Rift between Ronny Tong and party widens

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 April, 2012, 12:00am


The rift between Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah and the party he co-founded is widening with his displeasure over its handling of amendments to the copyright ordinance.

It is not the first time the barrister-lawmaker - whose relations with the party have deteriorated since its decision in 2010 to join a campaign to trigger five Legco by-elections in the hope of forcing a de facto referendum on the pace and scope of democratisation - has voiced his dissatisfaction with the party.

Tong denied yesterday that he would quit - but would not completely rule it out, either. 'There is a [Legislative Council] election coming up, and every politician must consider if he is going to run, and what his role will be in future,' Tong said.

He is one of the four members of the Legco bills committee on amendments to the copyright ordinance, and had proposed an amendment that would make parodies criminal only if they caused 'non-trivial' economic loss to the original authors.

Tong's amendment is aimed at reducing the chances of comedians and satirists facing prosecution, as it is usually difficult to prove if a parody causes economic loss.

However, his proposal angered internet users, who accused Tong of supporting the government's bill, which they nicknamed the 'Article 23 of the cyber world', in a reference to the national security legislation. Tong stressed that his proposed revision had been discussed among pan-democrats and was only aimed at 'minimising the evil' if the bill was going to be passed anyway when it was tabled again on May 9.

Tong said yesterday he felt he had been left to bear criticism alone 'in a Cultural Revolution fashion'. 'I think the pan-democrats might have underestimated the public response, and if we have done anything wrong we should bear collective responsibility. It would be unfair for me to face it on my own.'

Tong also attended a meeting with internet user representatives with his Civic Party colleague Tanya Chan, who proposed a revision to exempt all parodies from the bill. 'It would only be a political show,' Tong said. 'I think it is impractical because the government said it will be difficult, and the proposal has not been discussed among us.'

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said yesterday the party was not standing against Tong, and stressed that Chan's proposal was in line with Tong's. 'He is representing us on the bills committee, and we should have said this more clearly.'