• Sat
  • Jul 26, 2014
  • Updated: 6:05am
Occupy Central
NewsHong Kong
POLITICS

Reform poll hits 750,000 votes as accounting firms condemn Occupy Central

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 3:38pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 3:01am

The city's four biggest accounting firms have joined in a statement condemning Occupy Central for its planned civil disobedience action.

The so-called Big Four - Ernst & Young, KPMG, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers Hong Kong - said they opposed the pro-democracy movement for its potential "adverse and far-reaching impact" on the local legal system, social order and economic development.

The accounting firms claimed that multinational corporations and investors might move their regional headquarters out of the city or even withdraw their business because of the instability created.

"The Central district has been the heart of the city's commercial activities," they said in the joint statement. "We believe that once the Occupy Central movement takes place, commercial institutions such as banks, the stock exchange and the stock market will inevitably be affected, causing delays to transactions and business activities, which will in turn give rise to market instability and chaos, resulting in [severe] economic and social damage that can hardly be quantified."

If firms relocated or withdrew, "that would weaken the competitiveness of Hong Kong even further and would create a more difficult environment for our next generation", they said.

The statement was published in Chinese-language newspapers Ming Pao, the Hong Kong Economic Times and the Hong Kong Economic Journal yesterday, as participation in Occupy's unofficial referendum on electoral reform - which began on June 20 - passed 750,000.

Accountancy-sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung voiced concern over the advertisement. "I'm worried that accountants and employees of the four firms will feel pressured and be prevented from expressing their political views freely," he said.

Ernst & Young, in an internal circular seen by the South China Morning Post, told its staff not to answer any media inquiries about Occupy Central but refer them to the firm's media section.

Upon inquiries from the Post, the firm said: "[We] would like to clarify one point - we did not 'warn' our people. It is normal practice to ask our people to refer all media inquiries to the media relations team." It refused to comment on the joint statement.

On Wednesday, the Hong Kong Economic Times refused to run a statement issued by Occupy organisers, saying the paper would not publish an ad that might involve illegal activities.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

XYZ
Unfortunately, my companies don't employ the services of any of the Big Four so I can't fire them from the account and take my business elsewhere.
sjfore
1. Ah, yes, more bleating from the privileged classes with their faces in the trough.
2. Hey, accountants, what's this "too severe to be quantified" stuff? Do your freaking job! Otherwise, you're just scaremongering.
zvichadashote
If the Big 4 are against it, I'm all for it!
syn
Ahhh, some students were yelling outside my office too loudly so I got distracted and knocked all the beans I was counting on the floor!
woteva6891@hotmail.com
I think what Hong Kongers are trying to say is that they would rather self destruct than to be completely bossed about by Communists.
sipsip1238
Would've thought that accountants would be for occupy central, given that they have pretty much been put out of jobs after China made auditors from outside of China completely useless.
Or is it their last ditch effort to kiss bottom so that China might change their minds, given China's record, I wouldn't believe what they promise.
impala
Ah yes, the Big Four accounting firms. Struggling for relevance and recognition, yet standing in a long tradition of authoritarian corporate governance themselves. If your firm is structured with an all-powerful, self-selecting small circle of partners at the top without any checks and balances to speak of (shareholders, eew! external oversight? no way, we 'self-regulate'!), then you can hardly be in favour of more democracy now can you.

I mean, before you know it the hoi polloi may be clamouring for a law that would break your oligopoly and then those hefty fees you ask for essentially providing a service based on thin air and a small army of lowly-paid wannabe-partners would be a thing of the past. Can't let that happen, no, no.

On the bright side, this provides a wonderful focus point for the planned Occupy Central sit-in (if it has to happen). While Deloitte and E&Y are unfortunately based in Admiralty, PWC and KPMG are both conveniently situated in the Prince's Building with plenty of excellent protest grounds outside.
captam
Big deal! That's at least 5 million who haven't voted because they cannot!
No option was provided in the referendum for voting "NO" to all of the suggestions.
Paradox314
We now know where Ernst & Young, KPMG, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers Hong Kong commitments lie, and I for one, hope they will leave Hong Kong and move to Shanghai or some other up and coming Mainland business Centre. We DO NOT need these self centred money grubbers here in Hong Kong.
321manu
Well look at that. The big 4 are doing the fear-mongering a la CCP. It's ironic though, for the big 4 accounting firms to run around with prognostications of doom and gloom without offering up any numbers to substantiate their fears. I wonder if they do their audits based similarly on their discerning set of "gut feelings".

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