The debate on the controversial new copyright bill decried as an “Internet Article 23” finally began in the Legislative Council as filibustering by some lawmakers continued to delay discussions on amendments to the bill. Meanwhile, two lawmakers from the pro-democracy camp squabbled over the timing of filibustering efforts.
The bill has faced major opposition from local netizens who worry that using copyrighted works—even if just for personal use and not for profit—could lead to criminal investigation. Opponents to the bill have also raised concerns that new amendments could make it an offence to live stream game-playing and to screen-cap television programmes or movies.
At 9:00am on Thursday, Labour Party lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan moved a motion to adjourn the debate in the LegCo chamber, to allow time for fresh consultations.
Several lawmakers including Ray Chan Chi-chuen, Gary Fan Kwok-wai and “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung requested the quorum bell more than 23 times to ensure that a sufficient number of lawmakers were present in the chamber – a tactic to consume more time on the adjournment debate.
One close call to adjournment occurred on their 11th attempt at around 1:32pm.
After 14 minutes and 53 seconds, lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-san rushed back into the chamber to ensure there were enough members present to continue the meeting. If he had been arrived just seven seconds later, the meeting would have been adjourned due to lack of quorum.
Undersecretary for Commerce and Economic Development Godfrey Leung King-kwok also asked IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok – who was outside the chamber – to return, but walked very slowly, according to Stand News.
Democratic Party lawmakers Albert Ho Chun-yan and Sin Chung-kai were widely criticised on social media as they remained in the chamber, thus maintaining quorum.
‘Democratic Party betrays Hong Kong’
Lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan started an argument with lawmaker Raymond Wong Yuk-man when she made her first-ever attempt to request the quorum bell.
Raymond Wong was criticising Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, whom Wong said had not been interested in reviewing the bill when it was still being discussed in its preliminary bill committee.
Helena Wong then asked for the quorum count, which prevented Raymond Wong from finishing his statement. Clearly unhappy, he shouted at Helena Wong off mic inside the chamber, calling her “rubbish.”
He also said that “the Democratic Party betrays Hong Kong” and asked her, “Didn’t you get enough boos yesterday?”
Emily Lau and Helena Wong back into LegCo with lots of boos and chants against them not joining filibuster. pic.twitter.com/v8wItbBoMt
— Kris Cheng (@krislc) December 16, 2015
In response, Helena Wong said that she was only responding to other lawmakers’ appeals to request the quorum bell.
Lau and Helena Wong were jeered at by protesters during Wednesday night’s rally since their party did not join the filibuster.