|First of all, I would like to thank you for voting me
back into LegCo. The clear mandate I was given reaffirms
that I am speaking on behalf of a united accountancy profession.
A united profession is important for many reasons - for
dealing with current public issues, setting the profession's
future goals and lobbying not just the HKSAR Government
but also the PRC authorities to maintain the best possible
long-term practice environment.
Following the September election, I met the HKSAR Council
to share with them my preliminary views on the Chief
Executive's Policy Address. In particular, I discussed:
- investing urgently in improving the profession's
IT skills and knowledge to gain a competitive edge
over other professions;
- lobbying the PRC authorities to remove the many
artificial administrative barriers to the free flow
of professional services from Hong Kong to the Mainland
in the advent of China's entry to the WTO;
- investing in training young accountants to ensure
they are of a higher calibre, with a greater sense
of ethics and enhanced linguistic and communication
- strengthening the Society's self-regulatory role
and keeping the public informed of the Society's work.
In his recent Policy Address, the Chief Executive outlined
the opportunities for the people of Hong Kong under
the title: 'Gearing up for the Knowledge Economy'. This
was made with reference to the telecommunication and
broadcasting markets which have been liberalised.
The Science Park, the Applied Science and Technology
Research Institute and the Cyberport projects are also
well on their way to adding a new dimension to our increasingly
It is of no surprise, therefore, that a heated race
between business enterprises, large and small, is ongoing
to capture the great business opportunities that the
new economy presents. Professionals, like accountants,
play a key role in the policy address.
Not all business may win and there is no guarantee
of a 'prize', even though for a few, there will be prizes,
which will be 'jack-pot' sized. As such, companies must
ensure they do not sit on the fence for too long, or
else they will end up sure losers. The same race is
on for the many professional sectors to build up their
expertise and work out the skills and methods needed
to deliver their services competently.
In my opinion, and in regard to the accountancy profession,
this is much more than a simple make-shift process based
on adapting traditional wisdom and accounting practices.
It should be a drive to create and fill untapped niches
by offering new professional services. Hopefully, more
than just one or two firms, but the accountancy profession
as a whole, will manage to claim a share of this vast
market, where the profession is being recognised as
being experts in the fields.
The role was play in providing assurance to applicants
seeking to become Web certification providers (as stipulated
under the Electronics Transaction Bill), and the WebTrust
service two good cases in point.
The Hong Kong economy has not stopped evolving - from
a fishing village to a trading post, from a fishing
village to a trading post, from a trading post to an
industrial centre, from industrial centre to a large
and efficient service centre. The next important phase
of Hong Kong's evolution is becoming clear: evolving
into a knowledge-based economy which will support China's
entry to the WTO. The Government has recognised this,
as I'm sure the accountancy profession has as well.
But what have we actually done about it?
Soon after the policy address was released, I publicly
appealed to the Government to designate a Government
Policy Secretary to support the development of professional
bodies in Hong Kong. To date, the Government has not
formulated a coherent policy for supporting and promoting
Hong Kong's professionals, either overseas or in the
PRC, and the limited action taken by individual officials
has been sporadic.
The accountancy profession, it would seem, has had
to struggle on its own, leaving the Government to continue
playing the simpler, one-side role, i.e. that of the
I believe it is an opportune time for the HKSA to take
a strong lead in investing in our future. As a profession,
we need much stronger research and technical ability
to be in a position to identify new professional services
that the profession can provide, both locally and beyond.
We need to work on what to say to the Government and
the public so as to get them to assist us as a profession.
We need to translate our visions into goals for the
next generation of accountants through our enhanced
quality training programmes. We need the input of full-time
professional staff to document, present, lobby and help
shape the relevant legislation and policies, rather
than just setting up more 'think-tank' committees. We
will only succeed if, as a profession, we are well organised
in competing for a bigger share of the 'new economy'.
The Chief Executive has placed much importance on the
future role of Hong Kong's professionals. He states:
"Hong Kong has a wealth of high-calibre professionals
who should have a competitive edge in the Mainland market."
I think he is right in saying this, but I am not satisfied
that anything has been done about it. It is up to us
to tell the Government how to promote us as a profession.
And given that we are all competing in a high speed
race of 'winner takes all', there is little time to