Singapore Relational Constitutionalism: The ‘Living Institution’ and the Project of Religious Harmony

31 Pages Posted: 4 Jun 2019

See all articles by Li-ann Thio

Li-ann Thio

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2019

Abstract

This article interrogates the nature and workings of relational constitutionalism in the multi-religious secular polity of Singapore, focusing on the project of maintaining ‘religious harmony’. While managing inter-group conflict within rifted polities is a global problem, Singapore may have evolved some unique or unusual approaches in this project. Relational constitutionalism as a method of managing religious harmony brings with it a broader vocabulary of purpose beyond rights in speaking of duties, trust, solidarity, a conciliatory rehabilitative ethos, in service of sustainable relationships. This involves the executive prescribing values through non-binding soft constitutional norms, against the constitutional framework. With a view to pluralising the idea of constitutionalism, the article examines the norms, actors and processes deployed to resolve various ‘disharmony crises’. It argues that a public ritual aimed at pacification and promoting solidarity has evolved, and reflects on how constitutions as ‘living institutions’ manage divided societies.

Suggested Citation

Thio, Li-ann, Singapore Relational Constitutionalism: The ‘Living Institution’ and the Project of Religious Harmony (March 1, 2019). Singapore Journal of Legal Studies, Mar 19, pp204-234 (2019), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3398733

Li-ann Thio (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

469G Bukit Timah Road
Eu Tong Sen Building
Singapore, 259776
Singapore

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