Statutes Online. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  15. "Constitution of the Republic of Singapore: Section 151A Defence and security measures". Singapore Statutes Online. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  16. "Singapore Armed Forces Act: Section 8 Establishment of Armed Forces Council". Singapore Statutes Online. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  17. "Frequently Asked Questions". The Istana. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  18. "Leading the Specialised Security Command". Singapore Police Force.
  19. "Ministers received average national bonus of 4.1 months over last 5 years". TODAYonline. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  20. "Do Ministers get free healthcare?". Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  21. "White Paper - Salaries for a Capable and Committed Government". Public Service Division. 10 January 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 May 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  22. "Committee to review salaries of the President, Prime Minister and Political Appointment Holders" (Press release). Prime Minister's Office. 22 May 2011. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  23. Mathew, Jerin (28 March 2015). "Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong remains highest paid country leader with $1.7m annual salary". International Business Times. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  24. "Lee Kuan Yew | prime minister of Singapore". Retrieved 22 September 2018.
  25. "Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong Years in Singapore". NUS Press. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
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