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Hong Kong copyright bill

Hong Kong copyright bill: Don't delay vote, warns Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying as opponents threaten freedom of speech protests

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 December, 2015, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 December, 2015, 11:29am

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying warned lawmakers not to use filibustering tactics to delay the Copyright Amendment Bill, saying it "will get you nowhere".

Leung said the bill - scheduled for debate and vote in the Legislative Council on Wednesday - would enhance copyright protection, and exemptions would allow reasonable use of copyright works.

Opponents, mainly internet users, have threatened to stage a mass protest outside the Legco complex. They call the bill the "Article 23 of the cyberworld", referring to the national security clause in the Basic Law that critics fear would curb civil rights and freedoms.

READ MORE: Angry scenes, microphone snatched, police escort for lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung from copyright forum

"We are willing to listen to the opinions of various sectors of society, including those lawmakers who do not support the bill," said Leung. "But staging a filibuster will get you nowhere."

Referring to the Innovation and Technology Bureau, which was held up for three years because of filibustering by pan-democrats, Leung said: "Our work on innovation and technology also lagged behind for three years. At the end of the day, it was passed.

"Foreign officials, entrepreneurs and their chambers of commerce in Hong Kong have been urging us to pass the bill as soon as possible in every meeting [with the government] over the past two years," said Leung.

The government has wanted to update the law in line with international standards since 2006. A bill was introduced in 2011 but the government ditched it a year later after concern it would gag freedom of speech.

Compromise was reached when the government offered "special treatment" for political parodies. But critics remain unconvinced and non-affiliated lawmaker Wong Yuk-man has submitted over 900 amendments in a bid to delay a vote.

Internet groups Keyboard Frontier and the Copyrights and Derivative Alliance have threatened a mass protest outside Legco. Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said he would step up security if needed.

Chris Ng, of Progressive Lawyers Group, said: "The amendments tend to be skewered towards business owners and copyright owners. This bill concerns freedom of expression, which is part of our civil rights."