Were you just teasing us? Were you never really serious about this issue? Was it just some social media thing that you had to do because you needed a trendy cause to champion? I hope not. I thought you were sincere."
Branson, you see, has been blogging about Singapore’s drug laws.
In his LinkedIn post, Mr Adrian Tan recounted theoriginal Opium Wars in the 19th century where the Chinese government, concerned with opium abuse, enacted tough laws against traffickers – including the death penalty – to protect their own population
The British response at that time was to wage war on China, insisting that ‘their principles of free trade trumped a nation’s right to regulate its own affairs’.
Fast forward to the 21st century. Once again, there is an Asian government, Singapore, enacting tough laws against traffickers, including the death penalty, to protect its own population. Once more, an Englishman, Richard Branson, objects to an Asian country's laws because they don't conform to his principles,
Branson also said that the debate would be limited in scope.
No, it wouldn’t. The scope would be exactly what he’s been talking about: the death penalty in Singapore.,
was Mr Tan's rejoinder.
The third reasongiven by Branson for turning down the debate is a fascinating one. Mr Branson wrote: “What Singapore really needs is a constructive, lasting dialogue involving multiple stakeholders” and “this conversation needs local voices”.
“It’s funny that Branson says that. For the longest time, Singaporeans have been saying the same thing to him. We’ve been telling Branson that he’s not a stakeholder, and he’s not a local voice.
But it’s never stopped Branson from telling Singaporeans what to do. He kept having blogs published under his name, telling Singapore what to do.
It was only when Singapore invited Branson to debate that he suddenly changed his tune. Now, Branson feels that Singaporean stakeholders and local voices should matter more and that foreigners (like him) should not talk.”
Mr Tan concluded, “Maybe, Branson doesn’t want to be tested on his knowledge of theSingapore situation on live TV. It’s surprising because, from reading his blog, you would assume that Branson knows so much about us already.”