Richard Branson invited to Singapore debate after criticising country’s death penalty

After criticising Singapore’s death penalty, British billionaire Richard Branson has been invited to a live, televised debate in the country. Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs clapped back at Branson’s criticisms saying he made false assertions in his recent blog post about the country’s drug policies and the death penalty. K Shanmugam, Singapore’s minister would be debating with Branson if he accepts the offer for a debate.

Branson has been vocal about his views against the country’s death penalty for crimes like drug trafficking, with his most recent criticisms published in a blog post on October 10. Earlier this year, he spoke out against the execution of drug trafficker Nagaenthran Dharmalingam. According to Channel News Asia, the MHA says Branson made false assertions about the alleged treatment of defence lawyers in the case as well as alleged racial bias. The ministry then reiterated the government’s stance on drugs, saying that the capital sentence has had a clear effect on drug traffickers in Singapore.

“Our priority is to protect Singapore and Singaporeans from the scourge of drugs. We take a comprehensive harm prevention approach, which includes the use of the death penalty for traffickers who traffic large amounts of drugs and seek to profit from destroying other people’s lives and livelihoods.”

But Branson cited Nagaenthran’s “well-documented intellectual disability,” and criticised the Singaporean government for carrying out the death penalty on a person with intellectual disabilities.

The ministry, however, says that the man did not have a disability.

“We have clarified on several occasions that this is untrue. The Singapore Courts held that Nagaenthran knew what he was doing and that he was not intellectually disabled. Mr Branson also suggests that Singapore had breached our international commitments to protect people with disabilities by carrying out capital punishment on Nagaenthran. This too is untrue, as Nagaenthran was not intellectually disabled.”

“These opinions may be widely held in the UK, but we do not accept that Mr Branson or others in the West are entitled to impose their values on other societies. Nor do we believe that a country that prosecuted two wars in China in the 19th century to force the Chinese to accept opium imports has any moral right to lecture Asians on drugs.”

The MHA says Branson’s flight and accommodation will be paid for if he chooses to attend the live debate. There is no word yet on whether Branson has accepted the invitation.

World News

Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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