Legco's Tsang slashes number of amendments to copyright bill

December 08, 2015 15:12
Legco President Jasper Tsang (left) accepted only 42 of the 903 amendments put forward by legislator Raymond Wong (right). Photos: HKEJ

Legislative Council President Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has slashed the number of proposed amendments to the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014, approving only 52 items for the second reading of the bill on Wednesday.

Tsang accepted only 42 of the 903 amendments put forward by legislator Raymond Wong Yuk-man, although he denied the move was to fend off filibusters by opposition lawmakers, Ming Pao Daily reported.

Tsang said legislators are entitled to multiple opportunities to speak during the reading process, but stressed that voting should be held by next week so the bill could be ready for third reading in January.

Wong argued that Tsang’s ruling was political and warned that Tsang must accept responsibility should the people storm the Legco building during the reading of the bill.

Luk Koon-yu, spokesperson for the Copyright and Derivative Works Alliance, assailed Tsang for seeking to curb filibusters even before they have taken place.

Luk said Tsang’s action would only provoke greater opposition from the public against the proposed bill.

The concern group said around 2,000 people will hold a rally outside the Legco building on Wednesday night while the reading is in progress. Police have issued a letter of no opposition to the gathering.

Some legislators from the pan-democratic camp would join the filibustering as they noted the public opposition to what they have dubbed “Article 23 for online communications”.

Other lawmakers said they may adopt other means to delay the bill, such as requesting for quorum count and asking to speak during the debate at the stage of the committee of the whole council.

Tsang said he would not stop lawmakers from speaking as long as their requests comply with the Rules of Procedures.

The pan-democrats have filed three amendments to introduce fair use policy, contract override and waiver for user-generated content.

Director of Intellectual Property Ada Leung Ka-lai said it is inappropriate for the three recommendations to be adopted at this stage, as they have not been thoroughly discussed and consulted with the public.

Philip Yung Wai-hung, Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, refused to say if there is a deadline for the passage of the bill, but said he would continue to lobby the legislators for the bill to be passed as soon as possible.

People's Power legislator Raymond Chan Chi-Chuen called on all pan-democrats to work together, noting that dragging the reading of the bill until February would force the government to give in to their proposals.

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