Sir Richard Branson has turned down an invitation to take part in a live TV debate on the death penalty in Singapore.

branson said the discussion “can do no service to the complexity of the death penalty” and called Singapore engage in a “constructive and sustainable dialogue involving multiple stakeholders”.

The 72-year-old – a vocal campaigner against capital punishment – was invited by Singapore’s Home Office to a debate which would also cover the national approach to drugs.

The British entrepreneur said he has “tremendous respect” for the country and it is for this reason that he feels “compelled to speak out” when he sees things “going horribly wrong with the use of death penalty by Singapore”.

He was one of many world critics to speak out on the controversial case of malaysian man with learning difficulties who was executed for drug trafficking.

In a blog post about his decision to decline the televised debate, Branson said, “I have decided to decline the invitation. Here’s why: a televised debate – limited in time and scope, always at the risk of giving the priority to personalities rather than problems – cannot do the complexity of the death penalty any service.

“It reduces nuanced speech to sound bites, turns serious debate into spectacle. I can’t imagine that’s what you’re looking for.

“What Singapore really needs is a constructive and sustained dialogue involving multiple stakeholders, and a real commitment to transparency and evidence.”

He said “the conversation needs local voices” and that he was a “global advocate for the abolition of the death penalty” and would “continue to raise the issue wherever I can, as I have been doing it for many years.”

In his Publishhe shared a personal story about his grandfather who was a barrister and then a High Court judge whose “greatest regret in life was putting on the black cap and sentencing people to death”.

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“And he told my father not only that he disagreed with the principle that the state kills people,” he wrote, “he was also sincerely concerned that , in the process, innocent people had been and would be executed. History has proven him right, time and time again.”

Branson added that imposing the death penalty for drug offenses was a “disproportionate and ineffective response to global drug problems.”

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