LEGISLATORS who voted against a referendum on political reforms last night said a plebiscite would not be binding on the Government or Legco, making it nothing more than a territory-wide public opinion poll. They also questioned which electoral proposals should be put to a referendum: Governor Mr Chris Patten's; Sino-British agreements; or ones put forward by political parties. The motion proposed by United Democrat Mr Szeto Wah called for a referendum to gauge the public's views on the 1994/95 electoral arrangements. Those opposed to the motion thought a referendum would not be conducive to today's Sino-British talks on constitutional reforms. Liberal Party member Mrs Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said her party fully supported a referendum as a mechanism to gauge public opinion. But she said one should be conducted only if China and Britain failed to agree on electoral arrangements. The majority of the community wanted to solve the reform dispute through negotiations and she questioned whether the UDHK was creating new obstacles in asking for a referendum. Her Liberal Party colleague Mr Peter Wong Hong-yuen said a referendum held at this stage would be ''socially divisive'' and would inevitably harm Hongkong's stability. Apart from a number of technical problems that needed to be solved, a territory-wide referendum was too costly, he said. The biggest obstacle was the difficulty in setting the acceptance level of the results, Mr Wong added. Given people's political apathy, public opinion could easily be manipulated by propagandists, he said. Pro-China legislator Mr Tam Yiu-chung said although he was not against the idea of a referendum, everything affecting the latter half of the transition period should be settled through Sino-British negotiations and comply with the Joint Declaration. He said opinion polls conducted since October had shown that public views changed in response to the changing political scene. Mr Tam therefore questioned the fairness of asking the public to decide on the electoral arrangement. Opening the debate, Mr Szeto said to suggest that a call for a referendum was tantamount to advocating independence or semi-independence was just ''alarmist talk''. Mr Szeto noted that the Basic Law Drafting Committee had agreed that the Hongkong Special Administrative Region could hold a referendum to decide whether the fourth legislature in the post-1997 government should be fully directly elected. Although this provision in the Basic Law draft had been deleted in the final Basic Law blueprint, the reason for omitting it was not fears of independence or semi-independence. Mr Szeto also rejected the argument that holding a referendum would divide the community. Dr Leong Che-hung, who supported the motion, said holding a referendum could be seen ''as a test run of fulfilling the over-publicised concepts of 'Hongkong people ruling Hongkong' and 'a high degree of autonomy' ''. He said the grave doubts about whether it would hurt the process of negotiations suggested it would be more appropriate for the Government to hold a referendum after any agreement was tabled in Legco. Mr Frederick Fung Kin-kee said it was difficult for him to support the motion when the binding force of the referendum and its content was unclear. This was despite the fact that his group, the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, believes a referendum should be the mechanism for the public to make a final decision on important matters.