So, 51.9% to leave the EU, that’s the result of the Brexit referendum. I had been following the debate as a far away onlooker, and as of this morning, I was still thinking that the Remain decision would pervade, when people finally calm down before they cast their vote.
Although the margin is not large, many people, like me, are still caught by surprise. And even though the result of this referendum would have minimum effect on my live (I really hope so), I still wish that the Remain camp had won.
From the perspective of this far away onlooker (a Canadian living in China), this result is very unfortunate. Since WWII, generations and generations of people, with long term vision for a stable and peaceful Europe, had put their weight to form the Union. It’s certainly not perfect (yet), you can complain about the bureaucracy, or that the European parliament is not elected by direct democratic process, or that this EU thingy is a creation of the elite political class, or that free movement is an exploitation of the corporations, or that there are too many immigrants and refugees, etc. But this is better, by a long measure, than the situation in the first half of the 20th century. Building a common system, while trying to satisfy everyone’s wishes, is a long and hard process, especially when this is done by consensus. Other places, in other times, had achieved it only by bloodshed.
I am a bit amazed that, during this referendum, more older generation stand by the Leave camp. I would have thought that they should be the one who knew better. In retrospect, I think I am wrong on this account. The older generation that I was talking about, probably consists of the baby boomers, a generation which had not known the atrocities of the wars either.
Maybe I should provide a bit information on my background to understand my reasoning. I was born in Cambodia, of Chinese parents, lived through the Khmer Rouge regime when we lost 80% of our family, was put in a refugee camp in Vietnam for 8 years, to be finally received by Canada when I was 18. We arrived in Canada, penniless, and as stateless refugees. My parents moved from China to Cambodia as penniless migrants, took many years to build up a prosperous life, and years later, we ended up in Canada, worse off, as penniless refugees.
We didn’t complain, we rolled up our sleeves, and worked very hard, from the very bottom up again.
In the 1990s, I was very happy to see the Berlin wall fall, and that European countries were rapidly merging into one single block with their interests interconnected. And I could only dream of a same scenario for Asia, a scenario that would take many many more years to even be a prospective, if it would ever be at all.
Since then, I have visited many European countries, including France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, etc, and I envy what I see. And every time, I think to myself, I wish I could see the same development of a convergent political system in Asia during my life time. And yet, with one referendum, which is fueled by temporary discontent than calm reasoning, they want to dismantle what took years and years to gradually build up, despite that Great Britain already enjoys special privileges that no other EU members do, such as retaining their monetary unit and measuring unit system, the right to refuse entry, etc.
As we can see, right after the result is published, the right wing faction in different countries are calling their referendum for a Nexit, Frexit, Itexit, or what not. Scotland and North Ireland would certainly want to have their say too. We can only hope that this is just a blip, and that the reaction chain would not be too bad, or that it would not rewind the EU to too far back a stage.
Ah well, who am I to comment on this?