The news about Siti Aishah Kamarulzaman, a daughter of a night market trader, who emerged as the best students for Malaysia and the seventh in the world for the June 2013 ACCA examination would certainly pleased us Malaysians. In fact Siti Aishah is not the first and would not be the last of high achievers, not only for ACCA examination but for other professional accountancy qualifications such as the ICAEW and MICPA.
Professional accountancy had certainly provided many opportunities for ordinary Malaysians to be world beaters in examinations. Many would then further their careers in accountancy or lever on their accountancy skills to achiever greater heights in their life. Literally, Tony Fernandez, an ACCA qualified accountant, is flying with his AirAsia and other stable of companies. The hall of fame of the Malaysian accountancy fraternity is full of ordinary people who became special due to the opportunities provided by their professional accountancy qualifications.
Take Tan Sri Samad Alias for example. He came from a kampung in Batu Pahat, Johor. He went to Australia to study accountancy and when he came back, started his own accountancy practice, brought Arthur Andersen into Malaysia, led both the Malaysian Institute of Accountants and the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants and chairs a number of important agencies including the Perbadanan Insuran Deposit Malaysia (PIDM).
Then we have Harry Menon who was a partner of HRM and presently serve on many board of reputable companies such as Petronas, Dato Oh Chong Peng, Chairman of Alliance Financial Group and many more Malaysians from all the races and many parts of the country. Many of them are not only recognised in Malaysia but also globally.
Datin Alexandra Chin was recently appointed as the Vice-President of ACCA global. She is in line to assume the presidency of one of the largest accountancy bodies in the world. Alexandra hails from Sabah and is practising in that state.
One of the challenges to the growth of the accountancy profession in Malaysia is the reluctance of many accountancy graduates to pursue professional accountancy. Many believe they are tough to accomplish. Anyway, is there any simple career which brings much benefits without handwork and efforts? This sort of thinking may, in one way or another, shaped by their lecturers. There are some who feel that accountancy degrees offered at local universities are enough to make their students professionals. Unfortunately, the market does not think so. Many accountants who lead large companies or this serving the board of such companies are professionally qualified accountants.
Malaysia is among the few countries in the world which recognises accountancy graduates without assessing their competency. Not many people understand what happened in the early 70's resulting in this weird arrangement. If we look around the ASEAN region, even Indonesia and Cambodia assess their graduates before recognising them as professional accountants. This is one of the areas where perhaps, Malaysia Tak Boleh seems to be more prevalent.
I hope with the achievement of Siti Aishah, more graduates will be inspired to pursue professional accountancy qualifications. This should also make their lecturers to be more confident in the graduates nurtured by them. Remember, public universities are funded by public money and the society (taxpayers) are entitled to high quality output, accountancy graduates included.