Good morning. Welcome to our 34th Annual General Meeting. Thank you to our members for making time on a Saturday to join us and contribute to our beloved profession. We also greatly appreciate your acceptance and cooperation with the unusual circumstances of this AGM due to the pandemic and its concomitant SOPs with regards to physical distancing, pre-registration and the choice of venue.
This is the final occasion that I will have the honour of addressing everybody in the capacity of MIA President. Having been elected to the Council 4 years ago, I have already served the maximum of 4 years on the Council as allowed by the Act and my term concludes at today’s AGM.
Although brief, my term has been highly challenging and rewarding. Steered by the Council, the Institute continued to strive to future-proof the profession despite a highly uncertain and volatile landscape. It is imperative that we build up the profession’s competencies, agility and resilience in responding to the key risks we face, namely the COVID-19 crisis and its repercussions, governance risks, relevancy or obsolescence risk and business continuity risk.
Allow me to share how the Institute is working to respond to these risks in order to enhance the profession’s sustainability as well as MIA’s own sustainability and relevance as the regulator and developer of the profession.
Undeniably, the paramount risk right now is the COVID-19 crisis that has affected broadly all segments of the economy and society, including the profession and its business continuity. We understand that many of our members are fearful of the unknown. To support members, the Institute has implemented crisis management strategies focusing on cutting through the fear. We share up-to-date information, facilitate business continuity and ensure continuing competency development for members.
Since the MCO and RMCO were put into place, the Institute has been in constant communication with our members to reassure them and placate their fears authoritatively, through initiatives such as our first ever series of virtual Townhalls in Klang Valley and the regions, and a dedicated COVID-19 resource page.
Based on the feedback from the Townhalls, we think members are predicting a more challenging year ahead and we pledge to do more to support our members through this unprecedented pandemic crisis.
As a member from the Regions, I welcomed the opportunity to engage with regional members from outside the Klang Valley on their unique challenges. Going forward, MIA will continue to increase its focus on regional members’ interests, and this includes the enhancement of the Sabah regional office to improve Regional Members’ inclusivity, experience and satisfaction.
To assist members with business operations and continuity, we engaged with Government agencies such as the National Security Council, Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Ministry of Health to get clearance and clarification on resumption of accountancy services and aid for businesses and the profession. Some of our key recommendations to the Government were also adopted to support the ongoing economic revival and taken up under PENJANA, the national Economic Recovery Plan, as follows.
One, the continuation of wage subsidy schemes to reduce cost of doing business and ease cash flow burden, where the wage subsidy scheme has been extended for a further three months, with a subsidy of RM600 per month per employee up to a maximum of 200 employees for all eligible employers.
Two, to train and upskill employees to prepare for economic recovery where RM2 billion was allocated for reskilling and upskilling programmes to enhance employability of unemployed workers and youths.
Three, a tax-free regime to incentivise new investors, especially global companies, to establish new operation sites in Malaysia.
Four, incentives for digitalisation of companies which includes an allocation of RM140 million for digitalisation of SMEs and remote work post-MCO.
Five, reduction of Sales and Service Tax (SST) to boost consumption
Six, stamp duty exemption for SMEs on any instruments executed for M&A for the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, which is in line with our proposal made to the Ministry of Finance for the 2021 Budget Consultation. We are delighted with the acceptance of our proposals as this demonstrates the recognition of MIA by our key stakeholders.
Since cashflow and business continuity are paramount challenges for members, we have engaged with financial institutions to arrange safety nets in terms of lines of credit, loan moratoriums and other financial aid schemes to support the profession’s business continuity. I would also like to share that MIA is working on an MIA Relief Fund to assist members with their membership fees. The Council has agreed in principle to the setting up of the fund and the Management is currently studying the details, feasibility and mechanics of the fund. We hope that our efforts have been helpful in assuaging hardships affecting members, especially our SMP and SME members who are especially vulnerable due to their small scale and resource constraints.
Next, Governance. Last year, I stressed how imperative it was to reform the Accountants Act 1967, from which MIA derives our statutory powers to develop and regulate the profession. Regulatory reforms will enable development of relevant regulations that will strengthen the governance of the profession, such as more commensurate fines, sanctions and penalties, in line with time and best practices.
Unfortunately, we regret that the proposed new Accountants’ Act could not be passed at the moment due to unforeseen circumstances, including the COVID-19 crisis and the requirements of MCO and RMCO. Extenuating circumstances notwithstanding, as President the failure to get the new Act passed is still mine to bear and for that failure, I apologise to all the members. Rest assured that the Institute will continue to engage proactively with the MOF to enact the proposed new Act. In the meantime, we are proactively managing the Act’s shortcomings for effective regulation of the profession.
We also continued to place emphasis on competency building and technology adoption to enhance relevance of the profession in the digital economy and IR4.0. Currently, we are working on implementing the Digital Technology Blueprint which is geared towards technology adoption and greater automation of routine work and manual processes for the profession, especially for SMPs and SMEs. The launch of eConfirm.my which is the paperless bank confirmation platform is a key initiative in the ongoing digital journey of the profession. It demonstrates how accountancy, its services and value are being enhanced by technology, and not obsolescing as feared by many.
Other important digital and competency building initiatives include increased sharing on digital adoption, technologies and upskilling to help the profession navigate remote working culture and the increasing digitalisation of business that has been accelerated by COVID-19. To ensure continuing competency development despite the challenges, the Institute has pivoted to online platforms such as e-learning and webinars, discounted CPE fees to accommodate members facing financial pressures and incorporated learning outcomes aligned with International Education Standards (IES) 7 into webinar programmes that meet CPE compliance requirements.
What I have talked about so far is only a fraction of what the Institute accomplished for the year from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. To find out more, please do refer to our Integrated Report () 2020 which is hot off the presses. The <IR> is also available for download so please share the link liberally to increase recognition and visibility for the profession and the Institute. We hope that the <IR> will not just explain MIA’s nation building narrative, but can also be taken as a model for preparers and adopters who are embarking on <IR>.
Next, before I move on to my closing remarks, allow me to update members with regard to the motions from last year’s AGM. Motion one is related to e-balloting and e-AGM. MIA had already submitted the proposed amendments to the MIA (Membership & Council) Rules 2001 regarding e-balloting and changes in the time frame to hold the AGM to the MOF. However, MIA was informed that these amendments would be put on hold, as the legal advisor for MOF had voiced concern on the possible impact the amendments to the Accountants Act 1967 may have on the proposed amendments to the said Rules.
In a further update, the Temporary Measures for Government Financing (Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)) Bill 2020 had just been passed at the Dewan Rakyat on the 28 August 2020. It is now pending deliberation and approval at the Dewan Negara before obtaining the Royal assent and gazettement of the said Act.
Based on the content of the Bill, MIA believes that upon gazettement, MIA would be able to apply to hold its AGM virtually from AGM 2021 onwards.
The second motion is related to printing of PDFs for e-AT, MIA’s virtual knowledge portal. I am pleased to report that the features for e-AT have been further enhanced to enable users to print (web printing), PDF print of a full issue, copy and save as was requested by members. Further enhancements include a PDF print function button at the bottom of each article.
Ladies and Gentlemen, in this challenging and disruptive year under review and as we progress, the Institute’s aim is to support the profession to become more adaptable, resilient, relevant and sustainable. As accountants operate in every segment of business and society, we play an essential role in nation building. Our core building blocks of expertise in financial management, financial reporting, strategic advisory, assurance and taxation services support sustainable economic development in the public interest.
To drive future relevance, we are counting on our members’ support. The Institute relies heavily on strategic collaboration with stakeholders and the acceptance and inclusion of members in order to drive our transformative advocacy. In addition to the diverse stakeholders that we already engage with, we are also establishing relationships with other professional bodies, such as the Bar Council Malaysia. This will hopefully expand the circle of expertise that we can call on and serve as a foundation for future collaboration between the legal and accountancy professions.
Speaking of inclusion of members, the Institute is working hard to ensure that there is inclusivity and diversity across the generations. The Young Professionals Committee is dedicated to planning and implementing the special youth initiatives that can strengthen the profession’s talent pipeline and ensure the continuing relevance of accountants. We are also working to increase the number of young accountancy professionals across different pathways. To this end, we have established the Special Working Group that is currently making progress on embedding MICPA into university courses in order to equip graduates with professional qualifications and prepare them to meet industry expectations.
As a fellow accountancy professional who has benefited greatly from the Institute’s advocacy, especially for young professionals, I hope that all of you too will embrace change in order to become future-proof and build a more resilient profession that is aligned with nation building. However, even while we reinvent ourselves as financial advisors, strategists, business leaders and hybrid accountants, we must always uphold the profession’s core values of integrity, accountability and trust that distinguish us from other professions as providers of trusted assurance and protectors of the public interest.
Before I end, I wish to thank all our stakeholders who have volunteered their time for the betterment of the profession. On behalf of MIA, I would like to thank all outgoing Council members and to welcome all incoming Council members. Many thanks as well to all Committee and Task Force members for their services and contributions to future-proofing the profession despite adverse conditions.
Backed by strong collaborative leadership and stakeholder engagement, an agile purpose-driven strategy and a united team, I believe that the Institute is poised to advance even further in nation building. We are continuing to strengthen our governance framework and risk controls, whereby the Council has oversight and guidance over the Institute’s strategy and initiatives, which are ably executed by management and staff. Under the leadership of CEO Dr. Nurmazilah Dato’ Mahzan, MIA has a very capable management team that works fervently to improve the Institute and the profession. Many thanks are due to the leadership and management for their efforts to strengthen the Institute., the profession and the members.
Last but not least, I wish to extend my deepest appreciation to all our members, who are integral to the Institute and the profession. Thank you very much for your ongoing support. The Institute looks forward to strengthening our member services and engagement as we move ahead. This engagement includes our ongoing Members Survey. MIA is committed to gathering the data that will inform our strategies and services as we evolve into a data-driven organisation. The closing date is 28 September and so far, close to 3,500 members have completed the survey. I hope that more members will participate in this survey.
Ladies and Gentlemen, my term as President will conclude shortly. My tenure has been brief, yet awesome and tremendously rewarding. As the profession and MIA forge ahead, I look forward to seeing what lies ahead on the horizon, and to serving the profession in other capacities to the best of my ability.
Unit 33-01, Level 33, Tower A, The Vertical, Avenue 3, Bangsar South City,
No.8 Jalan Kerinchi, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The use of the word ‘Accountant’
In Malaysia, the word ‘Accountant’ is protected as provided for under the provisions of the Accountants Act 1967 which states that no one can hold himself out or practise as an Accountant unless he is registered as a member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants.
‘The Malaysian Institute of Accountants is committed to the observance and practice of the highest ethical standards of the accountancy profession. All PC holders are reminded that under the MIA By-Laws (On Professional Ethics, Conduct And Practice), no person shall practice or hold out anything on audit/tax services without a license approved by the Ministry of Finance. Every PC holder is therefore expected to comply fully with Section B200.1 to B200.6 of the MIA By-Laws (On Professional Ethics, Conduct And Practice) failing which, you may be held liable for unprofessional conduct and disciplinary action may be taken against you.’