EX­ER­CISE

New Straits Times - - News - The writer views de­vel­op­ments in the na­tion, the re­gion and the wider world from his vantage point in Kuching, Sarawak

bound to leg­is­late or change its pol­icy to con­form with the ref­er­en­dum.”

It is not dif­fi­cult to imag­ine how non-con­struc­tive and un­pro­duc­tive, even counter-pro­duc­tive, a non-bind­ing ref­er­en­dum will be, if al­lowed. It will be, to say the least, highly di­vi­sive.

For­mer Bri­tish prime min­is­ter David Cameron had been roundly crit­i­cised for putting Bri­tons through a ref­er­en­dum with such huge con­se­quen­tial ef­fects, when most or­di­nary Bri­tish vot­ers cared lit­tle and un­der­stood even less what it ac­tu­ally meant for them when vot­ing to leave the Euro­pean Union.

In fact, with Bri­tons now in the throes of an­other gen­eral elec­tion so soon af­ter the last one, in­creas­ing num­bers of Bri­tish vot­ers (as with their coun­ter­parts in much of the West­ern world) are ei­ther fed up with too much of such sup­pos­edly demo­cratic ex­er­cises, or sim­ply with the lack of any real choices vot­ing af­fords them.

Bri­tish vot­ers are now dis­en­chanted that elec­tions seem to make lit­tle dif­fer­ence to what they re­ally care about — their di­min­ish­ing per­sonal prospects and ex­pec­ta­tions in an in­ex­orably di­min­ished coun­try.

Be ab­so­lutely care­ful then about what we wish for, as it may be just as good an ad­vice for Bri­tons (though be­lated) as it is for Sarawakians.

It is per­haps time we all re­think the idea that there is noth­ing that can pos­si­bly be wrong about hav­ing too much democ­racy. So-called “pro­fes­sional” politi­cians may be loathed by some, but they may be as much a nec­es­sary “evil” as lawyers or even doc­tors.

Gov­ern­ing is a hugely com­plex busi­ness and likely to only be­come even more so, go­ing for­ward.

Cit­i­zens-ini­ti­ated elec­toral ex­er­cises, such as those oc­ca­sion­ally de­ployed in Cal­i­for­nia in the United States, work only be­cause they are con­fined to nar­row civic mat­ters, not any­thing as com­plex as Brexit!

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