1995 - The LegCo Report 立法局記事
Time is precious, particularly for busy Accountants. I respect this golden rule and would avoid a long-winded monologue.
To reflect on four action packed years in LegCo in a simple record is quite a challenge. But then quotes, figures and lists of factual information would probably tell a better story than a thousand words. I sincerely hope that this report “speaks” of a diligent and committed professional trying hard to serve you, his fellow Accountants, and Hong Kong.
Please vote for ‘Eric Li Ka-cheung’ on Sunday, 17 September and return all those experience and goodwill to the Legislative Council. I shall remain, devotedly, at your service.
LEGCO IN FACTS & FIGURES
LEGCO FACTS & FIGURES
Note: * Left for Beijing on official trips representing HKSA as President (1994) and Vice President (1993) respectively. Signed the historic Memorandum of Co-operation with CICPA on the 1994 trip.
# Left for Davos, Switzerland to receive the Award of "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" from the World Economic Forum.
LEGCO QUESTIONS RAISED
According to Express News (24.7.95) and Apple Daily (25.7.95), Eric ranked 4th & 5th respectively in diligence, out of 56 Legislators, in terms of the number of questions raised. In addition, I have asked the Governor 7 questions (highest record is 8 questions) during Governor's Question time and another 11 supplementary questions following up on oral questions by other LegCo members.
MEMBERSHIP OF COMMITTEES, WORKING GROUPS AND PANELS
(details on pages 2 & 3)
(Lobbying at work)
Politics is an art: The art of persuasion, of making reasonable compromise and above all, the art of reaching the impossible goals. The following achievements were examples of collective efforts made by me and others, with the HKSA playing a central role.
1. Bills on Incorpopration of CPA practices
I successfully persuaded the Government to advance the Bill for passage in LegCo during the 1994-95 session. I spent more than a month liaising with HKSA to provide explanations and information to many Legislators, either as individuals or respresentatives of political parties, as well as the legal adviser of LegCo. The relevant Bill was duly passed without opposition and the need for a Bills committee on 27.7.1995, the last sitting of the recently dissolved LegCo.
2. Service Companies
I strongly opposed the suggestion made by the Financial Secretary in his 1994 Budget Speech that the use of service companies by professionals was a method for tax evasion. The threat of legislation has now been withdrawn and the Inland Revenue Department will recognize the existing practices and seek only to regulate the use of this type of service companies by departmental interpretation & practice notes.
3. Professional Accountants (Amendment) Bill 1994
As President of HKSA in 1994, I explained the spirit and substance of the Bill to Legislators and helped to secure its smooth passage without opposition.
4. Airport Authority Bill
I persuaded the Government to introduce an amendment to state clearly that the auditor of the Airport Authority must be a Professional Accountant in accordance with a representation made by the HKSA. The Government has also officially recognised the importance of Corporate Governance in a speech made by the Secretary of Economic Services in LegCo at my prompting.
5. Companies (Amendment) Bill 1995
I successfully lobbied the Government to agree to the use of bilingual forms only for filing returns with the company Registry in future to comply with the representation made by HKSA.
6. Stock Exchanges Unification (Amendment) Bill
I successfully persuaded the Government to limit the scope of this legislation and to avoid any doubt that the SFC may directly discipline auditors of listed companies on standards and guidelines promulgated by HKSA. An exchange of letters to preserve the autonomy of HKSA is now in place instead of legislation.
7. Monetary Authorities
I suggested and had subsequently paired the HKSA with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to jointly study the need for tax incentives in the financial sectors to curb the outflow of investments.
8. University Grant Committee (UGC)
I made strong representation to UGC for more resources to be set aside for accountancy degree courses. I shall continue these efforts.
WORD POWER IN POLITICS
(Hansard record : translated from Chinese speeches)
“I have come to a compromise with … the Liberal Party and devised a 1994 package … during these two months I have witnessed all sorts of restraints imposed by the Government on the Legislative Council, the community’s tiredness of the political row, the anxiety of the industrial and commercial sectors as well as the analysis that the 1994 compromise package may reduce the shock. I, just like the other 55 non-official Members of this Council, think that the Government’s 1992 package is not the most responsible and best choice”.
2nd Reading Debate: Bill on political reform, 29.6.1994
“Hong Kong people’s views on political reform have in this year been divided by China and the United Kingdom … The vast majority of the people of Hong Kong actually do not like to see either China or the United Kingdom gaining the upper hand. I believe that what they want the most is a Sino-British agreement as a result of a process in which there is neither winner nor martyr”.
Motion Debate on Sino-British Talks, 26.5.1993
“I think that a responsible way is to send a clear signal to the British Hong Kong Administration that convergence is still an extremely important goal … It should give serious consideration to any counter-demand from China and then come back to this Council to put forth its well-considered proposals for our endorsement”.
Motion Debate on Political Development, 11.11.1992
“Since both of the major camps (politicalparties) have an equal number of seats … there is no question of one being able to prevail over the other. They will have to take a pragmatic approach in terms of convincing their colleagues with argument and in the process, the official members and the independents will be in a position to play the role of a moderator”
Motion Debate on Exco / Legco relationship, 1.7.1992
“Caught in the ‘crack’ created by poor Sino-British relation, there is little scope for the people of Hong Kong to hold destiny in our own hands. The loyal and excellent civil servants are the most valuable asset left to help us ensure a limited degree of smooth transition beyond 1997”.
Response to Governor’s Policy Address (1994), 20.10.1994
“Members of this Council must not encourage mistrust of the Government process. The imposition of unreasonable constraints on the exercise of Government authority will reduce efficiency, increase costs to taxpayer and distort established priorities. I believe that the people of Hong Kong only expect us to be watchdogs and not bloodhounds”.
Response to Governor’s Policy Address (1991), 31.10.1991
Business and Taxation
“Businessmen in most countries are minority voters. However, the business sector is the life-line of the economy and to protect the interests of businessmen is, in effect, indirectly protecting the economy itself”.
Response to Governor’s Policy Address (1994), 20.10.1994
“The business community is … the all important sector to always keep in mind. It need constant protection by a conscious policy to maintain the lowest possible tax rate. No matter how powerful politicians may have become, they will never be powerful enough to take over the job of the businessmen. Politicians are simply not apt to create wealth and to pay our wages and bills. The harsh reality is that politics which stand at odds with the business community will always succumb after bringing the economy down”.
“In the realms of finance and taxation, there is great virtue in certainty and stability of policy. We must not leave the Government to plan in fear”.
Motion Debate on Review of Tax System, 26.3.1992
“The Inland Revenue Department has on some occasions resorted to applying the existing rules and laws aggressively in a zealous attempt to protect revenue. These moves have created some confusion and uncertainty in the present simple tax regime”.
Motion Debate on Tax System, 19.2.1992
“I want the Government to clarify that making tax avoidance arrangements is not an offence and that professional people do not have any special “privilege” in this regard … no ‘unsubstantiated allegations’ should be made groundlessly against a vast number of people who are lawfully using limited companies to provide professional services”.
Response to Budget Speech, 24.3.1994
“I suggest that Government should make public, and to the Chinese side, the data and methodology used to compile this year’s medium term forecast. It should also invite the Chinese side to take part in the compilation of the medium term forecast for the 1996-97 Budget. This will offer an opportunity for the Chinese to appreciate in advance the macro view of Hong Kong’s future economic outlook and the substantive differences in Budgetary approach between our ‘free market economy’ and their ‘planned economy’. When China negotiates with the British on issues like land sales and the financial arrangements for the airport-railway link projects, they would know first hand that any delay in Sino-British talks may have a significant adverse effect on Hong Kong’s economy in the medium long term”.
Response to Budget speech, 23.3.1995
ADVISERS SHOW SUPPORT
“A clearly committed professional, Eric fully understands the needs
of the business and financial sectors. His independence of mind, honest
opinions, and objective and balanced views are highly regarded by other
Legislative Council members from all political affiliations. If accountants
in the business and financial sectors wish to have a dependable and
attentive friend in Legco, Eric is a rational choice.”
“Eric has demonstrated a high degree of professionalism and sound
political acumen during his four years of service in the Legislative
Council. As President of HKSA last year, he played a prominent role
in promoting the accountancy profession. Eric is an effective and respected
communicator. His track record in lobbying on behalf of the profession
in respect of various important legislation such as the bills on incorporation
of CPAs, amendments to the Professional Accountants Ordinance and taxation
on service companies demonstrates that he is the most suitable person
to represent our profession in the Legislative Council in the next term.
He is our best choice.”
“I know Eric deeply cares about people, his friends and family.
As a close friend of his both personally and in the rehabilitation field
for more than ten years, Eric impress me as a very genuine and sincere
person totally committed to make Hong Kong a better place for all. His
years of dedicated and selfless community services speak louder than
words. Eric is my rational choice for the Legco representative as a
caring accountant with an impeccable reputation in the
“Eric and I are third generation Hong Kong Accountants. Many of our father’s friends were Accountants and they had watched us grow with the world of accountancy.
As the elder brother, Eric sets an example for me in paying respect to our seniors. He keeps the good Accountant’s traditions of prudence, honesty and resolve. Once Eric makes a commitment, I know that he will try his level best to honour it.
It does not surprise me at all that Eric feels so committed to serve
the accountancy profession with our upbringing. He can also count on
me absolutely, to support him all the way until he has fulfilled his
“I intend to vote for Eric Li Ka-cheung whom I have known for a number of years and whose contribution in three specific areas in the past leaves me to believe that he will be a valuable member of the Legislative Council.
1. The accountancy profession should have a sound voice in Legislative Council. Through his time with the Council and as President of Hong Kong Society of Accountants he has shown himself to be a very suitable person to voice the interests of accountants in the Legislative Council.
2. During the whole process of the Democratic debate over recent years Eric’s role, contributions and personal bearing were an example for Hong Kong and its community.
3. His long history of contribution in various
areas of social welfare is known. Hong Kong needs it.
His experience and voice in this area will be a help in the Legislative
“Eric is a man of words, and a man of deeds.
I have known Eric since he was a young Accountant working for his father. He usually calls me uncle S.H. It is not difficult to observe when working with him that he often thinks, plans and acts before he speaks.
Eric is articulate with words, but his deeds give even stronger
testimony to his achievements. Please trust him as I do and vote for
“Eric Li Ka-cheung” on 17th September.”
ADVISERS HAVE A SAY
I take honest advice to heart. Most people in this group of well known Accountants have given me invaluable advice over the years. Some new friends are joining to ensure that the broadest possible spectrum of views can be gauged. They have all given me, in their personal capacity, staunch support by agreeing to regularly advise me on my Legco work, if I am elected. If you know any of the above advisers, please speak to them and will be happy to give you their honest opinion about my candidacy.
PARTICIPATION IN HKSA
ERIC ON RECORD (WITH HKSA)
“While our vision must be set far and wide, the immediate focus must be to court a rational relationship with China. To get it right, we must be proactive rather than reactive … We need to actively promote the profession to officials and the business community in China and to show them what instrumental parts we play in a free market economy.”
President’s Message, The Hong Kong Accountant, Jan/Feb 1994
“We would also like to see high standards, similar to those in Hong Kong, emerging among our Chinese counterparts in professional practice, in ethics and in status. The greater harmony we can achieve in standards and in practices, will mean greater unity and mutual strength in competing in the world economy. I believe that this is an important message to impress upon the Chinese authorities, particularly those taking part in the formulation of economic and financial policies.”
“I believe we should welcome mutual recognition as a desirable ultimate goal. However, it is equally important for us to recognize the fact that standards and practices in China and Hong Kong are not similar at this point in time. The lengthy process of harmonization will take time and will be achieved in stages. It requires patience, open access to information, mutual understanding and respect, as well as requiring possible significant adjustments to be made on both sides.”
President’s Statement, (dated 18.10.1994), HKSA Annual Report 1994
“We visited the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office. Among other things, we are encouraged by their assurance that China would not like to see their accountants coming over to the Special Administrative Region in great numbers and overwhelm the job market here.”
“Our delegation to China in late November saw the signing of the Memorandum of Co-operation with the Chinese Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CICPA), defining the objectives and scope of co-operation between the two bodies, which focused on communication, training and harmonization of professional standards and practices.”
President’s Speech at 22nd AGM of HKSA, 16.11.1994
“The intense planning that has gone on in the last few months to prepare for our own independent examination and professional accreditation will reshape the future of our profession. For those closely involved, it has almost felt like a rebirth. These changes … are vital to us if we are to maintain the integrity and international reputation as an autonomous professional body.”
President’s Message, HK Accountant Nov/Dec 94
“Academics in Hong Kong have … not only helped prepare the next generation of accountants by providing quality training and education, but also they have played a major role in developing the body of knowledge encompassing the accountancy profession.”
President’s Message, HK Accountant May/June 94
“I will call upon the staunch support of our educational institutions, and we will certainly work closely with our well regarded academics in the coming years because they have a crucial role to play in shaping the future of the profession.”
President’s Statement, (18.10.1994), HKSA Annual Report
“A strong message will have to be put across to the educational authorities soon to request an increase in resources for the training of accountancy students.”
President’s Message, HK Accountant Sept/Oct 1994
“High on my agenda as President has been to take the opportunity of meeting members. Apart from attending an almost countless number of public functions, I have particularly enjoyed the monthly informal sandwich lunch gatherings in the Society’s conference room … They have proved to be an excellent forum at which I can listen to members freely express their expectations … It is this kind of uninhibited two-way dialogue that keeps me, and the council, on track in our bid to serve you.”
President’s Statement (18.10.1994), HKSA Annual Report
“When something goes wrong, people are very quick to blame the accounting profession for the problem. It’s usually not a fair or accurate charge. We have to tell them that when a crime is committed, you don’t sue the police.”
“Shattering Stereotype” interview by Hong Kong Business, December 1993
I. Serve all Accountants
II. Serve Accountants in Professional Practice
III. Serve Accountants in Public Service
IV. Serve Accountants in Business
V. Serve Accountants in Education
VII. Participation in Wider Community
VIII. Further Pledge