The Legislative Council resumed its debate on the controversial Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014 on Wednesday. However, pan-democrat lawmakers continued their filibuster in the hope of delaying proceedings.
The meeting on the bill began in December last year. 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.
Lawmakers are still discussing whether to adjourn the debate motion. Actual amendments to the bill have yet to be debated.
Pan-democrat lawmakers including “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, Ray Chan Chi-chuen, Albert Chan Wai-yip and Gary Fan Kwok-wai have requested the quorum bell – which triggers a headcount – 24 times, in an attempt to stall the debate.
During the meeting, pro-Beijing camp lawmakers Michael Tien Puk-sun, Tang Ka-piu and Starry Lee Wai-king have also spoken. All of them criticised pan-democrat lawmakers for constantly waging filibusters.
When Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan was speaking at around 3pm, People Power’s Albert Chan stood up and interrupted her speech saying: “I heard lawmaker Helena Wong talking about the quorum bell, let me demonstrate it,” before requesting the quorum bell.
At around 5:40pm, after an adequate number of lawmakers were in the chamber, Starry Lee completed her speech. At that moment, there were no pan-democrat lawmakers present.
LegCo president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing asked the chamber if anyone was going to speak. Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung, who is responsible for the bill, was then invited to speak, but Democratic Party lawmaker Sin Chung-kai rushed back into the chamber, and requested the floor.
Sin was ultimately allowed to speak, though he apologised to Tsang saying that he was almost inside the chamber, when Tsang asked the commerce minister to speak. Several pro-Beijing camp lawmakers were unhappy about the incident, questioning whether Sin should be allowed to speak at all.
Albert Chan said that every lawmaker supporting the copyright bill was a “slave” and that “they are sick”.
Jasper Tsang said that the statement was “improper”. Chan, in response, said that it is common to use analogies in parliamentary speeches, including at Westminster.
Gregory So reiterated the government’s position that the new copyright bill will provide more protections to netizens and that the bill has received support from members of the legal sector, such as chairman of the Bar Association Winnie Tam and former lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah.
“This is the moment that Hong Kong must choose,” he said in support of the bill. “We are ready now.”
The meeting was adjourned at 8:04pm. On Thursday, lawmakers will vote on the adjournment of the debate motion.