Home' A Plus Magazine : June 2013 Contents Institute at 40
OUR MAN ON
From the earliest days, the Hong Kong government often contacted
senior accounting figures, both formally and informally, for
assistance and advice on legislative and policy matters.
Since its establishment in 1973, the Hong Kong Society of
Accountants had sought to exercise its collective expertise and
experience to assist and influence government policies and
legislation in the regulation of business.
The government had appointed many senior accountants to the
Legislative Council. For example, Peter Poon (Society president in
1975-76) and Thomas Clydesdale (president in 1982), both served
with distinction in the 1980s.
The concept of creating so-called “functional” legislative
constituencies – a member elected by his or her professional
peers – was first announced in 1984 after a government report was
The Society had concluded that in addition to its external
lobbying, it would be even more effective if it had a member from
its ranks as a Legislative Councillor, and eagerly sought a functional
constituency of its own.
Released at the end of that year, the White Paper on The
Further Development of Representative Government in Hong Kong
recommended allocating 12 seats to various professional interest
groups. One of the seats was allocated to the finance sector,
although not specifically for accountants.
Then Chief Secretary Sir Philip Haddon-Cave said the government
had received representations from many organizations, including
the Society, pleading their cases for a constituency seat of their own.
“These claims have been carefully
considered but, for a variety of...
good reasons, it has not been
possible to accept them, at any
rate at this stage,” he told LegCo in
The accountants in LegCo
were not satisfied. “I must stress
that one profession significantly
missing in the named functional
constituencies is the accountancy
profession,” Poon told the
“I must express my regret for
their omission and the government
should review this as soon as
possible,” added Kim Cham, a
Society member and businessman
who would later serve as
chairman of the Hong Kong
The accountants received
support from other organizations,
which were also denied a
constituency. “I respectfully and
boldly submit, therefore, that one
seat should be added for the Heung Yee Kuk... and another for the
accountants,” Cheung Yan-lung, a New Territories businessman and
chairman of Heung Yee Kuk told LegCo. He said the two additions
would raise the chamber size to 58. “In Chinese tradition, 56 is not a
particularly lucky number,” he said.
Despite this initial rejection, the battle was far from over. A
Green Paper, The 1987 Review of Developments in Representative
Government, published in May 1987, recommended expansion of
the functional constituencies.
“Since 1985, it has been evident that members representing
functional constituencies have made valuable contributions," Peter
Poon told LegCo. “The Hong Kong Society of Accountants has a
membership of over 3,000. Its members serve in public practice,
commerce and industry, higher education and the government
He added that the accounting profession fulfilled all the criteria for
new functional constituencies listed in the Green Paper: (a) substantial
and of importance to the community, (b) clearly defined, (c) not based
on ideology, dogma or religion, (d) not represented elsewhere. “I feel
that the non-inclusion of accountants in 1985 was a glaring omission
which should be remedied,” Poon concluded.
Supported by some non-accountants – Poon Chung-kwong,
dean of the faculty of science at the University of Hong Kong, said
an accounting member would provide LegCo with “professional
expertise so crucial to the well-being of Hong Kong” – the Society
was successful at the second attempt.
Accountants secured their seat and Peter Wong – president of
the Society in 1984-85 – became their first LegCo representative in
36 June 2013
Peter Wong at the Legislative Council
3/6/13 7:22 PM
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