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Law of the Land by NLB




The ‘Law of the Land: Highlights of Singapore’s Constitutional Documents’ exhibition traces key moments in Singapore’s seldom-explored constitutional history and outlines Singapore’s evolution from a British settlement in 1819 to an independent nation in 1965.

The exhibition features a curated selection of key constitutional documents from National Archives of Singapore’s (NAS) and the National Library’s collections, some of which have never been seen publicly before. Over 20 key documents will be showcased at the exhibition, with each capturing an important moment in Singapore’s constitutional history.

Housed within the Chief Justice’s Chamber and Office at the National Gallery Singapore’s former Supreme Court wing, the exhibition covers four key themes, tracing the chronological development of Singapore’s constitutional history:

  1. Constituting a Colony (1819 – 1941)

  2. Towards Autonomy and Statehood (1942 – 1959)

  3. Merger & Separation with Malaya (1960 – 1965)

  4. The Sovereign Nation of Singapore (1965 – present)

Some of the highlights of the exhibition include:

Raffles’ local laws and regulation of 1823 which formed the earliest administrative and legal code in British Singapore although it was strictly illegal as Raffles did not have the power to enact laws;

The State of Singapore Constitution in 1958 which was a constitutional milestone for Singapore as it ceased being a British colony and became a self-governing state within the British Commonwealth;

The ‘Points of Merger’ Envelope dated 7 July 1963 – the unique envelope which contained PM Lee Kuan Yew’s handwritten notes on points of agreement following late-night discussions on the merger with Tunku Abdul Rahman;

Tunku Abdul Rahman’s letter to a reluctant Dr Toh Chin Chye, dated 7 Aug 1965, on decision to separate Singapore and Malaysia.

Please see Annex A for the full list of artefacts.

Curator and Docent Tours:

Members of the public can join the free ‘Insight Tours’ led by the exhibition curators on Fridays, as well as tours led by museum docents on Saturdays and Sundays.

  1. Insight Tour: Law of the Land 6.30pm on Fridays Tour Duration: 45 min Conducted in English

Meeting Point: Padang Atrium, Information Counter Level 1

Register at: There are 25 places available on a first come, first served basis

  1. Law of the Land Highlights Tour 2.00pm on Sat & Sun Tour Duration: 45 min Conducted in English

Meeting Point: Registration opens 20 minutes before each tour at the Tours Desk located at B1. There are 20 places available on a first come, first served basis

Exhibition opening hours:

Sunday to Thursday and Public Holidays: 10am to 7pm Friday to Saturday and Eve of Public Holiday: 10am to 10pm


About National Library Board

The National Library Board (NLB) nurtures Readers for Life, Learning Communities and a Knowledgeable Nation. Through the National Library and its network of 26 public libraries, NLB promotes reading, learning and information literacy. By forging strategic partnerships to cultivate knowledge sharing, the libraries also encourage appreciation and awareness of Singapore’s history through their wide range of programmes and collection on Singapore and regional content.

The National Archives of Singapore, an institution of NLB, oversees the collection, preservation and management of public and private archival records, including government files, private memoirs, maps, photographs, oral history interviews and audio-visual materials. NLB also uses innovative technology to provide access to its digital library resources and services, and archival collection. Established on 1 September 1995 as a statutory board, NLB is now under the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).

For more information on NLB, please visit

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