No go for one person, one vote as accountants elect officers

Top News | Angel Kwan 13 Dec 2019

Angel Kwan

Pro-establishment officers retained key posts in the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants despite a near sweep by pro-democracy candidates in the council election earlier this week.

The newly elected president, Johnson Kong Chi-how, then poured cold water on the implementation of a one person, one vote for the institute's president, despite council members' longstanding calls for direct elections.

He is also the chairman of the Greater Bay Area committee.

The demand for direct elections was raised by over 100 members and was passed at a special meeting last year, but has yet to be implemented.

But Kong said such elections can only be done after amendments to the Professional Accountants Ordinance, which would need to pass through the Legislative Council.

He said he would start consulting members on different ways to implement one person, one vote but cannot provide any timetable or plan.

"I believe the current mechanism has been effectively used for a long time," Kong said.

He also said the institute, which is the only body authorized to register and grant practicing certificates to certified public accountants, will remain politically neutral.

Nelson Lam Chi-yuen and Loretta Fong Wan-huen, who are also conservatives, were elected as vice presidents.

Under the current mechanism, the president and vice presidents are elected by 21 council members, which currently include eight reformists, seven pro-establishment officers and six government-appointed members.

Earlier in the week, pro-democracy candidates won six out of seven seats in the council election after a historically high turnout.

The six reformists, who are from the Democratic Action Accountants, have called for a timetable for directly electing the president and vice presidents.

Sources said the six won with over 50,000 votes in total. Over 25 percent of members voted, compared to a single-digit turnout rate in the past.

Ken Li Kin-hang, one of the six reformists, said the council can set up an opinion poll for all members to vote for their preferred presidential candidate, and the council members can then vote according to the poll.

"This will not violate the law, would not require amendments to the law, and can be done immediately," Li said.

Louis Leung Man-chun, another elected reformist, said the pro-establishment camp will need to explain to all members if they do not vote according to the result of such polls.

Roy Leung Sze-kit was the only pro-establishment candidate to make it into the governing council.

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