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"Should their role be expanded? Should they
oversee practice review as well? It's a diffi-
cult issue and we need to have some consen-
can't just duck our head and hope the prob-
lem will go away."
Meanwhile, Leung supports continued
engagement with China's accounting profes-
sion. "I think in general [China has] a group
of very good, well-trained accountants and
the numbers have been growing dramati-
cally," he says, adding that the Institute can
help with quality control through more
"It is I think vital to have more opportu-
nities to cooperate with our Chinese coun-
terparts to give them more international
exposure and gear them towards the interna-
tional way of doing business. Our role is to get
them to the global village of compliance."
Recent controversies have highlighted
what Leung sees as the most pressing issue
between Hong Kong and the rest of China:
enforcement. "There is a case where the re-
porting accountants are being asked by the
Securities and Futures Commission to dis-
close certain audit working papers, but due
to confidentiality they claim there is a na-
tional security issue at stake."
Leung believes the SFC will have to work
with regulators in China to find a way for
the information to be disclosed. "We need to
have a common concept of what is -- and what
is not -- confidential information so all these
listed companies will not be forced into see-
ing this as a kind of safe haven whenever they
don't want to disclose something."
Working with lawyers
Leung's role as a lawyer means he is at ease
dealing with regulation and legislation. "I
did my accountancy qualification first, then
I thought it was a good idea to do a conversion
course and become a lawyer," he says.
"When I was in England doing tax work
for a Big Eight firm -- Price Waterhouse as it
was back then -- it was very legalistic," he re-
calls. "Apart from computation, you had to
do a lot of advisory work. It did involve a lot of
reading of cases and European Commission
decisions, and I thought it was a good idea to
combine it with the law."
Leung supports amending Hong Kong
legislation to allow accountants and lawyers
to work together. "In Germany in fact, in my
firm, we have a team of lawyers and a team of
accountants both housed under the one roof.
We do complement each other. It works."
As a tax specialist, Leung has spent a lot
of time looking at how Hong Kong's revenue
system could be improved. He is concerned
by Hong Kong's reliance on real estate trans-
actions: property taxes, stamp duty and prof-
its tax from big property investment compa-
nies and developers.
"If we are less dependent on property-re-
lated income, the crazy property values will
come down," he says. "I don't want property
prices to plummet in a few months, but it will
gradually ease to a plateau level and that's
what I want to see."
One option is a goods and ser vices tax.
"Of course this is a controversial topic," says
Leung, who concedes that he doesn't view
value added tax as a definitive answer. "I
can't say whether it is an absolutely good
idea for Hong Kong. From the experience of
various jurisdictions, it sounds like it's one
of the most feasible ways of broadening the
Leung pauses to look at his watch and
remind himself that he has another appoint-
ment straight after the interview. "Time
management is really important," he says.
"In fact I have a clock in every room at home:
the toilet, the kitchen, the sitting room. Ev-
erywhere I can see a clock. I have cuckoo
clocks, digital clocks, different shapes and
styles. I want to reassure myself I'm not
However, with four years ahead as a legis-
lative councillor, Leung will have to sacrifice
some roles. "I'm also serving on statutory
and advisory boards for the government,
and I will not renew my membership of these
Even Clifford Chance will see less of him.
"I plan to retain about 40 percent of the level
of my practice work," he says. "The other 60
percent will be my LegCo work and that is a
However, Leung has progressive ideas
about work-life balance. "I want to keep my
weekends completely free," he says. "Work-
life balance is the hottest topic among ac-
countants," he notes. "Apart from salaries, of
"Time management is really important. In
fact I have a clock in every room at home:
the toilet, the kitchen, the sitting room.
Everywhere I can see a clock... I want to
reassure myself I'm not missing anything."
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