Thursday, January 07, 2016
The controversial Copyright Amendment Bill is still marking time in the Legislative Council in the face of procedural roadblocks.
Legislators resumed a second reading debate after the festive break, but it was snagged by 25 quorum counts, which accounted for four hours and 48 minutes of business time.
The meeting was adjourned at 8pm, and more of the same is expected when it resumes at 9am today.
A motion to adjourn the debate by the Labour Party’s Cyd Ho Sau-lan may also be voted on.
The debate restarted yesterday with Ma Fung- kwok of the sports, performing arts, culture and publications sector calling for the bill to be approved.
Ma said further delays risked harm to the movie, television, comics and music sectors from copyright infringement, so he did not want fellow legislators turning once again to filibusters.
As for three amendments proposed by pan-democrats, Ma said those in the sectors have reservations about them and they should not be adopted without prior consultation.
In fact, he said, professionals would prefer to see the bill dropped rather than accept the three amendments, which concern more protection for netizens under a US fair-use model and a Canadian model that exempts works by fans from copyright rules.
But then legislators went back to debating the motion to adjourn advanced by Ho before the break.
Democrat Helena Wong Pik-wan, supporting the motion, said many people still did not know how the amendment bill would impact on internet use if it was passed.
Although the administration engaged with some netizen groups during the consultation period, Wong added, there was limited public airing about the bill.
New People’s Party legislator Michael Tien Puk- sun opposed the adjournment motion and labeled it filibustering in disguise. Tien said he would support any administration move to retract the bill, but passing the motion to adjourn would give the wrong impression that this is not the right time to pass it.
Democrat Sin Chung-kai then just managed to stop an attempt by Starry Lee Wai-king of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong to cut short the debate by demanding lawmakers vote on the Ho motion.
At that time there were no pan-democrats in the chamber, but Sin rushed in and asked to speak.
It all restarts today with no firm pointers about when legislators might be able to vote on the amendment bill itself.