The controversial copyright bill to amend the outdated law has officially been withdrawn by a vote at the Legislative Council, after months of lingering filibuster.

An adjournment of debate motion proposed by People Power lawmaker Ray Chan Chi-chuen was passed on Thursday. Many pro-Beijing camp lawmakers left the chamber when the vote happened as the pan-democratic camp did not ask for a recorded vote, and the latter passed the motion by raising hands.

The bill was delayed by three months of filibustering since last December, which forced the government to agree to move it to the end of the legislative agenda in early March, to speed up the passing of the annual budget plans.

legislative council
File photo: HKFP.

The bill was then moved up again to be debated on Thursday, to be officially removed from the agenda. It will not be debated again during this legislative term which ends in mid-July.

Dubbed “Internet Article 23” by campaigners – a reference to Hong Kong’s ill-fated security law – the copyright amendment bill has faced major opposition from local netizens who fear it may curb internet freedoms.

‘Hurt and disappointed’

Cultural sector lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, a pro-Beijing member who has been supporting the bill, was one of the lawmakers who stayed behind to speak on the motion.

He said that he was “very hurt and disappointed” that pan-democratic lawmakers switched stance from supporting to rejecting the bill when it moved from the bill committee to the Legislative Council whole house meeting.

He added that pan-democrats “ignored the survival of the film industry” and the professional opinion of the Bar Association, “wasted society’s resources” on filibustering and should be condemned.

Claudia Mo. File Photo: HKFP.
Claudia Mo. File Photo: HKFP.

Pan-democrats had said they would accept the bill if their amendments to protect internet freedom were passed.

James Tien Pei-chun, another pro-Beijing camp member, said he was disappointed that the government would rather let the bill be lost than accept amendments from the pan-democrats.

The Civic Party’s Claudia Mo man-ching, who opposed the bill, said the result was “to the great satisfaction of the people”.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.