The Many Facets of Constitutional Dialogue: The Case of Singapore
14 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 6, 2017
The dialogue metaphor has become a central feature in theorising about constitutional law and practice in recent times. Through an emphasis on collaboration and balance of constitutional power between the judicial and political branches of government, dialogists prefer systems where courts initiate a conversation on constitutional issues and the political branches are given the final say. There are now increasing endeavours to extend the application of the dialogue metaphor to common law jurisdictions in Asia, albeit in a distinctively minimalist form. This paper discusses the extension of the theory to Singapore. It critiques the justification offered for the application of the dialogue metaphor to Singapore, including the argument that, in contrast with a system of strong form judicial review, judicial minimalism is desirable to avoid political retaliation against the local courts. The paper analyses recent examples of judicial-political interactions to highlight the absence of such a backlash and the possibility of a stronger role for courts, beyond what dialogists propose for Singapore.
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