A Legislative Council meeting on a controversial copyright bill was adjourned on Friday afternoon. The debate will continue on January 6.
The meeting on the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014 began on Wednesday. Dubbed the “Internet Article 23” by campaigners – a reference to Hong Kong’s ill-fated security law – the bill has faced major opposition from local netizens who fear it may curb internet freedoms. Some are concerned the new amendments could make it an offence to live stream game-playing and to screen-capture television programmes or movies.
During the two-and-a-half day meeting, lawmakers requested the quorum bell – which triggers a headcount – 59 times, in an attempt to stall the debate. The meeting was prolonged for over ten hours.
By 1pm on Friday, LegCo president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing told the council that lawmakers would not have to listen to the “haunting bell” for the next two weeks.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung, who is responsible for the bill, said that the government will not withdraw it.
“It takes time to reach a consensus… [lawmakers] should complete the legislation process as soon as possible,” So said.
So also restated that the government would only include the amendments proposed by the pan-democrats – which they claim will better protect the rights of netizens – in the next round of consultation, after the bill is passed.
He thanked lawmakers who were present at the meeting, especially pro-Beijing camp lawmakers, who returned to the chamber in time during the multiple quorum counts in order to avoid the meeting being adjourned.
Debate likely to continue
Cyd Ho urged So to use the period of time before the next meeting to persuade the Hong Kong Copyright Alliance – a copyright owners group which supports the bill – to accept the amendments proposed by the pan-democrats.
When the meeting resumes, lawmakers will continue to debate the adjournment motion.
However, it is unlikely the motion will pass, as it may not receive sufficient support votes. The Liberal Party is set to cast opposition votes on the motion, switching from its previous stance.
Should the motion be rejected, the debate on the bill will start.
Loud bang during meeting
Meanwhile, a glass canopy above a side entrance of the LegCo building tilted and partially collapsed at around 10am on Friday. A loud bang was heard.
Jasper Tsang said preliminary inspections by the Architectural Services Department indicated that there were no structural problems and all activities inside the building would continue.
The affected canopy is next to a construction site of a new footbridge linking the LegCo to CITIC Tower. Tsang added that the incident should not affect the safety of the footbridge.
No-one was injured during the incident.