Accountant finally triumphs over professional body after 7 long years

Wong with his pro bono legal team at Kuching Court Complex on May 16, 2023. From left: Gordon Tang, Lead Counsel Albert Tang, Wong Ching Yong, Victor Lau, Wong Woan Yi and Danny Huang

KUCHING, May 17: The Federal Court in Kuching unanimously dismissed the leave application of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) against its member, Wong Ching Yong, who was alleged to have committed unprofessional conduct during a practice review yesterday.

The Court dismissed the application of MIA for leave to appeal against the Court of Appeals’s decision on June 21, 2022, which allowed Wong to successfully set aside the 2016 decision of MIA’s investigating committee to charge him before its Disciplinary Committee which had previously ruled in 2018 that Wong had committed unprofessional conduct during a practice review, as defined by Rule 2 of MIA (No.2) Disciplinary Regulations 2002. 

The Court of Appeal then found that MIA, in pursuing a charge of duplicity, had committed procedural improprieties and had violated the principles of natural justice during the disciplinary hearing against Wong, who is a professional accountant.

The Federal Court ordered MIA to pay costs of RM30,000 to Wong,  together with RM15,000 cost ordered by Court of Appeal in June 2022. 

After paying the lawyers as disbursements, Wong said he will donate a portion of the sum to the Sibu Autistic Association.

“With the dismissal of leave application by the Federal Court yesterday, it means the decision of Court of Appeal is affirmed once and for all,” said Wong in a statement today.

Wong who received the Federal Court’s decision with a sigh of relief said he was extremely happy.

“This means my professional reputation and integrity are now being vindicated by the Federal Court, the highest level of court in Malaysia,” added Wong.

This marks the first instance in MIA’s history, which was established in 1967, where a member has litigated against MIA, going through the Disciplinary Committee, Disciplinary Appeal Board, High Court, Court of Appeal, and ultimately the Federal Court.

Wong asserted that MIA is utilising its members’ subscription to fight against its own members, and therefore, he has the right to know the amount of legal fees incurred in this case.

“It’s a long legal battle of seven years against MIA system. No member should be made to undergo the sufferings and mental anguish like I did. I hope MIA will learn a lesson from yesterday’s Federal Court decision and it’s high time that it should really look into the whole practice review procedure,” urged Wong.

Wong also highlighted that in a recent decision of the High Court, it was also held that the goal of practice review should be for educational purpose to its members and not set to punish them.

According to Wong, based on the feedbacks obtained in a WhatsApp group comprising a few hundred small and medium practitioners (SMPs), many such member firms were rated Type 4 (Unsatisfactory) by the practice review committee. 

“MIA then published their sentencing in accountants’ magazine and SMPs expresses concerns that such publication would tarnish their professional reputation and impact their livelihood negatively,” said Wong.

As such, Wong said he would encourage all such SMPs to appeal first to the Disciplinary Committee, the Disciplinary Appeal Board and after exhausting all internal procedures, file a judicial review in High Court and must be brave to consult their lawyers and argue their cases in court.

Meanwhile, Wong urged MIA to conduct similar practice reviews on the audit files of public interests entities (PIE), for instance, the public listed companies.  

“This is because many financial scandals are related to these audit files of the PIEs. MIA must not shirk its responsibilities to Audit Oversight Board (AOB), which is under the purview of Securities Commission Malaysia.  

“MIA has the duty and responsibility to review the audit files of these PIEs because the signing partners of these audit reports are also the members of MIA,” said Wong. — DayakDaily