Lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok’s first ever attempt to call for quorum in the Legislative Council on Wednesday resulted in the controversial new copyright bill debate to be adjourned until next week. As not enough lawmakers were able to make it back to the chamber in time, the meeting was postponed until next Wednesday.
Chan called for the quorum bell after Gary Fan Kwok-wai, “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung and Ray Chan Chi-chuen did so in the hope of delaying the start of the debate. When the bell Chan asked for ceased after 15 minutes, only 29 lawmakers were present, including seven pan-democrats and 22 pro-Beijing camp lawmakers. It was fewer than the required 35.
Chan said that pro-Beijing camp lawmakers may also have wanted to buy time and create room for maneuver, as they actually had enough people to make a quorum to allow the meeting to carry on. He noticed, however, that many of them refused to come into the chamber.
“My reading of this very peculiar situation is that even the pro-government lawmakers today felt unprepared to bulldoze this – the Internet Article 23,” Chan said.
He urged the government to suspend the bill as it did not provide enough protection for netizens.
The meeting started at 11am and was adjourned at 1:13pm. One hour and five minutes was spent waiting for lawmakers to come back to the chamber – about half of the total time of the meeting.
LegCo president Jasper Tsang said that he heard from some lawmakers that it was a tactic to ask for a quorum count.
“As LegCo president, I will not comment on lawmakers’ so-called tactic, and will not lay the blame on anyone. But I hope lawmakers can remember that it is their responsibility to attend meetings,” Tsang said.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Gregory So Kam-leung said that the government will use the week before the meeting next Wednesday to explain the bill to citizens, as many Hongkongers still misunderstand it.
He said that the government has worked on the bill for a long time and has invited netizens to meet more than 20 times over the last two years.
“This final product that we have on the table is actually a balancing act,” So said.
So added that the government is ready to look at issues, such as user generated content, “fair use”, and “contract override” – which netizens and the pan-democrats have asked for – after the bill is passed. He said there lacks consensus among the public on the issues.
Absent lawmakers included:
Pro-democracy camp (19)
- Democratic Party: Albert Ho Chun-yan, Emily Lau Wai-hing, Wu Chi-wai and Helena Wong Pik-wan
- Civic Party: Alan Leong Kah-kit, Claudia Mo Man-ching and Dennis Kwok Wing-hang
- Labour Party: Lee Cheuk-yan, Cyd Ho Sau-lan, Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, and Peter Cheung Kwok-che
- People Power:: Ray Chan Chi-chuen and Albert Chan Wai-yip
- League of Social Democrats: Leung Kwok-hung
- Neo Democrats: Gary Fan Kwok-wai
- Others: Raymond Wong Yuk-man, Joseph Lee Kok-long, Kenneth Leung Kai-cheong and Ip Kin-yuen
Pro-Beijing camp (21)
- DAB: Chan Kam-lam, Gary Chan Hak-kan, Ip Kwok-him, Ann Chiang Lai-wan, and Christopher Chung Shu-kan
- BPA: Abraham Shek Lai-him, Lau Wong-fat, Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, Priscilla Leung Mei-fun and Christopher Cheung Wah-fung
- Liberal Party: Vincent Fang Kang, Tommy Cheung Yu-yan, James Tien Pei-chun and Felix Chung Kwok-pan
- New People’s Party: Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Michael Tien Puk-sun
- FTU: Chan Yuen-han
- Others: Martin Liao Cheung-kong, Ma Fung-kwok, Lam Tai-fai and Leung Ka-lau