A Legislative Council meeting on the contentious Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014 was adjourned again on Thursday due to lack of quorum as opposition lawmakers continued their delaying tactics.
Commerce Secretary Gregory So Kam-leung was seen personally inviting legislators to re-enter the meeting room while the quorum bell was on, but his attempts couldn’t prevent the meeting from getting stalled, Ming Pao Daily News reported.
Following the fresh setback for the government, So said it is highly regrettable that the debate was delayed. He did not respond directly when some reporters asked if he would consider withdrawing the controversial bill.
As Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is due to announce his annual policy address next Wednesday, the meeting for the copyright bill can now only resume on January 20 at the earliest.
Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang, meanwhile, said he will meet with representatives from the pan-democratic and pro-establishment camps on Friday to discuss ways to get the debate going again on the Internet-related bill.
Tsang said the government has failed to fully assess the opposing views from within the community and Legislative Council. It is unrealistic to assume that the bill can be passed while ignoring voices outside the LegCo, he said.
At Thursday’s six-hour session, the bell was sounded 16 times calling on lawmakers to enter the meeting room but the numbers didn’t add up.
Legislator Gary Fan Kwok-wai from the Neo Democrats requested a headcount three times within the 15 minutes when fellow lawmaker Regina Ip was making a speech.
Fan left the meeting room after requesting the final quorum bell, and the meeting lapsed as there were only 33 people present, two short of the required number.
The Hong Kong Copyright Alliance, which supports the proposed legislation, said it is extremely frustrated by the bill’s lack of progress in the Legislative Council.
Publishing and other industries will face risks if there are no additional safeguards to protect copyrighted works, it said.
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