Occupy Central

Employees from 'Big Four' accounting firms disown anti-Occupy Central ad

Professionals declare love for Hong Kong and reject political statement from 'Big Four' firms

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 June, 2014, 2:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 2:53am

Employees of the so-called Big Four accounting firms have told off their bosses in public, in an advertisement rejecting the companies' joint anti-Occupy Central ad published last week.

"You boss, your statement does not represent our stance," they say in a quarter-page ad carried in the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday.

The Chinese words for "you boss" are printed in much bigger characters - the term, in Cantonese, can also mean an expression of anger bordering on vulgarity, hinting at the strong sentiments behind the unusual public comment.

The ad's creators called themselves a "group of Big Four employees who love Hong Kong".

Their bold move was in response to a statement issued on Friday by the city's four biggest accounting firms - Ernst & Young, KPMG, Deloitte and PricewaterhouseCoopers Hong Kong - condemning a non-violent sit-in planned by the Occupy Central democracy movement.

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Occupy has threatened to block streets in Central if the government fails to deliver a plan for the 2017 chief executive election that guarantees voters a genuine choice between candidates.

The accounting firms said the blockade could have an "adverse and far-reaching impact" on the local legal system, social order and economic development.

Their statement was published in Chinese-language newspapers Ming Pao, the Hong Kong Economic Times and the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Accountancy-sector lawmaker Kenneth Leung said it was possible that dozens of accountants were unhappy about their employers' statement and had paid for the latest ad.

"The firms were unwise in issuing the unprecedented statement against a political activity," Leung says. "Even their US counterparts did nothing of the sort when New York protesters staged Occupy Wall Street."

That protest began in September 2011. It targeted US financial policies blamed for the yawning income gap between rich and poor in the country, and sparked a wave of rallies across the globe.

All four accounting firms declined to comment on the latest ad. Occupy Central at the weekend wrapped up a public poll in which almost 800,000 voters picked their preferred option for the 2017 election.

The majority backed a plan to let political parties and the public propose candidates.

Meanwhile, the accountancy profession also spoke up on a separate issue - a June 13 protest outside the Legislative Council that forced the suspension of a Finance Committee meeting on the development of new towns in the New Territories.

In a Ming Pao ad, 25 members of the Society of Chinese Accountants and Auditors, including its president Stella Choy Po-fong, condemned the violence that broke out that night.